In our next conversation, we’ll talk about whether homosexuality, and heterosexuality, are contagious. Is it possible to change one’s sexual attraction? Dr. Taylor Petrey will talk about how LDS Church leaders’ views have changed over the past half century.
GT: I’m going to ask the question this way. Is gay contagious? Maybe I should say it this way. Do church leaders think gay is contagious?
Taylor: Great question. The answer is that up until very recently, yes. And they thought that heterosexuality was contagious, too. So the whole idea behind the notion of a gay cure, which is what people like Packer and others were promising, and we invested a ton of resources, both intellectual and material resources into the idea of a cure that would be helped by things like reparative therapy, and so on. The idea was, well, if we can teach these men, and most of the concern is around men, which I want to acknowledge. Lesbians do sort of fall in the background a little bit. When they’re talking about feminism, they’re talking about lesbians, but when they’re talking about homosexuality, they’re talking about men. They say, “Listen, we can teach these guys to play some sports, give them some confidence in basketball. If we can teach these guys to work on a car, or take up these manly activities and be around other manly men, who know how to do this stuff, then they’re going to be just fine and their desires are going to become heterosexual. It was the same way that the worry of the working woman was going to start to desire sexually other women. The concern was that the reason why men were gay is that they hadn’t appropriated masculinity enough. So that’s why these issues of gender and sexuality, are so closely connected for church leaders because they see heterosexuality as the proper outcome of masculinity, or the proper outcome of femininity. When masculinity and femininity themselves are being weakened in some ways, when suddenly women can now work, and be doctors and lawyers, and maybe men might be staying home or maybe men are sharing leadership with their wives in the home, then masculinity is going to be weakened to such an extent that if it doesn’t cause homosexuality for the equal father himself, who’s equal with his wife, it’s going to cause it in his children.
So his children are going, his male children are going to desire in abnormal ways, right? So this notion of sexual fluidity is really kind of the basis of the way that church leaders are thinking about heterosexuality and homosexuality as sort of, “If you can become one you can also become the other.” Why they’re worried about the normalization of homosexuality, then, during this period, is because it’s contagious. They say, numerous times, including Dallin Oaks in that document that we were just talking about in 1984, that if homosexuality is socially normal, then within one generation, everyone will become gay, and then the population will die out.
What are your thoughts? Check out our conversation….
Don’t miss our previous conversations with Dr. Petrey!