Friday, May 9, 2014
I’m going to be involved in a townhall event today in Anchorage Alaska. Up until this afternoon I’ve been kind of dreading it: reading the bios of the other four participants I felt like I was totally the odd duck in the pond. I’m female. Canadian. Queer. Catholic. They’re male. American. Straight or ex-gay. Protestant. But we had lunch together and talked about this afternoon’s event, and I’m actually really excited for tonight. I’m still the most liberal person in the group, but I don’t feel embattled about it, which is really good. Also the form is cool. Usually when I do stuff it’s basically a long pre-prepared talk followed by Q&A. It means that I write and rehearse a performance, and then give it on the day of, ideally without visibly relying on my crib sheet. (My long-term ambition is to be able to use the ancient ars memoriae to be able to give speeches with my hands entirely free in the style of a Roman orator. But perhaps it’s better that I can’t do that, since I might be instantly damned for vanity if I ever pulled it off.)
Sunday, May 4, 2014
One of the reasons that the “distant father/smothering mother” narrative, and other related psychotherapeutic stories, continues to hold clout in Christian circles are the claims that therapists make about their own experience. On the surface, it's very reasonable to think that if someone has worked with hundreds, or thousands, of same-sex attracted clients and has seen a pattern that emerges in the vast majority of cases, their testimony can be taken as highly authoritative.
But there's a problem. Although a handful of clinicians see this pattern over and over and over again, the vast majority of psychotherapists (regardless of their ideological convictions) do not. This points towards an overarching problem with using clinical experience, rather than randomly sampled studies, in order to understand the genesis of homosexuality. What's the difference? Well, in clinical experience if you see a pattern, you might just assume causation. In a randomly sampled study, you're able to investigate whether the pattern is a) universalizable (or at least widespread) in a non-clinically presenting population, and b) whether the pattern is more prevalent in the population being studied that it is in the population generally.
Saturday, May 3, 2014
I wrote a little bit yesterday about the problem of Christian media surrounding homosexuality tending to support the psychological theories which suggest that parents are responsible for making their kids gay. I've since learned that the producers of the The Third Way actually weren't going out of their way to present that narrative – it's much more that they found it hard to find people who were willing to be interviewed for the project, and most of the people who were willing were either reparative therapists, or were folks for whom the standard narrative fit. Fair enough. People who honestly had bad experiences with their families of origin should have the right to tell those stories, and if they're the only ones who stand up, they're the only ones who stand up.
That said, there are two strong reasons why I don't think we can exculpate Christian culture for its role in perpetuating these stereotypes.
Friday, May 2, 2014
I promised that I was going to write about "The Third Way." Tonight, I'm not going to give a complete review. I'm just going to address a single point.
It's a point that a lot of people sweep under the carpet, they say "Well, that's some people's experience, and you can't deny the right of those people to speak about their experience." True enough. Or they say, "The film had so much else right, and it didn't exactly say this..." Also true. But the point is not a little one. It's a very large one, and it's caused a lot of scandal and a lot of grief over the years.