Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen. (1989). After the ball: How America will conquer its fear and hatred of gays in the '90s. New York: Doubleday.

p. xvii It is not, however, as though straights were not repeatedly given broad, heavy-handed hints, by television glimpses of throngs at gay pride marches and so forth, that the Big Lie is just that. But they don't take the hint; they need to believe in the rarity, and--by illogical extension--illegitimacy, of any way of life, any thoughts or feelings, other than their own. In psychiatric terms, this is :denial of reality,: a mark of serious mental illness when it occurs in individuals. Any society that flatly denies the fact that one or two citizens in every ten have strong homosexual interests, and structures its laws and values around this denial, is, to this extent, seriously ill.

p. 17 You should grasp clearly why America's persistent underestimation of the number of homosexuals in its citizenry and core institutions is so dangerous to the cause of civil rights. The public conflates two distinct senses of the word "abnormal"--infrequent" and "pathological"--into just one. In doing so, it unwittingly commits what philosophers call a naturalistic fallacy, judging the rightness of sexual conduct only by how often it occurs in nature.

pp. 26-27 [argument is that people dislike homosexuality because they dislike its causes--sinfulness, mental illness, and recruitment.]

p. 61 Our discussion has ranged widely but has touched upon the seven hallowed public myths of homosexuality. Gays are:

(1) Hardly worth thinking about

(2) Few in number

(3) Easy to spot

(4) Homosexual because of sin, insanity, or seduction

(5) Kinky, loathsome sex addicts

(6) Unproductive and untrustworthy members of society

(7) Suicidally unhappy

p. 64 There are three broad classes of antigay behavior:

1. Actions which prevent homosexuals behavior per se.

2. Actions which deny gays their fundamental civil rights.

3. Actions which otherwise vent public disapproval of gays.

p. 92 Gay marriages are not given legal sanction because, of course, this would appear to condone homosexuality and suggest that society respects and values stable gay relationships--which, in fact, it does not. Moreover, if millions of gay marriages were to begin dotting the legal landscape, society would have no choice but to take official notice of them, thereby unmasking the Big Lie.

Legalized gay marriage would be significant chiefly because

8-2

of the mutual property and inheritance rights it would create. These rights are among the primary yardsticks by which social relations are measured and attested in Western societies: the more coextensive the property and inheritance rights shared by two persons, the more significant their social relationship is seen to be. These rights reflect and shape our social order.

p. 112 Prejudice is deep, automatic, and prelogical, the product of an emotional conditioning unassailable by any appeal to the intellect. It follows that homohatred is also impervious to argument, and that gays who, by raising the consciousness of the prejudiced, think to alter the oppressive circumstances under which we live, are simply urinating into the wind. Though laudably sincere, they're wasting their efforts and throwing away our hopes.

p. 156 We've now outlined three major modes by which we can alter the itinerary of prejudice in our favor. Desensitization lets the engine run out of steam, causing it to halt on the tracks indefinitely. Jamming, in essence, derails it. Conversion--our ambitious long-range goal--puts the engine into reverse gear and sends it back whence it came.

p. 162 Gays must launch a large-scale campaign--we've called it the Waging Peace campaign--to reach straights through the mainstream media.

p. 170 . . . activists have concentrated their efforts on politics, meaning efforts to secure gay rights [p. 171] by conspiring with liberal elites within the legal and legislative systems.

p. 171 In the long run, even if a conspiracy is formed and some legislative deal is struck, the agreement is built on beach sand so long as the public is left out of the bargain. Time and again, religious conservatives have washed away our gains with a frothy tide of public outcry and backlash.

p. 190 So, instead, we propose our own strategy for a large-scale media campaign, whose objectives and reasoning are expressed in eight practical principles for persuading straights:

[p. 191] 1. Don't just express yourself: communicate!

2. Appeal to the Ambivalent Skeptics.

3. Keep talking about gayness.

4. Keep your message focused: the issue is homosexuality.

5. Portray gays as victims, not as aggressive

challengers.

6. Give potential protectors a just cause.

7. Make gays look good.

8. Make victimizers look bad.

8-3

Richard D. Mohr. (1994). A more perfect union: why straight America must stand up for gay rights. Boston: Beacon Press.

p. x America seems to be at a turning point on gay issues; it is now at least acceptable to inquire about these issues in public discussion. The taboo silencing talk of lesbians and gay men is dissolving. The clearest sign of this shift can be found in the mass media. . . .

p. xi The lifting of the taboo over speech will have (I predict) a significant effect on the public lives of many nongay people. Studies have shown that, on gay issues, people are greatly affected in their opinions by how they think other people will perceive them. Taboos encourage, indeed, enforce, the aping of opinions from one person to the next, causing them to circulate independently of both critical assessment and authentic feeling. The result is that many nongay people feel socially required to be gay-fearing or gay-hating, even when they are not homophobic by personal inclination.

p. xi But this new opportunity raises the question, "Now that we can talk, what should we be saying?" Especially for non-gay people, the long night of socially enforced silence on gay issues has created a void in social thinking. Nothing could provide a clearer example of this void than the heated, wildly gyrating, but anemic debates which raged through 1993 over how or whether gays should be allowed in the armed forces. Media channels are open, but little of substance is being conveyed. Suddenly gays are on the national playing field, but no one is quite sure what the game is, let alone what the stakes are and what winning and losing might mean.

p. 1 Ignorance about gays, however, has not stopped people's minds from being filled with stereotypes about gays. Society holds two oddly contradictory groups of anti-gay stereotypes. One revolves around an individual's allegedly confused gender identity. . . These stereotypes of mismatches between biological sex and socially defined gender provide the materials through which lesbians and gay men become the butts of ethniclike jokes.

p. 2 The other set of stereotypes revolves around gays as a pervasive sinister conspiratorial threat. The core stereotype here is that of the gay person--especially gay man-- as child molester, and more generally as sex-crazed maniac. Homosexuality here is viewed as a vampirelike corruptive contagion. These stereotypes carry with them fears of the very destruction of family and civilization itself.

p. 3 False generalizations help maintain stereotypes; they do not form them. . . . their origin lies in a culture's ideology--the general system of beliefs by which it lives--and they are sustained across generations by diverse cultural transmissions,

8-4

including slang and jokes, which usually don't even purport to have a scientific basis. Stereotypes, then, are not the products of bad science, but reflections of society conception of itself.

Understanding this much, it is easy to see how stereotypes about gays as gender-confused reinforce still powerful gender roles in American society. What these stereotypes presume about gays and condemn is the notion that freely choosing one's social roles independently of one's biological sex might threaten many guiding social divisions, both domestic and commercial. . .

p. 3 The stereotypes of gays as destroyers of civilization function to displace (possibly irresolvable) social problems from [p. 4] their actual source to a remote and (society hopes) manageable one. For example, the stereotype of the gay person as a child molester functions to give the traditionally defined family unit a false sheen of innocence. It keeps the unit from being examined too closely for incest, child abuse, wife-battering, and the terrorizing of women and children by a father's constant threats. The stereotype teaches that the problems of the family are not internal to it, but external.

p. 5 Annual studies by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force have consistently found that over 90 percent of gay men and lesbians have been victims of violence or harassment in some form on the basis of their sexual orientation.

p. 8 Clearly popular opinion and custom are not enough to ground moral condemnation of homosexuality. Religious arguments are also frequently used to condemn homosexuality. Such arguments usually proceed along two lines. One claims that the condemnation is a direct revelation of God, usually through the Bible. The other sees condemnation in God's plan as manifested in nature; homosexuality (it is claimed) is "contrary to nature."

p. 9 [because of selective usage] It seems then not that the Bible is being used to ground condemnations of homosexuality as much as society's dislike of homosexuality is being used to interpret the Bible.

p. 39 A 1988 study by the American Bar Association found that eight to ten million children are currently being raised in three million gay and lesbian households. This statistic, in turn, suggests that around 6 percent of the U.S. population is made up of gay and lesbian families with children. We might well ask what conceivable purpose can be served for these children by barring to their gay and lesbian parents the mutual cohesion, emotional security, and economic benefit that are ideally promoted by legal marriage.

p. 54 [contends that gays are treated unequally] . . . governments deny gays many benefits they afford to others. They bar gays from marrying. They frequently discriminate against gays

8-5

in many lines of public employment, including state and local jobs like being a teacher, firefighter, and police officer and in occupations requiring state licenses. Discrimination is tolerated and sometimes even mandated in many federal lines of employment, including the military, the CIA, the FBI, and other intelligence agencies. And as we have seen state sodomy laws too discriminate against gays.

p. 56 Rising to the level of a right, equality is the authoritative claim that people will not be held in lesser regard, as morally lesser beings, independently of their actions. . . . But a person may not legitimately be held in lower regard because of some status he or she has, some group membership independent of any action that puts the person in the group.

Equality at its core does not merely hold that one should teat similar cases similarly, that people should have equal access to whatever (other) rights there are.

p. 59 The ill-treatment of gays chiefly takes the form of denials of equality. To be sure, gays are subject to violations of freedom and inflictions of severe harms. Still, these violations and inflictions are usually perpetrated chiefly as vehicles for the denial of equality to gays. Being fired or being physically attacked because one is gay is a harm, but even more so it is a degradation. Gay oppression is mainly the denial of gay dignity.

p. 67 Quite generally then, it would appear that when animosity against some group reaches a level where the group is the subject of highly developed, sharply derisive slang and the butt of vicious jokes, then the group's members are not being held accountable for what they do but for what they are. At present society chooses to treat gays not as agents of their own destiny with respect to their group designation, but simply as having a degenerate status for the designation of which actions and responsibility are irrelevant.

p. 67 In 1986, the Catholic church, in a major ideological shift, branded as "an objective moral disorder" the mere status

of being a homosexual, even when congenitally fixed [p. 68] and unaccompanied by any homosexual behavior. Previously such status had been held morally neutral and only homosexual acts were morally censured. Both the Vatican letter stating this shift and a 1992 Vatican letter interpreting it as warranting employment discrimination against gays seemed, by their wording and the way they framed the issues, to be a specific response to the development of gay politics in the United States. Political stirring produced ideological retrenchment, in a way, though, that tipped religion's hand and revealed its anti-gay stance.

p. 72 This treatment justifies the application to gays of the moral sense of minority, and in turn ought to invoke the

8-6

constitutional norms the culture thinks appropriate for minority status, especially enhanced constitutional protections of the sort currently afforded by the Supreme Court to blacks, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, legal aliens, illegal alien children, illegitimate children, women, and the mentally and physically challenged. For the treatment of gays corrupts both the substance and procedures of a constitutionally restrained democracy.

p. 75 In America thee is a forum for the redress of those assaults to dignity that are perpetrated by government: the courts as expounders of Constitutional rights, especially rights to equal protection. To the extent that anti-gay laws are an assault on dignity and to the extent that dignity is not, as it is not, something [p. 76] which ought morally to depend on the whims of majorities, then the courts are not just an available forum to overturn anti-gay discrimination--they are also the proper forum. Given the inherently political nature of representative bodies, thee is no effective equivalent on the social level to an individual's heartfelt apology. There is only the assertion of rights.

p. 88 If First Amendment rights are not to be demoted to privileges to which only the dominant culture has access, then invisible minorities that are subject to widespread social discrimination will have to be guaranteed protection from those forces which maintain them in their position of invisibility. Civil rights protections take a very long step in that direction.

p. 89 Now, a person who is a member of an invisible minority and who must remain invisible, hidden, and secreted in respect to her minority status as a condition for maintaining a livelihood is not free to be public about her minority status nor to incur suspicion by publicly associating with others who are open about their similar status. And so she is effectively denied all political power except the right to vote.

p. 93 In the early 1980s, the Pentagon articulated six reasons for banning gays" "The presence of such members adversely affect the ability of the armed forces [1] to maintain discipline, good order and morale, [2] to foster mutual trust and confidence among servicemembers, [3] to insure the integrity of the system of rank and command, [4] to facilitate assignment and worldwide deployment of service members who frequently must live and work under close conditions affording minimal privacy, [5] to recruit and retain members of the armed forces, [and 6] to maintain the public acceptability of military service."

. . . What the six reasons have positively in common is that their force relies exclusively on current widespread bigoted attitudes against gays.

p. 114 The chief problem of the social institution of the

8-7

closet is not that it promotes hypocrisy, requires lies, sets snares, blames the victim when snared, and causes unhappiness--though it does have all these results. No, the chief problem with the closet is that it treats gays as less than human, less than animal, less even than vegetable--it treats gays as reeking scum, the breath of death.

p. 116 The ban on homosexual presence in the military operates at a similar profound level of national definition. Straight soldiers' skittishness, which the military uses to try to justify the suppression of gays, is a mere surface phenomenon masking a much deeper and wider cultural anxiety about gay men--anxiety over understanding the male body as a penetrable object. For the military, the real person, the full citizen is defined as one who must penetrate while never being penetrated.

p. 117 The same cultural configuration subsidiarily explains the traditional defining of women out of combat roles, roles that call for shooting guns.

8-8

Mel White. (1994). Stranger at the gate: To be gay and Christian in America. New York: Simon & Schuster.

p. 145 Three of the five men selected by Jerry [Falwell] in 1979 to serve on the first board of directors of his Moral Majority were D. James Kennedy, pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale,, Florida; Charles Stanley, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia; and Tim LaHaye, pastor of the Scott Memorial Baptist Church in El Cajon, California. These men adapted quickly to the ways of "co-belligerency" and went on to use the issue of homosexuality to mobilize conservative armies of their own.

Dr. Kennedy, another of my former clients on the religious right, and Charles Stanley learned quickly to build powerful television ministries by uniting generous conservatives, "pagan" and Christian alike, around their mutual disapproval of abortion and homosexuality. Currently, Jim Kennedy is sending out antihomosexual "surveys," antigay petitions to the president, and inflammatory antigay videotapes to help pay his media bills. Charles Stanley regularly condemns gays and lesbians from his electronic pulpit. Tim LaHaye uses antigay rhetoric to support his conservative lobbying organization in the nation's capital, and his wife, Beverly LaHaye, uses her own genteel brand of homophobia and homohatred to mobilize and support her Concerned Women for America, the county's largest and most powerful right-wing women's organization.

p. 145 [concept of non-belligerency] In spite of his separatist spirit, it was Francis Schaeffer who taught Jerry Falwell how to mobilize an army of "nonbelievers" to accomplish "God's will for the nation." In his books and speeches, Dr. Schaeffer declared that there was no biblical mandate against evangelical Christians joining hands "with nonbelievers" for political and social causes. . . .

Once Jerry had been won over to Schaeffer's position of "cobelligerents," he began to discover the few key issues and/or fears that most if not all conservatives held in common: communism came to mind immediately, of course, but abortion and homosexuality were also at the top of Jerry's list of "national sins."

p. 224 During the 1990s, when the religious right shifted the focus of their fund-raising appeals from the "evil communist empire" to "the homosexual agenda for the destruction of America," I began collecting samples of their terrible lies against us. . . .

Jerry Falwell was officially declaring war against gay and lesbian people. Why? Because, according to Jerry, homosexuals "have a godless, humanistic scheme for our nation--a plan which will destroy America's traditional moral values." He went on to claim that our "goal" as gays and lesbians was the "complete elimination of God and Christianity from American society [and]

8-9

is being designed right now!"

p. 225 James Dobson's "Focus on the Family" broadcasts, newsletters, and fund-raising appeals also featured antihomosexual attacks on an almost daily basis.

p. 227 [of James Kennedy] He knew better than to condemn us with the avalanche of insinuations, innuendos, and lies that he was using to raise money, but he needed an easy target to raise quick cash, and gay and lesbian people seemed the easiest target in sight.

p. 227 And yet, when confronted by the press, leaders of the religious right insisted they had no desire to discriminate against us. To confuse the issue further, they declared that gay and lesbian Americans were demanding "special rights," and though they never made clear what "special rights" we were supposedly demanding, they began to organize a nationwide, precinct-by-precinct campaign against use. In fact, with their campaign to end our "special rights" they launched a movement that still threatens the very democratic foundations on which this country is built.

p. 230 Nevertheless, in spite of all the progress in understanding and acceptance we have made, leaders on the religious right continue to mount an ever more hysterical campaign against us. Finding it more and more difficult to raise enough money and to recruit enough volunteers, their claims against lesbians and gays grow more lurid and more far-fetched every day. You cannot listen to a religious radio or television station very long without hearing another evangelist or talk show host or radio counselor warn this nation about the "threat of the gay agenda." With every print or media warning comes the suggestion that lesbians and gays have too much power in this country, that their immoral presence should be purged, and that their civil rights should be withdrawn.

p. 238 And yet R.J. Rushdoony, a Bible "expert" admired and quoted by leaders of the religious right, is clearly on record that Leviticus should be taken literally, at least when it condemns men who lie with other men. Rushdoony is not a literalist. He is a selective literalist, choosing to interpret literally only those texts that suit his predetermined purposes, in this case honoring the ancient, evil, ignorant spirit of superstition and hatred against gay and lesbian people. "God in His law," Rushdoony writes, "requires the death penalty for homosexuals." And leaders of the religious right, though maintaining a thin veneer of civility, follow blindly in his tracks.

p. 248 [quotes from a Falwell fund raising letter of October, 991] "Unless we act now, America--like Sodom and Gomorrah--may

8-10

face the wrath of God's judgment. These two Old Testament cities were so filled with homosexuality and perversion that they were utterly destroyed. God wiped them clean from the face of the earth! Will our nation--founded on Christian principles--face a similar fate because God-fearing moral people failed to stop homosexuality from becoming an accepted lifestyle in our churches, schools and public places." [p. 250 also in the same letter] "Night after night, we are bombarded on TV news with scenes of homosexual rampage and violence. Using their influence in Hollywood, homosexuals have succeeded in having their deviant behavior portrayed positively as a legitimate alternative lifestyle. They have lost all fear of condemnation. They speak openly and proudly of their sordid sexual acts and unashamedly flaunt their perversion. They carry no shame whatsoever for their actions. It is time the moral majority in this country stood up to join with me in saying--THIS IS ENOUGH.

p, 251 Charles Stanley, Chuck Colson, Tim and Beverly La Haye, Phylis Schafly, Gary Bauer, and the others all lied when they talked about a corrupt gay and lesbian lifestyle, as though there were one lifestyle for all lesbians and gays. . . Gay people are at the core, not at the fringe, of this great nation. Our only desire to be seen and accepted as we really are.

p. 254 With a few heroic exceptions, the leaders of almost every organized religious group seem to delight in bashing gays. But the religious right has turned gay bashing [p. 255) into an art form. They didn't invent the hatred of gay and lesbian people. Nor do they have an exclusive franchise on its practice. They just tapped into that deep, dark, primitive pool of blind superstition and unreasonable fear to mobilize their troops and fill their treasuries.

8-11

Edward Stein, ed. (1990). Forms of desire: Sexual orientation and the social constructionist controversy. New York: Routledge.

Edward Stein, "Introduction," pp. 3-9

p. 8 Most people who have well-articulated views on the debate between social constructionists and essentialists think that it has been settled. Many scholars in the humanities working in lesbian and gay studies think that the debate is settled in favor of social constructionism while most scientists working on issues relating to sexual orientation as well as, for example members of the national organization Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) think it is settled in favor of essentialism. Most laypeople seem to have conflicting intuitions--they are essentialist in some ways and constructionist in some others.

Mary McIntosh, "The Homosexual Role," pp. 25-42

p. 27 The vantage point of comparative sociology enables us to see that the conception of homosexuality as a condition is, in itself, a possible object of study. This conception and the behavior it supports operate as a form of social control in a society in which homosexuality is condemned. Furthermore the uncritical acceptance of the conception by social scientists can be traced to their concern with homosexuality as a social problem. They have ended to accept the popular definition of what the problem is, and they have been implicated in the process of social control.

The practice of the social labeling of persons as deviant operates in two ways as a mechanism of social control. In the first place it helps to provide a clear-cut, publicized and recognizable threshold between permissible and impermissible behavior. This means that people cannot so easily drift into deviant behavior. Their first moves in a deviant direction immediately raise the question of a total move into a deviant role with all the sanctions that this is likely to elicit. Second, the labeling serves to segregate the deviants from others, and this means that their deviant practices and their self-justifications for these practices are contained within a relatively narrow group. The creation of a specialized, despised and punished role of homosexual keeps the bulk of society pure in rather the same way that the similar treatment of some kinds of criminals helps keep the rest of society law-abiding.

However, the disadvantage of this practice as a technique of social control is that there may be a tendency for people to become fixed in their deviance once they have become labeled.

p. 28 It is interesting to notice that homosexuals themselves welcome and suppose the notion that homosexuality is a condition. For just as the rigid categorization deters people from drifting into deviancy, so it appears to foreclose on the possibility of

8-12

drifting back into normality and thus removes the element of anxious choice. It appears to justify the deviant behavior of the homosexual as being appropriate for him as a member of the homosexual category. The deviancy can thus be seen as legitimate for him and he continue in it without rejecting the norms of the society.

p. 36 Thus a distinct, separate, specialized role of "homosexual" emerged in England at the end of the seventeenth century, and the conception of homosexuality as a condition which characterizes certain individuals and not others is now firmly established in our society.

p. 42 All that has been done here is to indicate that the role does not exist in many societies, that it only emerged in England towards the end of the seventeenth century, and that, although the existence of the role in modern America appears to have some effect on the distribution of homosexual behavior, such behavior is far from being monopolized by persons who play the role of homosexual.

Robert Padgug, "Sexual Matters: On Conceptualizing Sexuality

in History, pp. 43-67

p. 50 In sum, the most commonly held twentieth-century assumptions about sexuality imply that it is a separate category of existence (like "the economy," or "the state," other supposedly independent spheres of reality), almost identical with the sphere of private life. Such a view necessitates the location of sexuality within the individual as a fixed essence, leading to a classic division of individual and society and to a variety of psychological determinisms, and, often enough, to a full-blown biological determinism was well. These in turn involve the enshrinement of contemporary sexual categories as universal, static, and permanent, suitable for the analysis of all human beings and all societies. Finally, the consequences of this view are to restrict class struggle to non-sexual realms, since that which is private, sexual, and static is not a proper arena for public social action and change.

p. 58 Heterosexuals and homosexuals are involved in social "roles" and attitudes which pertain to a particular society, modern capitalism. These roles do have something in common with very different roles known in other societies--modern homosexuality and ancient pederasty, for example, share at least one feature: that the participants were of the same sex and that sexual intercourse is often involved--but the significant features are those that are not shared, including the entire range of symbolic, social, economic, and political meanings and functions each group of roles possesses.

"Homosexual" and "heterosexual" behavior may be universal; homosexual and heterosexual identity and consciousness are modern

8-13

realities. These identities are not inherent in the individual. In order to be gay, for example, [p. 59] more than individual inclinations (however we might conceive of those) or homosexual activity is required; entire ranges of social attitudes and the construction of particular cultures, subcultures, and social relations are first necessary. To "commit" a homosexual act is one thing: to be a homosexual is something entirely different.

By the same token, of course, these are changeable and changing roles. The emergence of a gay movement (like that of the women's movement) has meant major alterations in homosexual and heterosexual realities and self-perceptions. Indeed it is abundantly clear that there has always existed in the modern world a dialectical interplay between those social categories and activities which ascribe to certain people a homosexual identity and the activities of those who are so categorized. The result is the complex constitution of "the homosexual" as a social being within bourgeois society. The same is, of course, true of : the heterosexual". . . .

p. 59 Above all, the modern nuclear family, with its particular social and economic roles, does not appear to exist in other societies, which have no institution truly [p. 60] analogous to our own, either in conception, membership, or in articulation with other institutions and activities.

p. 60 . . . the members of each society create all of the sexual categories and roles within which they act and define themselves. The categories and the significance of the activity involved will vary widely as do the societies within whose general social relations they occur, and categories appropriate to each society must be discovered by historians.

p. 62 The latest developments of socialist-feminist theory and practice have brought us still further, by demonstrating clearly that both sexuality in all its aspects and work/production are equally involved in the production and reproduction of all aspects of social reality, and cannot be easily separated from one another. Above all, elements of class and sexuality do not contradict one another or exist on different planes, but produce and reproduce each other's realities in complex ways, and both often take the form of activity carried out by the same persons working within the same institutions.

p. 63 It was only with the development of capitalist societies that "sexuality" and "the economy" became separable from other spheres of society and could be counterposed to one another as realities of different sorts. To be sure, the reality of that separation is, in the fullest sense of the world, ideological; that is, the spheres do have a certain reality as autonomous areas of activity and consciousness, but the links between them are innumerable, and both remain significant in the production and reproduction of social reality in the fullest

8-14

sense.

Ian Hacking, "Making Up People, pp. 69-88

p. 70 [on census categories] New slots were created in which to fit and enumerate people. Even national and provincial censuses amazingly show that the categories into which people fall change every ten years. Social change creates new categories of people, but the counting is no mere report of developments. It elaborately, often philanthropically, creates new ways for people to be.

p. 83 Suppose there is some truth in the labeling theory of the modern homosexual. It cannot be the whole truth, and this for several reasons, including one that is future-directed and one that is past-directed. The future-directed fact is that after the institutionalization of the homosexual person in law and [p.84] official morality, the people involved had a life of their own, individually and collectively. As gay liberation has amply proved, that life was no simple product of the labeling.

The past-directed fact is that the labeling did not occur in a social vacuum, in which those identified as homosexual people passively accepted the format. There was a complex social life that is only now revealing itself in the annals of academic social history. It is quite clear that the internal life of innumerable clubs and associations interacted with the medico-forensic-journalistic labeling. . . . Whatever the medico-forensic experts tried to do with their categories, the homosexual person became autonomous of the labeling. . . .

p. 84 I do not believe that there is a general story to be told about making up people. Each category has its own history. If we wish to present a partial framework in which to describe such events, we might think of two vectors. One is the vector of labeling from above, from a community of experts who create a "reality" that some people make their own. Different from this is the vector of the autonomous behavior of the person so labeled, which presses from below, creating a reality every expert must face. The second vector is neglible for the split [personality] but powerful for the homosexual person. Persons who write about the history of homosexuality seem to disagree about the relative importance of the two vectors. My scheme at best highlights what the dispute is about.

p. 87 Dynamic nominalism remains an intriguing doctrine, arguing that numerous kinds of human beings and human acts come into being hand in hand with our invention of the categories labeling them. It is for me the only intelligible species of nominalism, the only one that can even gesture at an account of how common names and the named could so tidily fit together.

8-15

Arnold Davidson, "Sex and the Emergence of Sexuality, pp. 89-132

p. 90 In his 1979 Tanner lectures, Foucault writes that he is concerned with the problem of "the relations between experiences (like madness, illness, transgression of laws, sexuality, self-identity), knowledge (like psychiatry, medicine, criminology, sexology, psychology), and power (such as the power which is wielded in psychiatric and penal institutions and all other institutions which deal with individual control)." The question that he places at the center of his work is, "In what way are those fundamental experiences of madness, suffering, death, crime, desire, individuality connected, even if we are not aware of it, with knowledge and power.

p. 92 I want to concentrate on the relation between forms of experience and systems of knowledge, on the way in which what we have come to call "sexuality" is the product of a system of psychiatric knowledge that has its own very particular style of reasoning and argumentation.

p. 98 Indeed, I do not think it would be going too far to defend the claim, paradoxical though it may seem, that sexuality itself is a product of the psychiatric style of reasoning. Sexuality only became a possible object of psychological investigation, theorizing, and speculation because of a distinctive form of reasoning that had a historically specific origin; or to put it another way, statements about sexuality came to possess a positivity, a being true-or-false, only when the conceptual space associated with the psychiatric style of reasoning was first articulated.

John Boswell, "Categories, Experience and Sexuality," pp. 133-173

p. 133 For nearly a decade the historiography of homosexuality has been both enriched and complicated by a controversy over the epistemology of human sexuality, often referred to as the "constructionist/essentialist" debate.

p. 135 There are probably as many ways to define "constructionism" as there are "constructionists." Very broadly speaking, they have in common the view that "sexuality" is an artifact or "construct" of human society and therefore specific to any given social situation. Some would argue that there are no underlying diachronic constants of human sexuality involved in this social construction, others that whatever underlying phenomena there may be are of much less importance than social overlay, or cannot be identified and should not be assumed. Part of the reason it is so difficult to identify "essentialists" is that no reasonable person would disagree with the proposition implicit in the constructionist critique that the experience, including the sexual experience, of every human being in every

8-16

time and place is distinct from that of every other human being, and that the social matrix in which she or he lives will determine that experience in a largely irresistible way, including creating (or not creating) opportunities for sexual expression and possibly even awareness of sexual feelings and desires.

p. 136 Some constructionists argue that a "homosexual identity" did not exist before a certain date (often the second half of the nineteenth century); others that "homosexuality" was not found before such a date; others that although "homosexuality" was known throughout history, "gay people" did not exist until relatively recently. Some writers argue generally that "sexuality" is not a constant; others posit more specifically that social constructs of sexuality are not constant. A more sweeping and profound version of these is that there is no aspect of sexuality that is not socially constructed.

p. 141 Constructionist answers to reflective of the reality of their structures and experience. This assumes, politely but oddly, that humans are inevitably the best analysts of their own lives and environments.

pp. 143-144 [he makes a direct attack on linguistic determinism]

p. 148 Although there may be no practicing essentialists, "essentialism" as a mode of thought is associated with generally conservative assumptions about positivist historiography, less than up-to-date views of sexuality, biological determinism, and a general failure to think critically about underlying assumptions.

By contrast, constructionism seems a more empowering concept, affirming in some ways the interactive strength and control of the individual, and locating the essence of sexuality in mutable social structures rather than inexorable evolutionary processes. Constructionism also fits well with anthropology and contemporary literary theory and their intellectual forebears, structural linguistics and structuralism, which all emphasize the ultimate relativity and subjectivity of language and observation.

p. 149 An additional political fillip is contributed by the claim of some constructionists that essentialists are solipsistically seeking themselves in the past while the constructionists are more open-mindedly looking for differences.

p. 149 There is also a more cogent political dimension to the controversy, ultimately related to the issue of "fundamental difference" addressed above . . . if constructionists or essentialists wish to make political arguments for certain ways

8-17

of conceptualizing or [p. 150] writing about the mysteries of sexuality they have as much right as anyone else to introduce political considerations into semantic, philosophical, or historical discussions.

pp. 151-173 [he argues that ancient and medieval society recognized the difference between homosexuals and heterosexuals]

p. 155 The restrictions on the sexual behavior of adult male citizens were not the result of prejudice against homosexuality: the same man could penetrate as many other men as he wished without incurring any stigma. The code of propriety was related to gender--penetration and power were associated with the prerogatives of the ruling male elite; surrendering to penetration was a symbolic abrogation of power and authority--but in a way which posed a polarity of domination-subjection rather than of homosexual-heterosexual. It was generally acceptable for a member of a less powerful group to submit to penetration by a member of a more powerful one: this was not thought to characterize any defect of personality or to indicate any special psychological constitution or status.

p. 159 Those who engaged in forbidden sexual activity--homosexual or heterosexual--were sinners, but everyone in Catholic Europe was a sinner. . . . "Sinner" was a universal, not a special, category, and if the particular vice which placed someone in this category was unusual, the category itself was thoroughly familiar to his neighbors.

p. 161 The conceptual distance between "homosexual" and "heterosexual" is vastly greater in modern understandings of sexuality than its nearest correlates in ancient or medieval systems. "Homosexual/heterosexual" is the major dialectical foundation of all modern discourse about sexuality--scientific, social and ethical--and it seems urgent, intuitive and profoundly important to most Americans.

p. 172 Cognizance of the social significance of sexual behavior in given times and places is fundamental to understanding both the reality and the perception of sexuality. These have varied so widely in the Western tradition that the most basic taxonomic distinctions of one age may seem almost entirely irrelevant to those of another. Primary ancient and medieval sexual constructs were unrelated to the modern differentiation between homosexual and heterosexual "orientation,: "identity," or "preference." This does not mean that there was no awareness of specifically homosexual or heterosexual "orientation" in earlier societies. Much evidence indicates that there were common and familiar concepts, which received little attention in the records of these cultures not because few people recognized them, but because they had little social or ethical impact.

8-18

James Weinrich, "Reality or Social Construction?", pp. 175-208

p. 176 The debate [essentialism v. constructionism] is important for several reasons. First, it is socially important. If gender transpositions aren't real entities, then laws dealing with them don't make sense. . . . if homosexuality is purely a social construction, then laws against it or laws protecting the rights of homosexuals might be absurd.

Second, the Debate is important to gender transposes themselves. Some gay people, for example, like the idea that homosexuality is "real" because it contributes to their feeling that their struggle to achieve a gay identity is necessary and productive. Other gay people like the idea that homosexuality is a social construction, because it suggests that people can change the boundaries of the construction and thereby change--or escape entirely--the social consequences of what it means to be gay. After all, "define and conquer" is a strategy used at least since the time of Adam; by taking for granted the existence of categories like "homosexual" and "heterosexual," people give power to those who made the definitions in the first place.

p. 200 This conclusion shows how a realist factor interacts with a social constructionist factor in a way equal to more than just the sum of the parts. Yes, ancient Greece clearly had a social construction of "homosexuality" that is very different from the one we have today. But yes, even ancient Greeks realized that people could have a lifelong trait that meant they would search for lovers among one sex only. In order to understand the sociology, you need the realistic "given," and in order to understand the biology, you need the socially constructed "given."

p. 206 In short, the better we know the cultures involved, the more the various gender-transposition patterns merge into and overlap each other. Social constructionists say that's just the point--this incredible mishmash of gender patterns is organized by particular cultures into particular discrete categories. . . .

The realists are also right; they argue that the similarity of this mishmash from culture to culture is very strong evidence that it is not constructed from culture alone.

Wayne R. Dynes, "Wrestling with the Social Boa Constructor," 209-238

p. 212 While the chief pioneers of SC, including Mary McIntosh, Kenneth Plummer, Diane Richardson, and Jeffrey Weeks, have been English, its main sources are the labeling theory and symbolic interactionism of American sociology and French post-structuralism and deconstructionism, especially the work of the late Michel Foucault.

8-19

p. 232 First, SC seems to avoid the temptation to regard persons as automata commanded by some general principle (economic man; the assertive competitor; the neurotic), perceiving them as capable of shaping their own consciousness. Since human beings have made the world, they can remake it. The recognition that traditional cultural arrangements, previously taken to be "natural" and unalterable, are only the impositions of ideological structures whose reign is doomed to pass away, seems empowering. . . . it cannot be denied that a new sense of flexibility and openness is something to which SC recruits respond.

Over against the previous theme, which emphasizes agency and empowerment, another strand of SC tends to see the sexual actor as object, a passive recipient of "definitions" imposed on him or her from the top of the social pyramid, as a sodomite (decreed by the medieval church) and the invert (decreed by nineteenth-century physicians).

p. 233 Several decades of discussion have made us familiar with the social-science thesis of human plasticity or malleability, which downgrades the sense of abiding character or core personality. Practitioners of the social sciences have a professional interest in human variability as a function of the social matrix; hence they are tempted to see people as mirrors reflecting contents projected on them. Thus while malleability offers a promise of openness, it does so at the cost of a reductive portrayal of the individual as a mere puppet jerked about by collective forces.

p. 235 Once its various facets have been viewed, the intellectual genealogy of SC brands it as no dazzling innovation, but in its modest core a tried-and-true specific against historical anachronism. It has succeeded in replacing a seventeenth-century theory--the Exemplar gambit surviving in popular gay writings--with an anemic and adulterated version of an eighteenth-century theory--Historicism.

Steven Epstein, "Gay Politics, Ethnic Identity: The Limits of Social Constructionism," pp. 239-293

p. 241 . . . what I seek to explore is how lesbians and gay men, on a day-to-day basis, interpret their sexual desires and practices so as to situate themselves in the world; how these self-understandings relate to social theories about homosexuals; and how both the theories and the self-understandings can shape--or block--different varieties of political activism by gays. I take as given that power inheres in the ability to name, and that what we call ourselves has implications for political practice. An additional assumption is that lesbians and gay men in our society consciously seek, in a wide variety of ways, to legitimate their forms of sexual expression, by developing explanations, strategies, and defenses. . . . Legitimation

8-20

strategies play a mediating function between self-understanding and political programs, and between domains, including gender, race, and class. For example, while some feminists have proposed that qualities such as nurturance constitute a feminine "essence," others have insisted that any differences between men and women, beyond the strictly biological, are the products of culture and history: [p. 243] men and women have no essential "nature." But while the issues may be generalizable, they have a special salience for contemporary gay politics, because of a peculiar historical irony. With regard to sexuality, the constructionist critique of essentialism has become the received wisdom in left academic circles. And yet, curiously, the historical ascendancy of the new constructionist orthodoxy has paralleled a growing inclination within the gay movement in the United States to understand itself and project and image of itself in ever more "essentialist" terms.

p. 243 As many observers have noted, gays in the 1970's increasingly came to conceptualize themselves as a legitimate minority group, having a certain quasi-"ethnic" status, and deserving the same protections against discrimination that are claimed by other groups in our society. To be gay, then, became something like being Italian, black, or Jewish. The "politics of identity" have crystallized around a notion of "gayness" as a real, and not arbitrary, difference. So while constructionist theorists have been preaching the gospel that the hetero/homosexual distinction is a social fiction, gays and lesbians, in everyday life and in political action, have been busy hardening the categories. Theory, it seems, has not been informing practice. Perhaps the practitioners are misguided; or perhaps there is something about the strict constructionist [p. 244] perspective which neither adequately describes the experiences of gays and lesbians nor speaks to their need to understand and legitimate their places in the world.

p. 247 In keeping with the central thrust of symbolic interactionism, constructionists propose that sexuality be investigated on the level of subjective meaning. Sexual acts have no inherent meaning, and in fact, no act is inherently sexual.

p. 248 While symbolic interactionists debunked the notion of a "natural" sexuality, it was labeling theory that first provided the means to challenge essentialist views of "the homosexual" as a natural, transhistorical category. This challenge, which lies at the very crux of the constructionist argument about homosexuality, can be expressed in the following claim: although every known society has examples of homosexual behavior, only

8-21

recently has there arisen a conception of "the homosexual" as a distinct type of person.

p. 249 A homosexual identity, then, is created not so much through homosexual activity per se (what labeling theorists would call "primary deviance"), but through the reactions of the deviant individual to being so described, and through the internalization of the imposed categorization ("secondary deviance").

p. 250 In Foucault's view, the transformation from sexual behavior to sexual personhood is attributable to three factors: the increasing importance attached to sexuality in general; a more widespread transformation in structures of social control, from control that operates through sanctions against specific acts to control based on highly individualized discipline; and the growing power of professionals, and especially doctors, to define social problems and enforce social norms.

p. 250 . . . constructionism posed a serious challenge to the prevailing essentialist orthodoxy concerning homosexuality. Where essentialism took for granted that all societies consist of people who are either heterosexuals or homosexuals (with perhaps some bisexuals), constructionists demonstrated that the notion of "the homosexual" is a sociohistorical product, not universally applicable, and worthy of explanation in its own right. And where essentialism would treat the self-attribution of a "homosexual identity" as unproblematic--as simply the conscious recognition of a true, underlying "orientation"--constructionism focused attention on identity as a complex developmental outcome, the consequence of an interactive process of social labeling and self-identification. Finally, by refusing to privilege any particular expression of sexuality as "natural," constructionism shifted the whole framework of debate on the question of homosexuality: instead of asking, why is there homosexuality? the constructionists took variation for granted and asked, why is there homophobia?

p. 253 What the liberationist position shared with the constructionist arguments was an insistence that sexual typologies are social, rather than natural facts; that these categories are highly fluid; and that they need to be transcended. Both shared a sense of the openness of historical possibilities that was inspired by the political climate of the day.

p. 254 The 1970's witnessed a phenomenal growth in the institutionalization of a gay identity, as "deviant subcultures" gave way to "gay communities." And contrary to the "protoconstructionist" perspective that had been espoused by the early liberationists, the next generation of gay activists embraced a conception of gay identity that was significantly

8-22

essentialist. To some extent, these essentialist notions had been around from the start; and in the political climate of the late 1970's, one can imagine why they would have more appeal than the utopian vision of the early liberationism, with its focus on historical openness. What this meant, however, is that a disjuncture developed between theory and practice: in place of the rough congruence between early gay liberation politics and evolving constructionist theory, we now find a growing tension between an evolving essentialist politics and a constructionist theory that is firmly in place.

p. 254 Each variant of essentialism is based on some sort of legitimation strategy. In some cases, activists have legitimated their claims with reference to the trans-historical unity of homosexuals or their trans-cultural functional role [p. 255]. . . . Others have sought legitimations of a more "scientific" sort, making reference to a biological or genetic basis for homosexuality.

p. 255 This "ethnic" self-characterization by gays and lesbians has a clear political utility, for it has permitted a form of group organizing that is particularly suited to the American experience, with its history of civil-rights struggles and ethnic-based, interest-group competition. In fact, an irony that Altman points out is that, by appealing to civil rights, gays as a group have been able to claim a legitimacy that homosexuals as individuals are often denied. . . .

p. 256 However, this self-conception could not really take root at a time when the institutional and cultural content of the gay subculture was so relatively impoverished. By the late 1970's, however, the "ethnic" self-understanding truly seemed to correspond to the reality of the burgeoning gay male communities, which had become, at least in New York and San Francisco, wholly contained cities-within-cities. . . . .Gone were the dreams of liberating society by releasing "the homosexual in everyone." Instead, homosexuals concentrated their energies on social advancement as homosexuals.

p. 257 Nonetheless, the notion [of gay ethnicity] does tend toward a reification of the category "homosexual," implying that lesbians and gay men are in some fundamental sense different from heterosexuals. Such viewpoints can be quite dangerous: they can lend support to eugenicist arguments and are also disturbingly compatible with the contemporary understanding of AIDS as a "gay disease."

p. 257 Moreover, there are a number of questions that can be raised, from a progressive standpoint, about the political manifestations of "ethnicity." It would be unfortunate to reduce the politics of gay liberation to nothing more than the self-interested actions of an interest group, in competition with

8-23

other such groups for various resources; such a model would imply that gays have no interests in common with other oppressed groups, and would almost entirely abandon any notion of a broader role for the gay movement in radical politics., In addition, such a move would further separate gay men from gay women, by questioning whether even they have sufficient common interests to overcome their sense of difference. Finally, as many critics have noted, the politics of gay "ethnicity" have tended to foster the hegemonic role in community-building played by white males within the gay movement, and have been articulated to an uncomfortable extent through capitalist enterprise and the commodification of sexual desire.

p. 258 From the standpoint of the defenders of constructionism, lesbians and gay men must be seen as victims of "false consciousness," unaware of the constructedness of their identities. Moreover, we might predict that constructionists would experience considerable difficulties in leading the gay masses to a state of "true consciousness," given that constructionism poses a real and direct threat to the ethnic legitimation: people who base their claims to social rights on the basis of a group identity will not appreciate being told that identity is just a social construct; and people who see their sexual desires as fixed--as "just the way we are"--are unlikely to adopt a viewpoint that presents "sexual scripting" as a fluid, changeable process open to intentional redefinition.

p. 259 For all its radical potential, constructionism has trapped itself in the basic dualisms of classic liberalism.

[between individual freedom and social determinism]

p. 261 A "folk constructionism" comes to be disseminated: the view that sexual identities are willful self-creations. And in reaction against this folk constructionism, which denies the experience of a non-voluntary component to identity, lesbians and gays operating within the liberal discourse slide to the opposite extreme: they assert that there is something "real" about their identity, and then try to locate that felt reality in their genes, or their earliest experiences, or their mystical nature. In this way, constructionism becomes its own worst enemy, driving its potential converts into the enemy camp.

p. 262 It seems that when we scrutinize the essentialist-constructionist debate closely, it immediately unravels into two underlying dualisms: "sameness" vs. "difference," and "choice" vs. "constraint." Constructionism insists that homosexuals and heterosexuals are basically the same, and not fundamentally distinct types of beings; and it emphasizes the possibilities for the self-conscious creation of sexual identities ("choice"). Essentialism, conversely, stresses the politics of difference and presumes the existence of constraint on one's sexual identity: sexual desires are not a "preference" but a fixed "orientation."

8-24

p. 264 I will further argue that it is reasonable, with certain qualifications, to accept the "ethnic" model--both as a relatively accurate characterization of contemporary gay identity formation, and as a politically defensible starting point from which the gay movement can evolve in a progressive direction.

p. 268 Identities are phenomena that permit people to become acting "subjects" who define who they are in the world, but at the same time identities "subject" those people to the controlling power of external categorizations.

p. 269 As labeling theory indicates, deviant identities are particularly likely to assume totalizing dimensions: all behavior of persons so categorized becomes interpreted by others through the prism of the perceived [270] difference.

p. 273 . . . the organization of the gay community around the "politics of identity" would seem to have strong social roots. Once we abandon both the strict [p. 274] essentialist notion of identity as forever fixed within the psyche, as well as the strict constructionist conception of identity as an arbitrary acquisition, we can recognize that a gay or lesbian identity might have a clear resonance for individuals without necessarily binding them to any specific definition of what that identity "means." An intermediate position between the poles of intrapsychic and acquired identity allows us to recognize that these sexual identities are both inescapable and transformable, and are capable of giving rise to a variety of political expressions.

p. 281 It would seem to be precisely the fact that ethnic culture has been evacuated of content that has permitted the transposition of the category of "ethnicity" onto a group that, in the traditional sense of the term, clearly would not qualify for the designation.

p. 283 . . . the "lifestyles" of homosexuals and heterosexuals (at least among the white middle class) would seem in some ways to be moving closer together, even as the identity categories congeal.

p. 286 This whole discussion so far has really been a series of variation on that theme, since all the oppositions that have been described can be located at one or the other pole of what is basically the same debate:

essentialist constructionist

realist nominalist

constraint choice

difference sameness

intrapsychic acquired

primodialist optionalist

8-25

nature society

internal external

real fictive

p. 291 Gay "ethnic" politics, therefore, certainly have capacities for moving in a more radical direction. Part of what would be required, however, is a recognition that the freedom from discrimination of homosexual persons is an insufficient goal, if homosexuality as a practice retains its inferior status.

p. 292 By hardening a notion of group difference, identity politics present a highly visible target. Those social groups who see their understandings of the world as called into question by changing conceptions of sexuality, gender, and morality more broadly defined, have found in the consolidated notion of "gayness" a potent and available symbol upon which they can easily discharge their anxieties--and vent their wrath. And if there is perceived to be such a thing as a "homosexual person," then it is only a small step to the conclusion that there is such a thing as a "homosexual disease," itself the peculiar consequence of the "homosexual lifestyle."

Edward Stein, "Conclusion: The Essentials of Constructionism and the Construction of Essentialism, pp. 325-353

p. 325 Essentialists hold that a person's sexual orientation is a culture-independent, objective and intrinsic property while social constructionists think it is culture-dependent, relational and, perhaps, not objective.

p. 336 Bipolar and binary views of sexual orientation have more going against them than that they are mere commonsense categories which act as unargued assumptions; there is good reason to believe they are false.

8-26

Patricia Beattue Jung and Ralph F. Smith. (1993). Heterosexism: An ethical challenge. New York: State University of New York Press.

p. 13 Heterosexism is a reasoned system of bias regarding sexual orientation. It denotes prejudice in favor of heterosexual people and connotes prejudice against bisexual and, especially, homosexual people. By describing it as a reasoned system of prejudice we do not mean to imply that it is rationally defensible. . . . Rather we mean to suggest that heterosexism is not grounded primarily in emotional fears, hatreds, or other visceral responses to homosexuality. Instead it is rooted in a largely cognitive constellation of beliefs about human sexuality.

p. 14 As a pattern of discrimination heterosexism pervades most dimensions of our cultural life. This "system" shapes our legal, economic, political, social, interpersonal, familial, historical, educational, and ecclesial institutions. Heterocentrism lies at the heart of this system of prejudice. Heterocentrism leads to the conviction that heterosexuality is the normative form of human sexuality. It is the measure by which all other sexual orientations are judged. All sexual authority, value, and power are centered in heterosexuality.

p. 22-33 Each of the descriptions that follows begins with a heading that characterizes the main tenet of the position and identifies the basic judgment proponents of the position make about just, loving, and faithful homosexual behavior.

Position 1: Homosexual orientations are unnatural; just, loving, and faithful homosexual behavior is evil.

....

Position 2: Homosexual orientations are diseased; just, loving, and faithful homosexual behavior is not justified.

....

Position 3: Homosexual orientations are defective; some just, loving, and faithful homosexual behavior may be permissible.

....

Position 4: Homosexual orientations are imperfect; just, loving, and faithful homosexual behavior is justified.

....

Position 5: Homosexual orientations are natural; just, loving, and faithful homosexual behavior is good.

p. 32 If one remains unconvinced that American culture is deeply heterosexist, analysis of the use of language about gays, the portrayal of gay and lesbian people in the media, and the legally sanctioned discrimination against gays provides ample evidence that antigay prejudice abounds.

p. 33 In his now class text on discrimination, The Nature of Prejudice, Gordon Allport noted over thirty-five years ago that

8-27

the most deep-rooted prejudice in the United States was directed against gay people who, if they could be more easily targeted, would suffer even greater violence.

p. 90 The perceived threats named here, although capable of inducing real fear, cannot withstand careful scrutiny (1) undermining the family; (2) destabilizing society; (3) weakening procreativity; (4) confusing youth; and (5) preying on the vulnerable.

p. 94 We find irony in the accusation that accepting or nurturing homosexuality would undermine the family, because heterosexism and homophobia already undermine the family. Many bisexual and homosexual children fail to develop close ties with their parents or siblings because they fear rejection. How can we measure the cost of the pain and alienation that result from parents ostracizing their own children when they find out that they have a gay son or lesbian daughter? How can we measure the cost of marriages between men and women entered into for the sake of protecting one's gay or lesbian identity? Our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our aunts and uncles and cousins become the gay and lesbian outcasts. Heterosexism destroys families.

p. 101 In turn heterosexism reinforces sexism in a variety of ways. Perhaps the most pervasive is in role expectations. Dismantling heterosexism poses a threat to gender stereotyped roles in marriage, family, and society.

p. 101 Our heterosexist success in rendering same-sex couples culturally invisible hinders the ability of gays and lesbians to demonstrate publicly the integrity and vitality of their lives. What are heterosexists afraid will be uncovered? They fear losing the traditional, and therefore controllable, roles of husband and wife. The gender [p. 102] definition of those roles in marriage has already undergone significant revision and many are reluctant to see them challenged further.