Richard Cohen’s New Book From InterVarsity Press

Jim Burroway

November 8th, 2007

Richard Cohen's Richard Cohen, ex-gay gadfly and director of the International Healing Foundation and former president of PFOX, has a new book out from InterVarsity Press. Debuting this month, Gay Children, Straight Parents: A Plan for Family Healing offers advice for parents who have just learned that their son or daughter is gay.

And what sort of advice does he give? Well, in this latest offering he offers a twelve step program to help parents deal with their failures as parents. Well, not entirely; I’m obviously being a bit flippant. But if your operating theory on what causes homosexuality involves the failure to connect with your child during critical stages of childhood, what else is there?

It turns out there’s actually plenty more. But his advice to parents often return to the need to mend their own ways and reach out to their child to rebuild that emotional bond. In our latest report, I review all twelve steps outlined in Gay Children, Straight Parents. For sheer entertainment value, my favorite step (and probably yours too) is Step 8. It’s a step that Cohen is so enthusiastic about, he even performs it with his own adult son. It looks something like this:


Want to know more? Sure you do. You can continue to read all about each of his twelve steps in our latest report, From Buggery To Huggery: Richard Cohen Has A Plan For Your Family.


November 8th, 2007

I wonder if the title is intentionally written to cause confusion with the gay-affirming book Straight Parents, Gay Children: Keeping Families Together by Robert A. Bernstein. It’s the second result on if you search for “Straight Parents, Gay Children,” but the two books couldn’t be further apart in their content.

The Gay Species

November 8th, 2007

Since no one knows the aetiological causes of homophilia, the scientific consensus is it is congenital and/or prenatal, possibly linked to maternal hormonal changes in utero around the fifth week when the sexual chromosomes begin to differentiate sex of the fetus. But even this is speculative.

But few scientists (indeed, I know of none) hold environment to have any role in sexual orientation. Indeed, it’s implausible on its face. Many homophiles have heterophile siblings with substantially the same environmental conditions, and yet most siblings are heterophiles to the one homophile.

Since sexual orientation is prenatal and/or congenital, and clearly not environmental, no one “else” is the cause of someone’s homophilia. Moreover, evolutionary psychology informs us peer imprinting and influences are substantially more dominant than that of parents, thus blaming a parent seems cruel to suggest. But Freud was another one to assign parents the responsiblity for their child/adult client neurosis and psychoses. It seems the Judeo-Christian tradition has an intense obsession in “blaming others.”

Thirdly, since sexual orientation is biologically determined no later than congenitally, it is entirely a natural biological fact. Indeed, the reason science finds this fact so fascinating is that it has no apparent natural selection factors to explain its existence. Since homophiles are non-reproductive, how is it that a consistent percentage of the human population continues to exhibit this natural condition, when it, in theory, should be “selected against” in the course of human evolution? The same inexplicable dilemma applies to over 450 species documented to engage in homoerotic (or “same-sex”) behavior.

If it is a natural condition, as scientists claim, then obviously it is not something problematic, much less pathological. Yet, here is an author suggesting a “round-square.” He wants to cure the healthy? To make them sick? How would one do this? I recall aversion therapy (a.k.a., Pavlovian operant conditioning) used on homophiles and it certainly did make healthy gay males sick. Attaching electrodes to sensitive anatomical erogenous zones, flashing images of naked handsome virile men, and then zapping the client with a painful electrical current is certainly aversive. By most impartial observers, aversion therapy is a form of torture and should have been banned under the Geneva Conventions. The only reason it was not is that Jews and Christians are exempt from these laws — as is the case today with male genital mutilation by American Jews — in their barbaric practices “protected” as religious freedom.

If this tortuous “therapy” succeeded at all, it did so entirely by inhibiting physiological sexual response to visual stimulation. But, physiological inhibition of the male’s penis does not, nor can it, alter the mental processes which congenitally associate a pleasant and desired arousal when stimulated to be aroused. The penis may not respond to the occasion, having associated desire with pain, but the mental processes are not influenced in the same manner. Indeed, the erotic arousal continues to occur “in the head,” just not manifested in the male penis. Most gay men who were pronounced “cured” by their torture therapist were faced with erectile dysfunction AND homoerotic desire. Unable to fulfill a basic (primary) human drive, yet stimulated by nature to want to respond, was simply untenable. Suicide was often the only solution to this needlessly-created impasse.

For the life of me I do not understand why the Abrahamic religions find natural homophilia so objectionable. In most respects, the intimacy of homophiles affects no one else, and unless someone is deliberate searching out two intimate homophiles, it should be a “non-issue.” So what if approximately 3% of the human populations varies in its sexual orientation? Technically, most heterophiles are capable of the same homoerotic acts. If male and female so engage, no problem; but two males engage, and these people come unglued. If a male and female kiss, engage in oral or anal intercourse, find. But if two males do likewise, one would think these people have gone off the deep end.

This irrational obsession over homoerotic intimacy, and worse, over homoerotic romantic love and bonding, is the true pathology. I might understand the initial “disgust” factor, as many heterosexual men have experienced their female partner’s refusal to fellate their men. According to data collected from prostitute, fellatio is the predominantly desired service they perform. In a similar fashion, one might recognize a corresponding “disgust” factor with anal intercourse — especially if an individual/people are obsessively-compulsive about germs, icky, contamination, waste, etc. But once one realizes penises and vaginas BOTH serve dual functions of waste elimination and sexual reproduction (as well as homoerotic pleasure), the classic “disgust” factor abates.

But even if the “disgust” factor applied, it is behind doors and out of sight, for heaven’s sake, not on the evening television. And since no one is coercing these folk to enjoy homoeroticism (as opposed to their demands homophiles have erotic pleasure only their way), and since it “contaminates” no one, but rather brings both pleasure and joy to many individuals, the whole exaggerated focus by a group of fanatics over a statistically small set of the human population that interacts in an entirely natural and harmless manner that has been a perpetual human feature since recorded history seems pathological in its obsession.

One has to suspect that the exaggerated significance this group of fanatics give to this natural and harmless subset of the human population must represent a “risk” more deeply-seeded than anyone has uncovered. But what possibly could that “risk” be? That the Pied Piper will have a queue of homophiles in tow for sexual orgy of intense delight, leaving no males-females to copulate and over-populate planet earth? We all know that sexual orientation does not “work” that way, but it still begs the question: Why are homophiles of such enormous and exaggerated importance in these “other” people’s lives that they must intrude, ban, cure, or otherwise obsess about? And several of the most obsessive — e.g., Dobson, NARTH, — are the one afflicted by this obsessive-compulsive disorder. But these are some of the same people who believe donkeys speak Hebrew, ghosts climb ladders, virgins get pregnant, women become salt, angels not only exist, but like to rape, that water can become wine, that the dead are alive, that humans can fly into the clouds, and that “visions” are normal? Frankly, I don’t think they’re in a position to tell anyone anything, but ordinarily would be candidates for mental health hospitals. Instead, THEY run them?

quo mark II

November 8th, 2007

Gay Species, there really is nothing implausible about the idea that environment influences sexual orientation, in the sense of making particular outcomes more likely. This is different from the simplistic idea that a particular set of family circumstances will, automatically and all by itself, cause a child to have a particular sexual orientation.

It’s very common to see environmental influences dismissed entirely with arguments like the one you use above, but I don’t think they withstand much thought.

The Gay Species

November 8th, 2007

quo Mark II

Assertion of claims may work in bible study, but not science. If you have evidence of cases in which environment causes sexual orientation, you should cite them. No reputable scientist believes environment is causal of sexual orientation, but then causality and evidence presents difficulties for claims such as yours.

My scientists, by the way, are legion:

Donald Symons
E O Wilson
M. Ridley
David Buss
L. Tancredi
C. Darwin
Konrad Lorenz
K. Diegler
J. Watson

Perhaps the Discovery Institute or NARTH can provide you with “experts.” Oral Roberts University, Liberty University, Biola College, and other institutions of lower learning do abound.

Even the discover of DNA and Nobel Laurette James Watson insists homophilia is congenital — which is why he advocates abortion of gay babies. Science, even when ugly, is still facing facts. You simply assert.

Jim Burroway

November 9th, 2007

Actually, the science on biological factors is not nearly as conclusive as Gay Species states. In fact, it appears highly likely that there is no single cause, nor is there a consistent set of causes for all individuals. The best answer so far suggests that there are different factors or combinations of factors for different people.

And quo Mark II is correct. There is, so far at least, nothing to discount the idea that Post-natal factors (commonly called “environmental”) may serve to either attenuate or amplify any prenatal conditions which may already have been set up.

Me personally, I’m not willing to come down on either side of the nature/nurure debate, for many reasons. But the most important, as far as I’m concerned boils down to this: it doesn’t matter. I don’t have the space here to go into why I think it doesn’t matter, but I wrote about it last January in All We, Like Sheep?

The Gay Species

November 9th, 2007

Unlike Mr. Burroway, I am ready to come down on the side of scientists in the nature/nurture debate: It’s a false dilemma. No debate among scientists exist. It’s not an either/or, but AND/BOTH case of nurture AND nature. Only “social scientists” (an oxymoron) persist in the “debate,” since it is their bread-and-butter to perpetuate the false dilemma that the nature/nurture divide persists.

Even the Roman Catholic Church, hardly a paragon for cutting-edge science, acknowledges the scientific facts that homophilia is congenital. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states the science that homophilia is congenital, but still “in no way approved,” even if god is the author of “intrinsically disordered” members of the species. But the authors of this theology were left with NO alternative, since the science is not in dispute (contrary to the above respondents).

The obviousness of congenital homophilia can be ascertained any number of different ways. But one sure way is to ask most gay men if they had a choice between gay/straight, all things equal, straight would have been a much easier card to play. Or, despite assertion of quo Mark II, the same familial conditions produce hetero and homo siblings is evidence that environment is not the cause.

But, here I am using “environment” in the sense of the homophobic authors, in which they blame parents for their children’s sexual orientation. Clearly, without nurture, children do not survive, much less survive gay/straight. In the scientific sense, the environment and nature worked in tandem, or in Richard Dawkins’ famous phrase: NATURE VIA NURTURE.

That quo Mark II and Mr. Burroway engage in MERE ASSERTION rather than SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE is precisely why homophobia persists. They make outrageous assertions without any empirical evidence or support. I cited several scientists, and could cite hundreds more, that substantiate my comments; they’ve cited no one but themselves as authorities and have given no reputable scientist as supporting their willy-nilly claims. Next they’ll cite the bible as anthropological evidence, or a quartz crystal as their revelation, or an anecdote from a kid down the block. The information is only as reliable as the “source,” and quo Mark II and Mr. Burroway are unreliable sources. SHAME on both for perpetuating a fraud.

Jim Burroway

November 9th, 2007

Perhaps unlike Mr. Gay Species, I actually have read the reports — hundreds of them, which I keep on file. And if Mr. Gay Species had read the link that I provided he’d know that I don’t think much of the nature/nurture debate. So I don’t know on what bases he accuses me of buying into that false dichotomy.

If Mr. Gay Species thinks that somehow I’m not on the side of scientists on this one, then I’d suggest he’d read some more of these scientists. Those names that he provided so far are not convincing. I’ve read tons of original research, but none of those names he provided show up among those who have done original research on the possible congential factors of human sexuality.

And so I’ll repeat what the scientists themselves say again and again: No one has definitively found “homophilia,” as you put it, to be “congenital.” And I’ll keep repeating it no matter how much he protests or accuses me of facilitating homophobia or perpetuating a fraud.

Now that’s not to say that I doubt that it may be congenital for some or even most people. I tend to belive that it has a congenital basis most of the time. But that’s only my belief, not a scientific fact. And so while I think it may be congentital, I’ve looked at literally hundreds of articles over the years and have found none which positively proves what I believe to be true.

And unlike Mr. Gay Species, I am perfectly happy to admit that.

If Mr. Gay Species believes that someone has proven without a shadow of a doubt that homosexuality is congenital, he should provide specific references to that information. Might I suggest a few links to PubMed or other journal abstracts to help point us in the right direction? That would certainly be more useful than his continued bloviating and accusing me of perpetuating a fraud.

Here, let me help you get started…

Alexander, G.M.

Baily, Dunne & Martin

Berglund, Lindstrom & Savic

Blanchard, Cantor, Bogaert, Breedlonv, Ellis

Bocklandt, Horvath, Vilain, Hamer

Bogaert, AF

Byne, W

Byne, Lasco, et al.

Byne, Tobet, et al.

… and I’m not even finished with the “B’s”

Jim Burroway

November 9th, 2007

I should note this about links: Including more than 4 as I just did might cause your comment to get caught in our spam filters. I’d recommend that the number of links be held to 3 per message. Multiple messages are welcome.

Timothy Kincaid

November 9th, 2007

Generally I’ve found that most research scientists in this field hesitate to claim that their research (or any research) proves a congenital nature of sexual orientation.

The only exception I can think of at the moment is Qazi Rahman, a UK researcher who makes the claim that gay people are “born gay”. Rather than rely on his own research, or on any one single study, he viewed the collective heap of studies which provide evidence and concluded that the variances between heterosexual and homosexual persons – especially those of a physical nature (auditory responses, digit length, spacial orientation) – were too compelling as a whole to allow any other possible cause.

It’s been a while since I read his book, but I don’t recall him saying that ALL gay people are born thusly. Perhaps he was speaking of gay people as a class and not of a few specific exceptions.

It’s an interesting read

Timothy Kincaid

November 9th, 2007


Bogaert’s study about extreme-right-handedness and older brothers skipped my attention.

I wonder how that plays into Witelson’s observations about the isthmus area of the corpus callosum. She didn’t seem to make a distinction between right-handed and extreme-right-handed.

The more we find out about orientation, the more it seems to be a science of exceptions. Too much of this and too little of that on a tuesday when the moon is in the right spot and this gene is activated and that one not can interact with this hormone if the mother hickups and there are four older brothers but none are blonde (except the second) and if the baby’s first solid food is Gerber’s strained peas then he’ll be gay. Maybe.


November 9th, 2007

I disagree with Timothy’s assessment. The 3 main variables seem to be presence/absence of androgens, the timing of the androgens, and presence/absence of receptors. The findings are regularly consistent with the neurohormonal theory. Even the left-handed paradox actually fits well when the timing variable is taken into consideration.

But I do agree that no one says it “proves” anything – because scientifically you can’t “prove” it. It’s also evident there are many paths up that mountain – but the paths always seem to have those same three variables involved.

I agree with the Wilson/Rahman conclusion that the weight of evidence is now beyond all reasonable doubt. But, that does not mean that everyone who engages in same-sex behavior was born with such an orientation.

Timothy Kincaid

November 9th, 2007

I disagree with Timothy’s assessment.


I’m confused. Assessment of what?

And with due respect, I’ve not seen many studies that discussed androgens at all.


November 9th, 2007

Sorry mate, just the assessment of the science.

While the studies may not have discussed androgens, the results consistently tie in to androgen activity, whether it is finger length, handedness, brain studies, fraternal birth order effect, etc. Androgen activity is directly or indirectly involved, or suspected of being involved in some cases. The results have been fairly consistent with the neurohormonal theory, at least from my interpretations and understandings. Androgens impact many biological traits. It seems that many of the traits they impact are the ones where differences are being found between homosexual and heterosexual samples.

The Gay Species

November 9th, 2007

Apparently, Mr Burroway believes psychology is a “science,” since HIS sources are predominately from the American Psychological Association. That may explain why he makes such absurd claims.

As Karl Popper demonstrated decades past, occult psychology has no scientific basis whatsoever; it is at best idle speculation, grand metaphysics, and horribly injurious. E. O. Wilson is not too fond of the quacks either. In his 1978 Pulitzer Prize work, “On Human Nature,” he likens the quacks to some unpleasant historical figures circa mid-1900s. Thankfully, these great heads and scientific minds help persuade the “psychologists” of the absurd claims of homosexual “pathology and cures” at their holy convocation in Hawaii, 1973. Like any good quack-science, they VOTED to change their diagnoses and stance. Science by popular vote of the trade? You must have some pretty low threshold for evidence.

I should like to refer readers to Michael McGuire and Alfonso Troisi, M.D. and psychiatrists, whose 1998 Darwinian Psychiatry indicted the psychiatric profession for its speculative metaphysics, irrelevance of psychological self-reports as datum, and conceptual incoherence and contradictions.

These are not crackpot researchers, as they hail from UCLA and the University of Rome, and have extensive curricula vitae, are are Ph.D. scientists as well as M.D.s. Of course, their profession and the “psychologists” until 1973 until its holy convocation in Hawaii was quite certain homophilia was a pathological disorder and proferred reparative and aversive treat for the cure of homosexuality. They claimed to have cured Richard Rothstein, one of those who barely survived their diagnosis and treatment. Most “patients” committed suicide like Rothstein intended. Great reliable resource you proffer!

What changed the quacks’ minds back in that holy convocation in 1973? Scientists, gay activists, and philosophers illustrating the “biological naturalness” of homosexuality, and demanding evidence from the quack for their speculative and dangerous — indeed lethal — claims, diagnoses, and “cures.” These challengers held up the pioneering work of Karl Popper, biologists, and philosophers as evidentiary against the Psyche’s claims. As recently as 1964, Albert Ellis professed to cure homosexuals, and even wrote its manual. NARTH still makes claims of cures. And you put your stock of evidence in this occult trade?

You give these quacks more credit than they give themselves. But don’t cite them as “scientists.” They’re not even close. So saith them:

“we fail to explain the majority of the features of disorders, ” “our different metaphysical systems are built on different assumption and uses different explanatory logic,” “different theories of truth are associated with each metaphysical system . . . with different rules for deciding if an explanation is valid,” “which model, psychoanalytic, sociocultural, behavioral, biomedical, chaos theory should we use?” “as a result, psychiatry lacks an integrated set of concepts that can facilitate the development of testable hypotheses, address issues of causal sequence and feedback, and foster studies that will purge low-utility data. Thus much of the time and effort devoted to diagnosing, studying, and explaining disorders turns out to be unproductive,” (authors).

And YOUR EVIDENCE comes from these quacks? If you’ll note, I asked for “scientific” evidence, not occult divinations, descriptive metaphysics, speculative theories without a scintilla of empirical evidence. That you even cite these quacks as your evidence reinforces my initial assessment of your promoting homophobia by promoting unsubstantiated claims by quacks. If you want a philosophical dressing-down of these quacks, I can refer you to any number of resources, including John Searle’s Rediscovery of Mind. At least Searle knows the difference between occult quackery and science. But please do not use quacks to justify mere assertions without scientific foundation. The fact that NARTH and other therapists continue in their trade is because these quacks have no frame of reference by which to arbitrate any claim, including some of their own members’ participation in the U.S.’s torture (psychologists, not psychiatrists barred by the Hippocratic Oath).

Readers desiring SCIENTIFIC understanding vis-a-vis the cult of therapeutic’s arbitrary claims may consult my essay:

When presented to a local psychological service, not one of the quacks could refute a single claim. Withing the SCIENTIFIC community, homophilia is indisputably congenital. What the quacks claim today few of us care.

Jim Burroway

November 9th, 2007

“Gay Species”

I’m afraid you’re confusing psychoanalysis with with psychology, as those seem to be the preponderance of historical examples you provide to support your disdain. As you wish to dismiss this as “occult” science, that is your prerogative. I’m not a fan of psychoanalysis myself. And I am perfectly familiar with the limitation of psychology.

But the sources I’ve been reading and some of which I posted are not all “psychologists.” They come from all sorts of professions — except for the Darwinian psychologists and anthropologists and insect researchers you cited. I’m beginning to think you’re not actually looking at what I’m presenting, but instead reacting to my challenge of our absolutist assertion as though I were attacking you personally. I’m not. But I notice that you’ve not giving it a second though about attacking me.

I’d also point out that these sources that I mentioned actually sought — and are seeking — the very congenital connection you seem to believe was already proven. I really wish you would take the time to read rather than be so defensive that you cannot admit that maybe you don’t quite know anything.

So, for one last time, I’d ask you to adhere to our Comments Policy and provide the conclusive evidence that homosexuality is congenital. Until you do that, I’ll have to ask that you refrain from the personal insults — and the self-aggrandizing — and explain to us mere mortals where we can find the evidence you are so confident exists.


November 10th, 2007

The Gay Species: “But few scientists (indeed, I know of none) hold environment to have any role in sexual orientation. Indeed, it’s implausible on its face. Many homophiles have heterophile siblings with substantially the same environmental conditions, and yet most siblings are heterophiles to the one homophile.”

Correct me if I am wrong, but you seem to define “environment” in purely post-natal terms. Yet would not hormone levels in the womb during certain periods of fetal develpment be considered an environmental factor in terms of sexual orientation?

Since the fetus’s environment is the womb, how is what happens in utero not environmental?

You listed M. Ridley as one of your sources, which I am hypothesizing is Matt Ridley, author of the books Nature via Nurture and The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature. If I recall correctly, he placed pre-natal hormone exposure as an environmental factor, something that falls on the “nurture” axis rather than the “nature” one.

Just looking for some clarification on this…

The Gay Species

November 11th, 2007

Did you read all my comments? I insist that the nature/nurture divide is a false dilemma. Those who use the “environment” as causal of homophilia are referring not to biospheric environment, but social, in particular parental, environment as its sui generis.

Jim Burroway

November 11th, 2007

I did read your comments. I just didn’t see you provide any evidence.

Did you read mine? Did you not see that I also think that nature/nurture is a false dilemna?

And yet, no one has been able to demonstrate that environment — even social environment — plays no role for nobody. This appears to be what you assert without evidence. Am I mistaking you?

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