Chapter 7: Gender Disruption

I commented in the introduction of this book that we already have enough books on the problems people face related to homosexuality. So eleven–twelfths of this book is not about those problems. It’s about growing into wholeness as a man. But I feel compelled to include one chapter focused just on those problems. I do so in the hope of offering new conceptualizations and greater insights.

In this chapter, I’ll describe patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior that seem to be rather common in the histories of men with same–sex attraction. I recognized these patterns gradually over the years through my close interactions with hundreds of men, each with a unique personality and life story. As these patterns became clear, some resonated with my own life story while others were altogether new to me. Also, some of the patterns confirmed theories and conceptualizations I’d been taught about the life histories of homosexual men. But other patterns conflicted with or even disconfirmed parts of those theories and conceptualizations.

As I considered how these patterns seemed to emerge and develop through childhood and into young adulthood, I saw evidence of causation. Thoughts, feelings, and behaviors at younger ages seemed to cause—or at least heavily influence—thoughts, feelings, and behaviors at older ages, leading sooner or later to the emergence of homosexuality. The concept that things at younger ages have an influence on things at older ages is in keeping with the prevailing developmental theories of our day. However, gay affirming theorists and researchers believe sexual orientation is an exception to the developmental model, adopting instead various biological theories for the existence of homosexuality. But the biological theories don’t match the way men have portrayed their life experiences to me, which is why I continue to assert the model outlined here.

I am not pretending to present the final word on what makes people homosexual. I don’t believe anyone in the psychological or scientific communities has nearly enough data to pronounce a final word on these topics. Much more—and better—research is needed. Rather, I’m contributing my observations and conceptualizations, which, though not obtained through the scientific method, may nevertheless prove valuable. In this chapter I’ve chosen only to present the pieces of my overall model that seem essential to the greater purposes of this book.

The patterns of life experiences I observed in the men with whom I worked seemed to point to a common phenomenon shared by the vast majority of them. The common phenomenon was a disruption in their experience of gender. The word “disruption” refers to breaking something apart, throwing it into disorder or turmoil, destroying unity or wholeness, and stopping or preventing something from continuing. This perfectly describes the situation I observed in my own life and the lives of nearly every man with whom I worked. Our sense of our own maleness, our relationships with other males, and our relationships with the opposite sex have all been disrupted in quite a variety of ways.

Put more directly, rather than enjoying masculine sufficiency, we struggle with masculine insufficiency. Rather than experiencing gender congruity, we live with gender incongruity. Rather than being sustained by community with other men, we endure disaffiliation from others of our own sex. And rather than perceiving genderedness and complementarity with women, we encounter distortions in our experience of genderedness.

In this chapter we will discuss the details of these various causes of disruption, beginning with the two conditions that tend to create masculine insufficiency. The first of those conditions is termed “gender incongruity,” and is a sense of being incompatible with or not conforming to your internalized definition of masculinity. It’s caused by gender shame, gender double binds, and gender imperatives. We’ll review each of these in turn. The second condition we’ll discuss is “same–sex disaffiliation,” which is a disruption in our experience of community with other males. After that we’ll turn our attention to the problems that some men with same-sex attraction tend to experience with women, which include unhealthy relational responses to females and gender distortion. The diagram below may help you visually grasp the relationships among all of these topics.

Same–sex attraction is likely to continue as long as men experience masculine insufficiency, but it tends to diminish when our needs for inner and interpersonal masculine connection are sufficiently met. Similarly, diminished or blocked attraction to the opposite sex is also likely to continue as long as our comprehension of the feminine is distorted. Resolving those issues provides the best likelihood of developing opposite–sex attraction.

(Chapter 7 continues on pages 201-222 of the book.)