The Psychology of Homosexuality

Though many would like to think otherwise, the very existence of our society depends upon each individual contributing to the survival and well-being of all. No one — except the old, the sick, the handicapped — has ever been exempt from leading a productive life. In primitive societies, the good man hunted for the sustenance of the entire tribe and the good woman bore and reared children to ensure the survival of their kind. In modern culture, the roles have changed in superficial ways, but until recently have remained essentially the same. Good citizens led productive lives and brought children into the world to replenish the community with virtue.

Those who did not accept these responsibilities — who avoided work or failed to accept the “sweet yoke” of marriage and parenthood — were considered suspect and even vicious, depending on their capabilities and the degree to which they flouted the rules of society. Bums and ne’er-do-wells were but two examples of those who shirked their duty to make a positive contribution to the economy of the community. Thieves and embezzlers were worse because they actively preyed on those who were honest and diligent. Rakes and homosexuals were sexually selfish and irresponsible, not only because they were self-indulgent, but also because they saw sexuality as divorced from the responsibilities of parenthood.

Quite apart from Biblical injunctions, homosexuals have been considered non-productive and hence inimical to the well-being and even the survival of the community. In addition, they have been regarded as dangerous, because they preyed on the young and perverted them from normal, healthy, productive lives. In their selfish preoccupation with genital pleasure, they sought to rebel against the natural order of human life itself — the mutual responsibility of one for all that forms the basis of the social contract.

Anyone who opts out of that contract for reasons other than illness or disability is “wrong headed,” “worthless,” “immoral.” One need only examine the world’s great heroic tales — from the Iliad to the Aeneid to the Gospels to see the virtue of men and women portrayed in terms of their willingness to be productive and unselfish, as opposed to self-centered and destructive.

Now that many in our society have cast aside these ancient norms, we see the old warnings coming true. Homosexuals are now more than non-productive “sexual bums.” They are recruiting others, forming communities, beginning to mock and undermine the old pieties of loyalty to family, country, and God. They have redefined “good” and “evil” and view with contempt the idea that honest work and sex within marriage are communal acts necessary for human survival.

Social-Psychiatric Theory

Traditional social-psychiatric theory argues that productive people will enjoy life, feel good about themselves, earn the respect of friends and co-workers, and feel connected with their families and society. The non-productive will also have personalities shaped by their character and experience, namely, their worthless or counter-productive activities and life choices. They are expected to feel dissatisfied with life and themselves, be stung from social scorn, and seek excessive distraction (through amusements, risk-taking, drugs, sex, etc.).

The rebellious are expected to have “adjustment problems” because they don’t follow society’s prescription. They will feel angry at and at odds with their family and society, even while blaming them for their problems. Rebels, such as thieves and homosexuals, will tend to “feel comfortable” only in the company of their kind. Though they may get satisfactions within their subcultures, their lifestyles preclude full participation in things that “really count” psychologically (e.g., parenthood, social honor). In reaction, traditional theory holds that rebels will mock those who are productive, even as they envy and resent them.

Besides the preoccupation by homosexuals with sex, traditionalist psychiatrists have catalogued a higher incidence of personality characteristics suggesting psychological disturbance and an inability to interact successfully with others. Dr. Edmond Bergler1, who treated over a thousand homosexuals, concluded that gays tended to:

  • provoke attacks against themselves and then count these “attacks” as injustices they had suffered,
  • display defensive malice toward others,
  • exhibit a flippant attitude in order to cover underlying depression and guilt,
  • display extreme narcissism and superciliousness,
  • refuse to acknowledge accepted standards in non-sexual matters, on the assumption that the right to cut moral corners is due homosexuals as compensation for their “suffering,” and
  • be generally unreliable, also of a more or less psychopathic nature.

Dr. Irving Bieber2, who performed one of the largest and most intensive psychiatric studies of homosexuals, characterized gays as “angry, bitter people with low feelings of responsibility.” And Dr. Charles Socarides has emphasized the similarity of the obsessive-compulsive nature of homosexual sex acts to a drug “fix.”3

As opposed to the traditional view, modern egalitarianism emphasizes the equivalent worth of everyone irrespective of their willingness to be productive (after all, we share a ‘common humanity’). This ideology sees no ‘linkage’ between economic and sexual productivity and psychological well-being: those who choose to live on welfare are “just as good” and have the same mix of personality characteristics as those who choose to work. The married are sexually and psychiatrically indistinguishable from those “living together.” And homosexuals are psychiatrically and socially indistinguishable from heterosexuals.

Egalitarian social-psychiatric theory holds that if society would compel its members to accept everyone “for what they choose to do or be,” everybody (including homosexuals) would come to feel good about themselves. In this ‘brotherhood of humankind,’ the job of creating adequate material wealth and rearing a sufficiency of well-socialized children would flow ‘naturally’ out of the general spirit of cooperation, decency, and acceptance that would prevail.

The Psychological Question

Are homosexuals troubled today because society unreasonably discriminates against them or are they more frequently pathological and distressed due to a psychology shaped by their choices and experience?

Several lines of evidence suggest that the personality problems of gays are not a consequence of societal rejection, but ‘part and parcel’ of living the homosexual life. Furthermore, discrimination against those with homosexual inclinations, like discrimination against the able-bodied who refuse to work, is both necessary for the greater good of society and the individual himself. In fact, such discrimination is an attempt to prevent persons tempted by homosexuality from suffering the pathologies it induces.

The Reverse Socialization of Homosexuality

Becoming a homosexual involves a tremendous amount of reverse socialization. Almost every child is taught to avoid feces. Potty training explicitly teaches one to regard feces as ‘dirty,’ disgusting, and unhealthy. Yet most homosexuals eventually learn to immerse themselves in feces. Past surveys suggest the following typical sequential development of gay activity. The median age for gays when their genitals are first manipulated by another male is 13. In about two more years the anus is first used for sex rather than biological relief; and in another year or two the anus is licked for ‘sexual fun.’

By age 21 most gays “have come a long way.” They have learned to seek and enjoy activities that would have sickened them as children. Some go on to “bigger thrills” like sadomasochism, fisting (where the fist is placed up the rectum), or eating feces or drinking urine.4 Medically speaking, it doesn’t matter whether you pursue such activity for “fun” or ingest waste because your salad wasn’t washed — exposure to feces is unhealthy. Psychologically, to undo the hygienic training of childhood in pursuit of adult sexual pleasure literally “turns all the rules upside down.”

Given the biologically and psychologically unhealthful nature of such activity, it is not surprising that the younger a person “locks into” a gay identity, the more disturbed he is apt to be. Remafedi performed two studies of “gay youth.” A 1987 study5 of 29 such youngsters led him to conclude that the

“very experience of acquiring a homosexual or bisexual identity at an early age places the individual at risk for dysfunction. This conclusion is strongly supported by the data.”

His 1991 study6 of 137 gay and bisexual youth aged 14 to 21 reinforced his previous finding:

“For each year’s delay in bisexual or homosexual self-labeling, the odds of a suicide attempt diminished by 80%. These findings support a previously observed, inverse relationship between psychosocial problems and the age of acquiring a homosexual identity.”

Social Disruption

Over the past 50 years, 5 studies have compared substantial numbers of homosexuals and heterosexuals. All generated results suggesting greater social disruption by gays. In the Kinsey survey, general prison inmates (excluding those incarcerated for sexual offenses) were over 4 times more apt to have extensive homosexual experience than his control group.7 Saghir and Robins8 compared 146 gays with 78 heterosexuals and reported less stability (more lovers, more job-changing) and more criminality among homosexuals.

Bell and Weinberg9 contrasted 979 gays with 477 heterosexuals and found more instability (psychiatric, marital) and more criminality among gays. Cameron and Ross10 questionnaired 2,251 randomly-obtained respondents and reported that heterosexuals evidenced more social cohesion (numbers and kinds of intimate relationships), less self-destructive behavior (smoking, drug use, suicide attempts), and less endangerment of others (via driving habits, deliberate killing).

The largest comparison of gays and straights on a wide range of topics and based on a random sample involved 4,340 adults in 5 U.S. metropolitan areas.11 Comparing those of both sexes who claimed to be bisexual or homosexual versus those of both sexes who claimed to be exclusively heterosexual:

homosexuality was linked to lowered health

  • homosexuals were about twice as apt to report having had a sexually transmitted disease (STD); and over twice as apt to have had at least 2 STDs;
  • homosexuals were about 5 times more apt to have tried to deliberately infect another with an STD;
  • homosexuals were about a third more apt to report a traffic ticket or traffic accident in the past 5 years
  • homosexuals were 3 times as likely to have attempted suicide, 4 times more apt to have attempted to kill someone, and about twice as likely to have been involved in a physical fight in the past year;
  • homosexuals were about 5 times more apt to have engaged in torture-related sex (sadomasochism, bondage); and
  • homosexuals were about 4 times more likely to report having been raped.

homosexuality was associated with criminality

  • homosexuals were about twice as likely to have been arrested for a non-sexual crime and about 8 times more apt to have been arrested for a sexual crime;
  • homosexuals were about twice as apt to have been convicted of a sexual crime and about twice as likely to have been jailed for a crime;
  • homosexuals were about three times more likely to admit to having made an obscene phone call; and
  • homosexuals were about 50% more apt to claim that they had recently shoplifted, cheated on their income tax, or not been caught for a crime.

homosexuality resulted in weaker human bonds

  • only about half as many homosexuals had gotten married and, if married, were much less apt to have children;
  • homosexuals averaged less than a year of sexual fidelity within either their longest homosexual or heterosexual relationship (heterosexuals averaged between 5 to 10 years of fidelity); and
  • if married, homosexuals were about 3 times more likely to cheat on their spouse.

These results echo the largest comparative study of straight and gay couples, which reported that the average length of time together averaged about 3 years for gay and lesbian couples vs. 10 years for married heterosexuals.12 Additionally, “cheating” was inevitable:

“all [gay] couples with a relationship lasting more than five years have incorporated some provision for outside sexual activity.”13

Importance of Social Cohesion

While reverse socialization explains a significant portion of the pathologies exhibited by homosexuals, their comparative lack of social cohesion is important also. A national survey of 5,182 adults14 analyzed the gender, age, and kinds of people nominated as being intimately related to the respondent. Compared to heterosexuals, homosexuals exhibited less “relational connectedness” to those of the opposite sex or in different generations. 70% of the intimates reported by homosexuals were their sex as compared to 47% for heterosexuals (see Figure 1). And while 35% of heterosexuals’ intimates were more than 20 years older or younger than the respondent, only half as many of the homosexuals’ intimates were.

Homosexuals more narrowly focused their affections and interests on those of their own age and sex; they tended to be, like adolescents, peer oriented. Fully 38% of the intimates of heterosexuals were intergenerational blood relatives (e.g., parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, etc.). Only 17% of homosexuals’ intimates fell in the same categories. By contrast, 47% of homosexuals’ intimates were unrelated friends or neighbors, compared to only 27% of heterosexuals’ intimates.

People have to learn to care for and care about those who are different than themselves. Homosexuals fail to display the kind of connectedness between sexes, generations, and social classes that leads to social harmony. If we are too focused on “people like us,” we help to divide society into competing groups instead of a fabric of interwoven and connected interests.

Does Societal Acceptance Make a Difference?

Fecal exposure: In the 1940s, Kinsey15 reported that about two-thirds of gays had engaged in anal/penile contact, and 59% of gays and 18% of lesbians had participated in oral/anal activity (where the tongue is put in the anus). San Francisco decriminalized and then accepted homosexuality. When the Kinsey Institute did a survey16 there in 1970, 96% of gays admitted to anal/penile contact, and 89% of the gays and 25% of the lesbians to oral/anal activity. Lifting the restraints upon homosexual activity appears to have increased the exposure to biological danger among those with homosexual desires.

Promiscuity: In the 1940s, 7% of gays and 63% of lesbians said that they had never had a ‘one night stand,’ while 42% of the gays and 7% of the lesbians said that “over half of their partners had been ‘one night stands’ (see Figure 2). By 1970 only 1% of gays and 38% of lesbians said that they had never had a ‘one night stand,’ and 70% of gays and 29% of lesbians reported that they had had sex only once with over half of their partners!

Acceptance did not necessarily make homosexuals’ lives better: 35% of gays (vs. 11% of heterosexual men) and 37% of lesbians (vs. 24% of heterosexual women) had either seriously considered or attempted suicide. Of homosexuals who had attempted suicide, the most frequent reason — which acounted for 47% of all attempts — was disagreements with a lover.17 Further, although these “liberated” gays reported many more lifetime sexual partners than the homosexuals interviewed in the 1940s (a median of 250+ compared to a median of 20), twice as many homosexuals as heterosexuals (15.6% vs. 8.4%) reported having “often” felt “very lonely” in the past month.

This pattern of “liberation and acceptance” leading to greater excesses was echoed in the results of a 1991 survey by the San Francisco Department of Public Health on the sexual risk-taking of young gay men. As the Los Angeles Times18 reported, each succeeding generation “is behaving more dangerously than the one before.”

Our culture has yet to totally accept homosexuality. The limited evidence available suggests that where social and legal acceptance has been implemented, the problems associated with homosexuality have increased rather than dissipated. Cutting the bonds of sexual restraint do not “free” the homosexual to live life to its fullest, but rather increase his chances of personal misery and isolation.


The gay lifestyle is strikingly impermanent. Homosexuals are acutely aware that while their sexual desires will continue, few will be sexually interested in them after their 30th birthday. Good health is frequently interrupted by bouts with alcoholism and STDs — and because their lifespan is so short (the median age of death for gays and lesbians is probably 15 to 20 years younger than that for married heterosexuals), associates frequently die. Unlike the relatively permanent satisfactions and attachments of traditional marriage and parenthood, those associated with homosexuality are fleeting.

It is far from surprising that half of gays expressed regret about their homosexuality19 or that four times as many would advise adolescents who were just beginning homosexual activity to stop rather than continue.20

The “gay life” is short, lonely, and filled with cheating, insecurity, disease, and danger. Although held captive by sexual addiction rather than brick and bars, homosexuals exhibit many of the same psychological traits as those imprisoned in death camps. The pathologies of homosexuals fit the traditional social-psychiatric view: Happiness and well-being are earned through social and sexual productivity, not “sexual freedom.”

  1. Bergler E (1956) Homosexuality: disease or way of life? NY: MacMillan
  2. Bieber I (1962) Homosexuality: a psychoanalytic study NY: Basic Books
  3. Socarides CW (1983) Homosexuality and the medical model. In Phenomenology and treatment of psychosexual disorder Fann WE et al (ed) NY: SP Medical & Scientific Books
  4. Gebhard PH & Johnson AB (1979) The Kinsey Data NY: Saunders. Bell AP & Weinberg MS (1978) Homosexualities NY: Simon and Schuster. Cameron P, et al (1989) Effect of homosexuality on public health and social order. Psychological Reports 64: 1167-77. Cameron P, et al (1985) Sexual orientation and sexually transmitted disease. Nebraska Medical Journal 70: 292-99. Cameron P, et al (1988) Homosexuals in the armed forces. Psychological Reports 62: 211-19. McKusick L, et al (1985) AIDS and sexual behavior reported by gay men in San Francisco. American J of Public Health 75: 493-96.
  5. Remafedi G, et al (1987) Adolescent homosexuality: psychosocial and medical implications. Pediatrics 79: 331-37.
  6. Remafedi G, et al (1991) Risk factors for attempted suicide in gay and bisexual youth. Pediatrics 87: 869-75.
  7. Gebhard PH, et al (1965) Sex Offenders NY: Harper and Row.
  8. Saghir MT & Robins E (1973) Male and female homosexuality Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins.
  9. Bell AP & Weinberg MS (1978) Homosexualities NY: Simon and Schuster.
  10. Cameron P & Ross KP (1981) Social psychological aspects of the Judeo-Christian stance toward homosexuality. J Psychology and Theology 9: 40-57.
  11. Cameron P, et al (1989) Effect of homosexuality on public health and social order. Psychological Reports 64: 1167-77. Cameron P, et al (1985) Sexual orientation and sexually transmitted disease. Nebraska Medical Journal 70: 292-99. Cameron P, et al (1988) Homosexuals in the armed forces. Psychological Reports 62: 211-19.
  12. Blumstein P & Schwartz P (1983) American couples NY: Morrow.
  13. McWhirter AP & Mattison AM (1984) The male couple NJ: Prentice Hall.
  14. Cameron P, et al (1989) Effect of homosexuality on public health and social order. Psychological Reports 64: 1167-77. Cameron P, et al (1985) Sexual orientation and sexually transmitted disease. Nebraska Medical Journal 70: 292-99. Cameron P, et al (1988) Homosexuals in the armed forces. Psychological Reports 62: 211-19.
  15. Gebhard PH & Johnson AB (1979) The Kinsey Data NY: Saunders
  16. Bell AP & Weinberg MS (1978) Homosexualities NY: Simon and Schuster
  17. Bell AP & Weinberg MS (1978) Homosexualities NY: Simon and Schuster
  18. Omaha World-Herald, 8/4/93, p24
  19. Bell AP & Weinberg MS (1978) Homosexualities NY: Simon and Schuster
  20. Gebhard PH & Johnson AB (1979) The Kinsey Data NY: Saunders