The "Origins of Sexuality and Homosexuality" appeared two years before the publication of my own treatment, "Gay Identity: The Self Under Ban" (McFarland, 1987). I had corresponded extensively with DeCecco and Shively in the writing of my book. Generally I agreed with their approach. Both books make the firm distinction between homosexuality as an experience and the social role created by society to limit and control that behavior.
This distinction was made obvious by the studies of Kinsey and others who showed that these two features frequently had little to do with each other. Often, people with little or even no homosexual experience adopted the gay label, while others enjoyed extensive homosexual experiences while denying the label. Kinsey had found that nearly 50 percent of the adult U.S. population, for instance, had experienced some kind of homosexual pleasure to the point of orgasm. Other studies by Kinsey's Sex Institute, found that the sexual outlet of those labeled homosexual went from 1 to 5 on the Kinsey scale, a range that would include 50 percent of the adult population.
While DeCecco and Shively's books emphasizes the psychological process of adopting the gay label, my own work focused on the stigmatic nature of the gay label. Not only is it of such a nature as to change the perceptions by others of the victim of the stigma, but it also causes the victim to tend to organize one's life and one's personality around the label. It is difficult enough for young people to control and humanize their sexual desires. It becomes much difficult as one's sexuality comes to dominate one's self-image. Nothing is more damaging than the belief that one has no choice about one's sexual behaviors. No matter what the source or origins of the pleasure, one always has a choice about overt behaviors.
While admitting that "coming out" is often accompanied by a certain elation, it is a process mandated by society and not the nature of the experience. As several investigators point out, it is a warrant to proceed in the behavior. It is as if society says, "Ok. You can proceed in this behavior as long as you take your place in that group and admit that you are different from the rest of us."
Central to the identity is the conviction that the behavior is caused by some underlying condition and that one has no choice: "I do these things because I am this way." This is the rationale used to justify the behavior and deflect society's scorn.
Both books suggest a better way of dealing with society's ongoing condemnation of homosexual behavior. One way is to enjoy one's homosexual relationships and be open about them. Another suggests re-defining homosexuality in terms of relationships instead of identity. Both require more courage and strength in sharing one's homosexual relationships with others while fending off the label. When asked if you are gay, just say, "I don't believe in the labels." You have spoken volumes. Your behavior needs no reference to an underlying condition over which you have no choice.
It is all about love.