Objection: A Not So Gay Definition
S.Q. Lapius threw the newspaper aside impatiently. “What ridiculous twaddle!” he exclaimed.
“Something catch your eye, Simon, pique your ire?”
“Obviously, Harry. The American Psychiatric Association has just agreed that homosexuality is not a psychiatric disturbance, but is henceforth to be known as a sexual disorientation disorder.”
“You find that annoying?”
“No. Disingenuous, would be a better description. After all, a rose by any other name….”
“You think homosexuality is a disease?”
“It seems to be perverse,” Lapius countered.
“But do you believe it a disease?” I pressed him.
“Probably. But what difference does it make whether it is called a disorder or a disease. Why must a housewife be a homemaker? Why must a garbage man be a sanitary engineer? Why is a physician now a professional provider? Makes him sound like a pimp, doesn’t it, Harry?”
“Well, if you put it that way….”
“Well, I am putting it that way. Why the play on words and names?”
“To enhance the dignity of the role,“ I said trying to assume a neutral stance. “You talk as if you had a bias towards homosexuals, Simon.”
“Well, I do have one prejudice, I must admit.”
“What could that be, Simon? Till now I thought you were 100 percent objective.”
“Almost. Let us say 99 percent. My abiding prejudice is against their use of the term ‘gay’. Here is a perfectly delightful word, that heretofore could be used to conjure up all sorts of delightful images; viz, merry, blithe, jocund, jovial, jolly, playful, frolicsome, sportive. But now that the word ‘gay’ has been applied to describe homosexuality, we have lost it as an expression of joi de vivre. Even if you talk about a gay child, the parents will deal you malevolent looks. A gay blade evokes images of a homosexual skater. See what I mean, Harry?”
“Let’s go back to the beginning. Is homosexuality a disease or disorder?”
“What difference does it make which it is. The important issue is that it is an unnatural condition. Heterosexuality is natural to the order of things. The instinctual sexual response is to scent. Female animals in heat put forth an odor that rouses sexual instincts in the male. Without these stimuli and responses, there would be no animal life on earth today. Thus, an attraction of a male for a male, or female for another female runs counter to the natural order of things.”
“But if a person is destined to have aberrant instincts, ought he or she be censured?”
“Of course not. But they should be treated. Research into the cause of the problem should continue. But if we play semantic games with the problem, and reduce the dysfunction from a disease to a disorder, or, as some claim, to normal variation, then research will stop, and people stricken with the problem will not seek treatment. If doctors suddenly decided that cancer were a disorder rather than a disease that it is the natural destiny of man to die of cancer, then there would be no purpose in trying to cure it, would there?”
“But many great people were and are homosexuals.” I said, trying to play the devil’s advocate.
“Of course, Harry. In addition, many great poets were drug addicts, De Maupassant had syphilis, Caesar was epileptic, Chatterton and Galois were suicidal, Lord Keynes a pederast, and Joan of Arc a delusional visionary. But because these people were great doesn’t imply that we must adopt their habits, disturbances and diseases. A healthy society can tolerate a certain percentage of abnormal citizens, but if abnormality becomes the rule, society will disintegrate.”
“You still haven’t answered my question, Simon. Is homosexuality a disease?”
“The important thing is that it be a treatable condition. Once this is kept in mind, it doesn’t matter whether it is called a disease or disorder or disturbance. But if changing the name changes the nature of the problem, so that those afflicted fail to seek treatment, then semantics has dealt society a foul blow indeed. There is scientific proof now, that hormones affect the perception of sexuality; that sexual drives can be altered by giving either men or women hormones of the opposite sex; that animals deprived of their hormone secreting sex organs lose their interest in sex; that a close endocrine link between the brain and the sex organs has been proved to exist. Certainly homosexuals must suffer some alteration in the physiological network.”
“To deny that homosexuality is abnormal is to consign future generations of potential homosexuals to a role that if nothing else, is unnatural and uncomfortable. Thomas Mann felt that sexuality was the result of an overwhelming force that overcame a person’s natural inhibitions to intimate contact. Certainly in homosexuality, this force would seem to be misdirected.”
I decided to deal Lapius a cruel blow. “How come you never married, Simon?”
He peered at me obliquely. “To avoid the possibility of siring someone like you, Harry.”