Gay Science: The Ethics of Sexual Orientation Research

By Timothy F. Murphy | Go to book overview

7 SCIENCE AND THE FUTURE

Suspicion of science and medicine is almost one of the foundational canons of gay culture, a suspicion born of the excesses of sexological science in the nine teenth centuryand revisited more recently in the real and perceived failures attributed to biomedicine in the AIDS epidemic. 1 Gay culture has often been predicated on mutually incriminating antagonisms with the institutions of medicine, law, government, and religion--even if individual gay people have found support from specific physicians, attorneys, legislators, and religious communities. There is continuing evidence of heterosexism in the health professions, and efforts at educational reform in those professions can hardly be described as robust. 2 The battle for equal protection under the law sees new skirmishes not only in the legacy of the Supreme Court Bowers v. Hardwick decision but also in the efforts of some jurisdictions to outlaw what they call special rights for homosexuals. 3 While members of a religion do not hold uniform views or behave uniformly, the most socially significant denominations in the United States and around the world continue to condemn homoeroticism as sinful and socially corrosive, this despite the presence of significant numbers of gay people in those denominations, not only in the rank and file laity but also in ecclesiastical office as well.

It will not be surprising therefore, in an age confident of its flourishing scientific abilities, that Richard Pillard, a psychiatrist working at a prominent urban university medical center, can still worry that because society does not treat homoeroticism like a neutral trait, as it does left-handedness, gay people may face extinction: "The price to pay for relaxing our guard is extermination."4 Pillard's worry is worth taking seriously if only because it recurs among both

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Gay Science: The Ethics of Sexual Orientation Research
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Scientific Accounts of Sexual Orientation 13
  • 2 - The Value of Sexual Orientation Research 49
  • 3 - The Practice of Sexual Orientation Therapy 75
  • 4 - Controlling the Sexual Orientation of Children 103
  • 5 - The Use of Sexual Orientation Tests 137
  • 6 - Sexual Orientation Research, Nature, and the Law 165
  • 7 - Science and the Future 193
  • Epilogue 223
  • Notes 231
  • Index 259
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