I didn’t want to write a book on how to not be gay. Being well over twenty years into my own journey with same–sex attraction at the time of this writing—and with the advantage of more than fifteen years experience as a therapist working with hundreds of other men on that same journey—I’ve developed some very strong beliefs about what it takes to successfully resolve unwanted same–sex attraction. Among the most core of those beliefs is that we are most successful in that process when we feel whole as men. So rather than writing another book that laments the problems people face related to homosexuality, I’ve written a book about masculine wholeness. We have enough of the former and precious few of the latter.
The idea that masculine wholeness is the surest help for those who want to resolve their unwanted same–sex attraction could raise a few questions in some people’s minds. If I’ve done my job right, those questions will be answered by reading the book. But, for the sake of the skeptic or critic, a few basic questions should be answered right up front before you invest in a thorough reading.
First of all, you might ask, “What exactly do you mean by masculinity?” Masculinity is a concept that is as mysterious as it is mundane. Masculinity is around us all the time and yet we are hard–pressed to define it. On the simplest level, masculinity may be described as the expressions of maleness—that which men spontaneously manifest when they are connected to their manhood. We can understand it best by watching how men express it. When men are disconnected from their maleness, they appear to be “unmasculine”—they don’t reflect maleness. When they are connected to their maleness, masculinity is their natural expression of self. When men are living from their “shadow” side, we see their masculinity as dark and ugly. But when they’re whole, they reflect a masculinity that seems full of power and grace. The manifestations of maleness are diverse, appearing in literally billions of unique forms around the world. Indeed, every male reflects aspects of masculinity.
A second question you might ask is, “What do you mean by wholeness?” Wholeness implies balance, moderation, and integration of all our parts and potentials. For men, it means that all of our essential male traits are online and active, integrated into a functioning, unified Self.
This may beg the question, “Are you saying that wholeness will cure homosexuality?” No, I’m not. I haven’t found anything that “cures” homosexuality. Cure implies getting rid of a disease. Homosexuality is not a disease. Nor is it, in my experience, something one simply gets rid of. But it is something one can diminish, give different meaning to, and move to the sidelines in one’s life. This is why I use the term “resolve” when I speak of journeying with unwanted same–sex attraction. “Resolve” can imply clearing something up, reaching a decision, or creating consonance out of dissonance. That’s a good way to think of the kinds of changes that wholeness can bring to your journey. It’s vital, though, that we view resolving same–sex attraction as an imperfect and ongoing process—not as a short path leading to a final conclusion. In this way it’s much like many other character traits a person might want to change.
“So then, how does wholeness help resolve same–sex attraction?” A very good question—and I don’t fully know the answer. I know it decreases shame, isolation, and anxiety while increasing resilience, contentment, and peacefulness. In turn, this seems to diminish the intensity and compulsiveness of sexual desires for other men. I know wholeness intensifies feelings of masculinity and maximizes a sense of belonging among other men, which tend to enhance one’s male identity and fulfill normal needs for male–male connection. And I know wholeness brings greater focus to the natural distinctions between males and females, which heightens awareness of gender.
Why, how, and whether these effects bring about shifts in sexual feelings is as speculative as it is individual. Some men experience a dramatic drop in homosexual desires. Some feel the emergence or intensification of attractions to women. And some experience only moderate, or even minimal, shifts in their sexual disposition. A better understanding of these phenomena awaits agenda–free, bipartisan scientific study.
Next you might ask, “So if wholeness helps resolve homosexuality, do you assume that straight men are whole and gay men aren’t?” No, I don’t. Masculine wholeness is in short supply these days among all men, regardless of which team they bat for. While I make no secret of my belief that, for most men with same–sex attraction, homosexuality emerges out of gender disruption (which is a lack of wholeness), that doesn’t mean straight guys don’t experience disruptions to their wholeness. Though I believe we’re all born whole, no one makes it through childhood unscathed.
“Hmm,” you might ponder. “So you think homosexuality is caused by issues in childhood?” Yes, I do. And so is heterosexuality. I believe our hardwiring disposes us to develop a sexual propensity of some kind. But the specific target of our sexual and romantic desires is, I believe, developed largely through childhood experiences. In terms of outcome, the clear norm for this biological/developmental process is heterosexual, as evidenced by statistics showing that over 96 percent of the population identify as heterosexual. But for a wide variety of reasons, this process can also lead to homosexuality or bisexuality, and does so for 3.5 percent of the population . And a certain number of individuals develop some other type of sexuality, including asexuality. More and better scientific research could disprove the theories I believe in. But such research wouldn’t change the lived experience of those of us who have felt changes in our sexuality.
“So if homosexuality is a minority occurrence, is caused by stuff in childhood, and can change, does that justify prejudice against gays or efforts to make them change?” No, why would it? If we are going to call ourselves a civilized society, we must defend the right of individuals to respond to their sexual feelings in any way they please—regardless of the cause—so long as the individual doesn’t compromise the rights of others. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is foundational to our society. Sexual self–determination is included within our inalienable rights.
Hopefully I have addressed the main questions a skeptic or critic might have. Though we may not agree, perhaps we can disagree with understanding and tolerance.