the PUBLIC FORUM - Homophobia
participants, summaries, full reports, Q and A, links



Paul E. Lynch: Before we open up the mike to the entire audience, we would like to have Mr. Marvin Peguese. Marvin is from Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, one of our nationís premier organizations.

Marvin Peguese: Thank you. First I want to thank the American for supporting our marriage initiative. The support and credibility of organizations like this one really helps us in all of our struggles. Just a little update on our marriage question, we currently are waiting for a decision from the Vermont Supreme Court which will decide on the constitutionality of their restriction on same sex marriage, and the Hawaii legislature has to do something in response to the recent initiative that did pass there, barring same sex marriages. So, your support will be helpful as we continue on this.
Lambda confronts and challenges homophobia in a number of different contexts: in the failure of Health Policy that resulted in the AIDS epidemic, as well as issues of discrimination in employment, housing and access to public benefits. I have two questions that I hope any panelist can help us address.
Homophobia is a source of real gut-level biases in the work that we do on gay parenting and gay views. The first question is a subtle and difficult one that we confront, and that is, how do we better understand and hopefully counter the pervasive beliefs that kids are somehow developmentally harmed by not having two opposite sex parents? In our marriage advocacy, these types of morality based, pseudoscientific claims about lesbian and gay parenting skills were the only ones accepted by the Hawaii courts,against deciding the constitutionality of same sex marriage, and in the custody battles that we take on we find that concerns about the allegedly harmful effects of exposing kids to same sex couples results in unfair visitation rulings, and sometimes absolute denials of custody. These rulings about visitation sometimes require that lesbian and gay parents hide their relationships and their partners from their kids.
In the area of schools, the question is how should public schools begin to address the anti-gay harassment and violence against queer students that is often triggered by their deviation from accepted gender roles? We represented a plaintiff named Jamie Nabusne. He was a high school student in Wisconsin who suffered years of anti-gay violence that included a mock rape in a classroom and a beating so severe that his injuries required surgery, mostly because homophobic teachers and principals did not know how to respond to his complaints and his parentsí complaints, or would not really respond to those complaints. We know that Jamieís experience was extreme, but we also know from other reports, anecdotes, and lawsuits being filed across the country that it is still all too common. Thanks a lot.

Paul E. Lynch, M.D.: Would any of the panelists like to respond to those questions before we move on?

Ralph Roughton, M.D.: I was trying to bounce this off to Nancy considering that it was her field, having to do with gender and so forth, so I will stall for time and give her a moment to collect her thoughts.
I have done some thinking about this because I have some friends, a male couple, who recently adopted a baby. I am not a developmentalist, I am not a child analyst, but my thinking about this is that we have always assumed that to have a family in which the normal developmental course can take place, there must be one parent of each gender. We have so much written and said about the oedipal triangle and its resolution. What I am thinking, however, is that perhaps it is not so much that one parent has to be a male and one has to be a female, but the fact that it is an important developmental step to have two different people to whom you have a very strong attachment and then go through the process of triangulation and the realization that those two people have a very important relationship that shuts you out. Perhaps that kind of triangulation can take place even if both parents are of the same sex, and this is another example of our trying to rethink these issues. New ways of thinking are brought about and stimulated by questions of homosexuality and force us to think differently about all of our theories. This may be an instance where we will do some rethinking about development and what triangulation is really all about.
On the question of schools, I do not know a whole lot about what is actually being done except what I have read in the papers recently in Atlanta. There was another case of a very brutal harassment that resulted in the death of an eleven year old boy -- maybe he was thirteen --who was beaten up by a neighborhood bully who was known for using epithets calling people queer. This raised the question of how the school should deal with bullies and specifically with anti-gay epithets. The schools responded very quickly by bringing in experts and held workshops for teachers about how to handle harassment and bullying in the schools. I was very impressed with the way the school reacted. It seems to me that the way to go is through education, starting with the teachers and working on attitudes. You do not change gut attitudes totally by education, but what better is there?

Nancy Chodorow, Ph.D.: You didnít quite stall long enough. I think there are two levels to this and I do not know that I can answer. One is how do you make a legal argument, which is a little bit different from what do we finally understand about the role of the actual gender of the parents.

Marvin Peguese: Can I follow up? One thing that we encounter in trying to make the legal argument is that we are getting a lot of pseudoscientific research from the religious right that undermines what we know to be valid research showing that there is no difference in parenting skills and no real difference in outcomes for the kids.

Nancy Chodorow, Ph.D.: I would follow a little bit what Dr. Roughton says in terms of I do not know if you can make this kind of argument,. It is question of what is going on internally in the parent as much as the actual gender of the parent. I do not think there is wide variety of parenting styles for women and men, but there are some findings of differences in kind of typical styles. The question is whether somebody needs one of each. I think you do have to make the argument that children need to be exposed to people of either gender so that you have to assume and argue fiercely that a gay or lesbian couple does not mean there is hatred of the other sex. It means that this is my sexual object choice; it does not mean that there are not aunts or uncles or friends or people around who cannot contain and foster the gender identification of a child of either gender.
You see, I think that you are not going to get very far on there being no differences ever between men and women. There may not be in some other time and place, I do not think that that is the case. There are a variety of masculinities and femininities containing respective aspects of persons, masculine and feminine identifications in both a man and a woman and also more active, assertive, autonomy fostering aspects to people of either gender. You know that these can be contained in the same individual or in two individuals and I think you make the argument that there is huge variation heterosexual couples, enormous variety and presence and absence of different parents. I do not think we really know enough developmentally finally to say this is good for children and that is bad for children. We know that beating is bad. We know abandonment is bad. We know that starving is bad. We know that holding and cuddling and loving and being able to let go are good; and I think we know that children need something like a secure sense of gender which does require being able to incorporate and acknowledge aspects of the other gender in the self, not to put it out. I do not think my kind of thinking and I am not sure that psychoanalytic thinking translates easily into the kind of argument you want to make before a judge.

Paul E. Lynch, M.D.: This may not be something we can completely answer today in the little time we have for the discussion. We are going to try to keep the questions and the responses as brief as we can so that we can hear from as many of you as possible, but I would like to say just quickly before we move on to the wider audience participation that what you need is a link with some of us, and as we segue into the audience participation, let me point out that you are surrounded by people who have some expertise that you as a lawyer do not. So perhaps something that this forum can begin is a way for those of us who have different specialties to find each other and to help one another, so that when you are confronted with something that seems to you as pseudoscientific jargon and you donít know how to answer it, well we might not have a great answer, but we might have a little bit of practice at approaching such a thing. So, I am going to move on to the audience participation part.
I see there are folks popping up and arms up in the air. I would like to just set a couple of quick guidelines before you start. I will try to play traffic cop. We will limit the questions to two minutes. If you can be shorter, we will love you, but if you cannot be shorter than two minutes, then, in the nicest way that I can think of, I will cut you off. In my profession, I have some experience with this: "we have to stop now," or something along those lines, but I will stop you if you go over two minutes, so please be careful and we will go back and forth from left to right. We will start on the left. One more thing, please speak very clearly into the microphones. I want to remind you that this entire forum, including your participation is being videotaped, so if you speak clearly into the microphone, we will get it on tape and use it for posterity.

Unidentified Speaker: Are you open for a comment and not a question?

Paul E. Lynch, M.D.: Yes. Please go ahead.

Question: It is a pleasure to be here today. I am the [title deleted] of the Roslyn School Board on Long Island,, and I come here today as an offshoot of an initiative we started last year which was to explore, through a committee of professional students and parents in our school district, how to provide an environment that is anti-bias in all areas -- and this was an area we felt was particularly and obviously omitted. We are a vanguard district in the state, as we also have condom availability for high school students. So once we get our act together in this area, for sure we will be presenting at the State School Board Conventions which we always do, and it is just a pleasure to be here also to witness the articulation of the transformation of this Association. Thank you.

Paul E. Lynch, M.D.: Thank you.

Question - Larry: Larry [last name deleted], I am an analytic psychiatrist in New York and a farmer. I want to make a comment about the two questions by the lawyer. I think that tolerance and respect for others in the community is one of the most important goals of education. I think that any time education is limited to academic subjects, the educational system has failed. As to the first question, unfortunately in our society, there are a lot of one parent children. However, many, many fine individuals have grown up in one-parent homes, or in homes where there was only one gender where there was a mother and a grandmother. I am not an expert on child development and I have not thought about this a lot, but I think that that might be a fact that could be used.
I said that I am a farmer. I had a cattle herd until last year. It was the only analyzed cattle herd that I know of. I regularly had to remove cows from the herd because they killed the calves, and I had a prize bull that had a pedigree that stretched to some of the supposedly best bulls in the country, and I remember this bull was very attentive to the calves. So I think that there are qualities other than gender that are important in parenting, and these have to do with nurturing, and I think that all of us who treat patients have had experience with patients who had mothers who maybe should have been removed from the herd and who did a lot of harm. Thank you.

Paul E. Lynch, M.D.: Thank you for your comments. On the left.

Question - Anna: My name is Anna [last name deleted] and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. My comment will be a more theoretical one having to do with the question that was raised by the young man sitting behind me. I think that some of the comments I just heard have something to do with what I was thinking about. Maybe less than fifty percent of our children today do grow up in two parent homes and have the opportunity to have the experience that we in our traditional psychoanalytic theory hold so dear: namely, the engagement, the experience and the resolution of the Oedipus complex that is supposed to result in the identification of the child with the homogenital parent. I think that as long as we see this as an answer to our theoretical puzzlement about the issue that we are discussing, we will be in trouble. The first item that needs to be recognized is that we put many things under the rubric of identification. Maybe the whole idea that the resolution of this complex results in such an important sense of oneís identity is a very questionable one. I would suggest and some of you know what corner I am coming from. I am a self psychologist, and we too went through the problem of our acceptance in this association. But now I can say yes, I am a Kohutian. Is that not wonderful? But here we have a situation in which the emphasis is the least or not at all on the gender of the parent, but on the gender of the child. Can any, either one of the parents, or the grandmother, the mother, and there are many of them, one parent families now, respond with enthusiasm and full validation of what gender the child happens to be? I am not saying that this is the ultimate answer to the question of sexual object choice or gender identification. I am only suggesting that we do not accept the Oedipus complex and its resolution as one of the most important hallmarks of what happens in this very important area. We do have to recognize the importance of validation of the childís gender that may come from either sex parent. Thank you very much.

Nancy J. Chodorow, Ph.D.: I just want to say briefly that I think the previous speaker raises something that we really need to think about. How much in the arena of sexual orientation, as well as in the arena of gender, are our ideas and approaches un-psychoanalytic, but rather behavioral and external. We talk about sexual orientation as if it is a question of behavior rather than of the complexities of fantasy and the multiple identifications and the unconscious wishes and fears that get put together. I think the same thing is true of gender, both the gender of the child and the gender of the parent. It is as if it were only a matter of what the external or internal physiological genitals are about. Clearly, gender identifications, development, and fantasies are much more complex than that. I also think that we might learn something from recent thinking, which suggests that there is not some great polarization, but that I have argued and others have, that gender is very individual. Every woman in this room actually has a different combination of fantasies and identifications and fears that create her own personal gender. It includes something about her sense of her body. But as we know, those are never self-evident fantasies, and something about cultural gender, and something about her individual familial internalizations. I think if we start thinking of gender as much more individual, we might get a little further with these matters.

Paul E. Lynch, M.D.: Thank you. Next we have a comment from the right.

Question - Andy: Hi, I am Andy [last name deleted], I am a reporter with the Gay Cable Network and with Lesbian and Gay New York, which is the gay newspaper here. First of all, for my own curiosity, how many people here are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender? I am just trying to get a sense. Thank you. First of all, I want to correct something that Alan Hevesi said. He said it is legal to discriminate against gay people. It is not legal in the City of New York and he knows that. It is legal in the State of New York to continue to discriminate, but not in many of our cities, including New York since 1986. Secondly, I would like to propose to the panel and to everybody here actually in the Association that we come up with a better word then homophobia. Dr. Chodorow alluded to the fact that homophobia is a very imprecise term. I wish people were afraid of us. That would make it easy, but they are not. They hate us and they want to kill us. Since you are a scientific association, let us come up with something better in terms of a word. It is a bad word.
Finally, sex is certainly one of the primary drives in life. But one thing I did not hear talked about this morning was money, the other major drive. For decades people in your profession made billions of dollars off self-hating gay people who hated themselves and were cash cows for your profession. Now, a person would have to be kind of an idiot or really in trouble to still seek out that kind of therapy so that is true for a lot of us. So I would like to hear that a little bit more honestly addressed in terms of the profession. You cannot make money adhering to these old bigoted proposals.

Paul E. Lynch, M.D.: Thank you very much. Does anybody here want to respond to that? No. Okay. The next comment on the left. I think he said it too well.

Question - Juan: My name is Juan [last name deleted]. I want to start by saying that all of the panelists had really compelling and illuminatory comments. I guess my question is in terms of how you have addressed lesbian and gay identity very clearly. I think Dr. Chodorow started to address some other issues of gender identity. My question is how your beliefs on everything that we have been speaking about or that you have been speaking about today apply to the transgender community and to the application of gender identity disorder as something that is in the DSM.? I mean that is a question for Dr. Roughton above anyone else.

Paul E. Lynch, M.D.: Go ahead, Ralph, Nancy, anyone.

Ralph Roughton, M.D.: You have certainly raised a question about which I do not think much thought has been given in this organization. Well, I do not want to say that, I think a lot of thought has been given, but we are not anywhere close to resolving differences about that. As I said before, I am not a child analyst. The child analysts think a lot more about so called gender disorders in children. Frankly, I think it is simply a problem that we do not yet know how to handle and so we have just sort of pushed it aside and not said anything much about it. Sorry.

Juan: I guess part of my question was how you just addressed it as a "problem." I am curious about that. You do see gender identity as being something that is a problem?

Paul E. Lynch, M.D.: I think what he means is that there is a problem in that we have not addressed the way in which gender identity disorder is diagnosed. We have not evaluated it. Correct me if I am wrong, Ralph, but the problem is that we have not even addressed what is going on with it. So we cannot even answer the question you are asking. We are a long way off. We have a lot of work to do in this organization. I would take your comment as a challenge for us, and I think it is a very good one.

Nancy J. Chodorow, Ph.D.: I want to say something not directly in answer to your question, but if it comes up, about gender identity disorder. I think that just as with the question of the pathologizing of sexual orientation, I am sure there has been pathologizing of non-expected gender behavior and identity in children. I do think, however, that there is quite good evidence and good reason to think, though I have not done that much reading about gender identity disorder, that there are certainly lots of small children who have extremely distressful and upsetting conflicts about their gender that pervasively influence their lives. Whether we call it gender identity disorder or not, I do not think we can rule out that there are ranges of comfort and discomfort with labeled gender and unconscious gender. I would take the position that this is waiting for more information. Perhaps we are going to find out that there is no such thing as sexual or gender "disorders," but that there are conflicts.

Ralph Roughton, M.D.: Let me just add to that my perspective, too. I think we are saying this in the same way that we would say that there are many people who are heterosexual who have problems in their sexuality so that it is not necessarily privileging that. I think we have not been honest enough about separating what is perhaps more generalized psychopathology that gets conflated with the sexual orientation or, in some cases perhaps, the gender identity.

Paul E. Lynch, M.D: Thank you. Next question from the right.

Question - David: I am David [last name deleted]. I am a psychoanalyst from Washington. I was sorry that Barney was not here today. He is someone that I have known for about forty years, since college, and he was one of the people who had taught me a good deal about my homophobia. Actually the person who taught me the most is my daughter, who is a lesbian and married -- at least in the Jewish religion, not legally, but by a rabbi. I wanted to raise a question about issues of internal homophobia, which came to our attention when my wife and I were not delighted to find out that our daughter had found that she was gay, and she felt that we were rejecting her because we were not delighted. She, I think, had to look for some way to feel positive about herself as a gay person. I do not think we rejected her. We loved her before and we loved her right through all of this, but she had the model of heterosexual parents. I think it presents a particular problem for a gay, a young person, to be dealing with heterosexual parents and not be able to recreate that situation. I particularly wanted to address the gay members of the panel in terms of whether analysis and psychotherapy do not have a special role in helping gay people to have a real and positive sense of their identity when they do not, cannot quite have that in dealing with their parents if the parents are a heterosexual couple, as is probably most often the case. I wonder whether there is not a special role to play and whether it makes a difference whether the therapist is also gay or whether it could be just as well accomplished with a heterosexual therapist?

Paul E. Lynch, M.D.: Anyone?

Ralph Roughton: Having just rehearsed this answer in another group where it came up a couple of nights ago, I can say that I think that there are two essential things for a therapist working with a gay or lesbian patient -- and I am not sure that this is any different from working with any patient. The first is that it is particularly important that the therapist or analyst be able to see that ending up with a positive identity as a gay or lesbian person and that being a natural culmination of the therapeutic work together, is an okay thing. The other essential is that the therapist or analyst have a certain degree of humility about what he or she does not know and be willing to learn from the patient what it is like to grow up and to be living in a gay or lesbian group of people. I think that psychoanalysts have been woefully ignorant about the normative aspects of gay and lesbian life and make so many assumptions that they are not even aware of and communicate the heterosexist assumption of what is normative. The gay or lesbian patient picks this up very easily and may be hurt or feel diminished. We could probably go on and talk about other factors, but I think if those two factors are there with a genuine interest in helping this particular person find what is right for him or her, that it does not have to be a gay therapist.

Paul E. Lynch, M.D.: Thank you. Next comment on the left.

Question - Bill: My name is Bill [last name deleted] and I am from Washington, D.C. and Maryland. In Dr. Roughtonís comments, you ask where did we, the organization, go wrong? I do not think it is most helpful to look at it from that framework. We were wrong from the outset. Psychically, we are wrong inside just from the beginning, Freud and his enlightenment notwithstanding. We were no more wrong than George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were wrong or went wrong about owning slaves. They were wrong from the beginning. It is not a question psychically, it is not a question of going wrong, but it is a question of overcoming the incivility and savagery within ourselves, and the fact that this particular prejudice, this particular bigotry is dying very hard tells us how deep it is, how deeply engrained it is. We have overcome many of our prejudices in our attempts, civilizationís attempt to civilize ourselves into a society that treats all people decently, but I see as Professor Gomes pointed out earlier, I can see us accomplishing this one too. The psychic question that could come up is I can hear our self esteem screaming, "Yes, but now where am I going to get my self esteem if I do not have anybody to look down to?" and I keep the question to that. The question of that has to be that we remember our long term, overall most fundamental goal that our own self esteem is sufficiently solid and strong that we will not need to look down on anybody.

Paul E. Lynch, M.D.: With such a wonderfully strong statement, I am a bit hesitant to disagree just a little bit with the beginning, because I think that there was a point where psychoanalysis went wrong. Sigmund Freud, I would argue, was not as bad as those who came later. Sigmund Freud clearly said ambiguous things. He said things that I would consider positive, and things I would consider negative, but he did argue that homosexual persons should be considered for analytic training with regard to their entire person, and not excluded entirely because they were homosexual. People who followed Freud in this country had a far worse stance, and they did go wrong. Does anyone else want to comment on that before we go on?

Professor Gomes: Perhaps I should respond because that is something with which I thoroughly agree. In our business, we call it sin. I know that is not a concept with which you are altogether familiar or particularly comfortable, but we do recognize that we do not go wrong, we are wrong, and what we try to do is first recognize that which is the first stage, and what replaces the person upon whom we have looked down is our affirmation of the person to whom we look up. That is why -- in at least the Jewish and Christian traditions with which I am familiar -- the notion of being created not as we are, but in the image of God as we would aspire to be is the most profound act of affirmation that can be directed towards anyone. Once people realize that the direction in which they should compare themselves is up and not down, things begin to change. One only has to look at communities in the deep South of this country. I can remember thirty years ago how violently and rigidly segregated many of these communities, nearly all of these communities were and within the lifetime of many of the youngest people there not to mention the oldest people, these things have changed remarkably. It is not that there has been a new book out or a new theory, it has to do with a new sense of consciousness and mutual dependence. That is a powerful model that I think is efficacious elsewhere as well.

Paul E. Lynch, M.D.: Thank you. We will have one more question from each side --I am sorry for the others for whom we will not have time today -- and then we will wrap up. I will ask Susan Vaughan to come up and pose one final question for the panel or comment as she would please, and then we will have to end for the day. So, next question.

Question - Charles: My name is Charles [last name deleted] and I am the Executive Producer for "In the Life", the PBS Series on lesbian and gay issues. Thank you. The panelists today talked about putting in context prejudice against women and people of other races and people of other religions in the past. I am glad to hear the American is becoming a more welcoming and more gay affirming organization. I think one difference that I see against gay people and prejudice towards gay people is that there has been this effort in the past and a few months ago -- and on the cover of Newsweek there was a whole story on the ex-gay movement -- and one difference that I see is that there are still a lot of people who think that gay people can change and to me it is fundamental to combat that prejudice. I have two questions, one for members of the American. What is it on your Committee of Homosexuality that you have been doing to address the ex-gay movement and their members of your community and psychiatrists and psychologists who are part of its international umbrella organization? And number two, for Professor Gomes, what can we do to challenge church leaders to not jump on the bandwagon of the ex-gay movement?

Paul E. Lynch, M.D.: Professor Gomes, I will give you a second to think about your answer, because I have mine ready. As far as the work of the Committee on Issues of Homosexuality is concerned, I am going to first make an aside and let you know, in case you do not, that another organization just this week, the American Psychiatric Association, has passed a strongly worded resolution stating clearly that treatments that have the goal of changing sexual orientation have been found to be harmful to patients in that they cause an increase in anxiety and depression and other things. I do not have the statement memorized, but it is a very clear statement that the American Psychiatric Association does not support this kind of a coercive treatment, which is in fact harmful. Our own organization is working on this. We hope not to be 25 years behind the APA again. We have as Ralph mentioned earlier, a Committee on Scientific Activities that has commissioned Bert Cohler and Bob Galatzer-Levy to review the literature on treatment of gay and lesbian people. Our committee, just yesterday, reviewed Bertís reports, and we are putting together some statements that we will propose that the American Psychoanalytic adopt which will also address clearly the effects of these so called reparative or conversion therapies and the adverse effects that they have on the mental health of gay and lesbian people. So this time, I can at least answer the question by saying we are working on it. Thank you.

Professor Gomes: As far as the religious, conservative fascination with reparative therapies is concerned, one needs to understand that if the religious community accepts the notion that sexual identity is an innate and God-given enterprise, the basis for their prejudice against homosexuality is thoroughly destroyed. Therefore they will do everything possible to regard homosexuality as either a learned or an acquired or a chosen trait or even a built-in disability -- as the great theologian Trent Lott described it -- similar to kleptomania. If they concede at any point that the identity issue is innate, the moral and the theological ground underneath the prejudice is cut out, and so they will try every possibility until they have exhausted them all and are confronted only with the possibilities that make sense. Now, they are particularly attracted to pseudo-science and particularly attracted to scientific paraphernalia and apparatuses. Every evangelical denomination has an in-house psychiatrist, psychotherapist, or someone who can babble from the point of view of the denomination, as well as, people who babble out of religious conviction, and they need that in some sense to provide secular assurances that they are doing the right thing. They are the equivalent of the creationists in biology and science. Hence, perhaps the most important thing is for real scientists, I mean real psychoanalysts, people such as yourselves, to give no aid or comfort to these theories in any way, shape or form, to confront the practitioners of these views and identify them if you believe them to be frauds and charlatans, to unmask them as frauds and charlatans, and to give them no aid at all, because as long as science provides a sort of secular cover in our country for all sorts of nonsense, the religious conservatives will use science in any of its perverse and bizarre forms to support their positions. So those of you who hold the authority to credential and to give legitimacy, and who are on the frontiers of your field are the ones who can really pull the rug out from under these rascals.

Paul E. Lynch, M.D.: Thank you. The last question from the floor.

Question - Zvi: My name is Zvi [last name deleted] and I am a psychoanalyst in New York. This has been a most wonderful experience and I want to congratulate Dr. Lynch for having included Professor Gomes in this wonderful panel because, just as we have to accept the evil that was done institutionally and politically, the first evil was done by the church. It is the church that made sex a sin and the work of the devil, and it is there that we have really to address the religious groups and tell them that the real sin is murder and aggression and not sexuality. So in this sense, I think the message given by the gay people today is that they are championing tolerance for sexuality as such, not just gay sexuality, but sexuality for all of you. In this context, I would like to remind you of the long tradition of the church, i.e., the inquisition that persecuted gays. It was not just a matter of homophobia, it was burning them at the stake, which is exactly what the Naziís did during World War II. So the point here is to address the fact that witches and gays were burnt for being sexual human beings, and we are all human beings here. That is my point.

Paul E. Lynch, M.D.: And now for the last comment.

Professor Gomes: I am a very visible minority in this house today, but I will not decline my privilege of agreeing with the last speaker in affirming the terrible role that organized and even disorganized religion has played in the victimization of sex. You would think from listening to a lot of religious people that the original sin of course was sex, and that is the spin that was put on the story of Adam and Eve in the garden, but of course, any competent exegesis of that text indicates that the original sin is obedience or disobedience and not sex. I try to suggest in my book that it was Saint Augustine who invented shame and sex as the double curse with which human beings have been burdened, and described the sexual organs as instruments of shame. That is Augustine. Now you would have a field day with Augustine, I am sure, in your fifty minute hours, but we are heirs of this. We have centuries of angst and anxiety and sexual confusion to undo, and to realize that sex is a gift of God and not an accident that happened along the way is one of the most important liberating elements that theologians, together with you, can address. We cannot address it, however, if you and we are at loggerheads on these issues. If we regard you as having stolen our magic, and you regard us as simply impediments along the greasy pole to modernity, nothing is going to happen here, but together we can do a great deal to restore sex to the place God meant it to be in creation.

Paul E. Lynch, M.D.: Now you have them talking about sex and I cannot stop them.

Nancy J. Chodorow, Ph.D.: I want to say two things. First, It was wonderful to bring Professor Gomes today. I both agree and disagree with him -- I am delighted that he brought up original sin, and on the question of original sin, when it comes to correct sex, it is both religion and psychoanalysis who are at fault, but I am not sure we want to decide who is more at fault. I want to raise one other issue about this panel -- speaking of permissible prejudice -- and that is the secular-religious split in psychoanalysis. It is a brilliant and wonderful addition to have somebody who is coming from a really religious point of view, as I think that perhaps another "permissible prejudice" that we may all have had over the years as psychoanalysts is the dismissal and criticism of religion.

Paul E. Lynch, M.D.: Thank you. One thing that I was sure of when we had all of the panelists lined up was that we were a success. I had help in putting this together though with Leon and all of his committee, and our committee, and for the final comment, I would like to introduce one of my fellow travelers here who I had mentioned to you earlier today. Susan Vaughan was accepted to the Columbia Psychoanalytic Institute at the same time that I was accepted in Boston. Susan is on a much faster track. She is now the author of two books. She is a graduate, and on the faculty of the Columbia Psychoanalytic Institute, and she has taken the mantle from Ralph Roughton and is now his successor as the Chair of the Committee on Issues of Homosexuality. Susan Vaughan.

Susan Vaughan, M.D.: There are just a couple of comments I wanted to make in summing up some of the responses to what has been said and then one final one. First of all, as to the question raised by the person from Lambda, I think what analysts need to do are two things. One is to get political, testify in cases that involve gay parents and other things like that in our courts, and second of all, we are in the best position to argue against the pseudoscientific studies going on. We are the ones with the training to be able to take them apart and repudiate them. As well, we should be the ones to do new studies to put in their place. So I think that is a real challenge to us as an organization.

Regarding the role of gay patients as cash cows in the practices of analysts, I think that one important point of that is that of course that is true, analysts make a living from their patients. On the other hand, I believe that in beginning to realize the amount of harm that analysts have caused gay patients, there has been a tremendous amount of guilt within the analysts within this organization and I think in fact, although it has not been said directly, that that guilt is one of the primary motives that allowed us to change so far and so fast -- the fact that people know they were wrong, they are sorry they were wrong and they want to do the right thing and do what it takes to make things right now. Finally, and this is kind of a comment that I think maybe Professor Gomes will have something to say about, I had the pleasure of attending his sermons when I was an undergraduate at Harvard and one thing that I was struck by the week that Matthew Shepard was killed is the same week that there were metal detectors outside the theatre where Terrance McNallyís play, "Corpus Christi," was opening and the thing that seemed to stir people up about this play was the gay Jesus-like character and I found myself as I thought about the Christ-like position of the murdered Matthew Shepard, as well as, the metal detectors, thinking about the fact that really I think the idea of the gay Jesus sends out an awful lot of things. To me it was kind of a crystallizing image which is to say if Jesus did come back today, would not being gay be one form he might take if really the goal of him coming back is to see how people are and how they act towards other people? I mean if one of his points is to see that people treat each other in the way that you are suggesting, then would that not be one of the best disguises or forms to take to really see how Christian people are?

Professor Gomes: I would accept that notion, and I would say that when Jesus came the first time he came as someone outside of the accepted levels of expectation. They expected a King and he came as a baby. They expected an earthly political power and he came offering a spiritual kingdom. He was expected to keep to the rules of Jewish males of his period, and at every opportunity he violated those rules by transforming them. So my guess is that the kind of Nordic, white Christ with a little hint of Italian because he is a Roman Catholic and hardly any hint of a Jewish identity is an image that is as contrary ultimately to the mission and persona of the Son of God as one can get. I will not say "if," I will say when he comes back, it is very likely to be in a place and in a form where the latest prejudice is raging, whatever that may be, and whether it is a black gay woman or Heaven knows what, it will be at a point where our deepest convictions are confronted and if we want to prepare for that day, we should confront our deepest convictions now because that is the context I think in which Jesus will manifest himself.

Paul E. Lynch, M.D.: Well, thank you all. Being of Roman Catholic background myself, I am prone to confession, and I must confess that I have violated the tenets of our profession, as we have gone overtime. I appreciate your patience and here to wrap up is, once again, Dr. Leon Hoffman.

Leon Hoffman, M.D.: I just wanted to thank all of the panelists for their work, the staff for making this possible, particularly Debra Eder, Carolyn Gatto and Dottie Jeffries, and I would like to thank the audience particularly for their very incisive questions. We do not have the answers, but the questions were extremely stimulating. Thank you all.


  Copyright, 1999, The American Psychoanalytic Foundation. All Rights Reserved.
all photographs by Mervin S. Stewart, M.D.