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The Fear of Sexual Variation

Written By Dr. Tory Clark |

When I chose to immerse myself in the field of Sexology, I became fascinated with the research from an incredible biologist named Dr. Milton Diamond. His message was simple, and made complete sense to me about sexual variation: “Nature loves variety, unfortunately, society hates it.” Society should know, however, that there is great variation in regards to our sexuality. In fact, each of us is a very unique compilation of genes, hormones, genitals, sexual orientations, masculinity and femininity.

I was revisited by Dr. Diamond’s message as the recent news reports flooded in about the suicide of Buffalo New York’s Jamey Rodemeyer. He was bullied and teased incessantly, due to whom he was sexually attracted to. The fear our society has, concerning those who may be considered a sexual minority, stemmed from pathologizing and equating their sexuality with that of sin. Shame, guilt and fear are incredibly powerful forces; powerful enough to drive this young man to commit suicide and others to commit violent crimes. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) recently released some disturbing statistics. The rate of reported anti-lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) murders increased 23 percent in 2010, and the coalition documented 27 anti-LGBT murders last year–versus the 22 that were reported in 2009. NCAVP said the 2010 statistic is the second highest yearly total the coalition has ever documented.

The cultural taboo nature of sexual variation has led to the mistreatment of people that are outside of what society defines as “normal.” Homosexuality was deemed a mental disorder in the United States until the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) was revised in 1973; however, there are still those out there who are certain that gays and lesbians can be cured if they undergo “reparative therapy” (therapy aimed at changing sexual orientation). Individuals, who are transgender, are still considered by the DSM to have gender identity disorder. However, today, reputable psychologists and psychiatrists do not treat LGBT people for their sexual orientation, but rather for other problems (such as bullying and harassment) caused by society’s mistreatment of them.

It is human to forget that just because something is not common, does not mean that it is abnormal or unhealthy. Our ideas about gender norms and roles make it simple for us to jump to the conclusion that those who do not fit our stereotypes are mentally ill. Perhaps this mindset is easier to keep than to challenge our own assumptions of one’s sexuality?

 

References:

 

1. Baur, K., & Crooks, R. (2011). Our Sexuality. Belmont, CA: Wadworth, Cengage Learning.

2. Lavers, M. K. (2011, July). Report: Anti-LGBT Murder Rate Increased 23 Percent in 2010. In Edge Boston Massachusetts. Retrieved October 4, 2011.

 

For more info, contact Dr. Tory Clark at (775) 843-9593.