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Homosexual Recruitment vs. Heterosexual Recruitment (review)

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Homosexual Recruitment vs. Heterosexual Recruitment

(Book Notes: Created Equal)

From Austin Cline,

Your Guide to Agnosticism / Atheism.


January 04, 2006


Homosexual Recruitment vs. Heterosexual Recruitment (Book Notes:

Created Equal)

The Christian Right regularly accuses gays of trying to 'recruit'

young people into the homosexual lifestyle. For such Christians,

it's inconceivable that people would be gay simply because it's

what's most natural for them - being gay must be something like a

movement which one is converted to by current members. The truth,

however, is that Christian Right are the ones doing the recruiting.

In Created Equal: Why Gay Rights Matter to America, Michael Nava &

Robert Dawidoff write:

Why, one must ask, if heterosexuality is "natural," is all this

effort being expended to promote it? Is it because what is being

promoted is not natural sexuality but a form of social organization

that excludes those to whom its promotions are not addressed?

The anti-gay right, oddly enough, understands this as most of

the heterosexual world does not. The theory of "homosexual

recruitment" advanced by them to oppose gay and lesbian rights rests

on the premise that sexual desire is amorphous and can be channeled

into homosexuality as easily as into heterosexuality. Thus, because

anti-gay rightists believe that "the homosexual lifestyle is based

on the recruitment and exploitation of vulnerable young men,"

homosexuality must be suppressed to save all those sad young men.

In fact, however, heterosexuals are not recruited by

homosexuals; rather, homosexuals are recruited by heterosexuals

almost from the moment they are born. The homosexual recruitment

fantasy is simply one more instance of how heterosexuals project

their own behavior onto the victims of that behavior as a

justification for persisting in it.

Part of the explanation for this is that the Christian Right defines

homosexuality improperly. According to them, homosexuality is purely

a matter of behavior, not sexual attraction or orientation. A person

who engages in sexual activity with a member of the same sex is gay,

regardless of whom they are inherently attracted to. A person who

engages in sexual activity with a member of the opposite sex is

straight, regardless of whom they are inherently attracted to.

So long as homosexuality is limited to behavior, it's easier to

understand how a person can imagine that one might be "converted"

either to or away from being gay. It's also easier to understand why

they would refer to the "homosexual lifestyle" - a lifestyle is a

pattern of behaviors and, for the Christian Right, homosexuality is

nothing but a type of behavior.

As Nava and Dawidoff argue, however, the only "recruitment" going on

is being done by the Christian Right. These Christians see the

traditional structures of power, authority, and privilege being worn

away by the winds of modern culture and this disturbs them greatly.

There was a time when white Protestant Christians were at the top of

the social ladder and defined the common culture which all Americans

partook of. Today, not even Christianity itself retains the vigor

and power necessary to serve as the common cultural bedrock of

American society.

The culture has no business promoting heterosexuality at the expense

of homosexuality, and if this sounds radical, then ask yourself if

you agree that the interests of white Americans or male Americans

should not be promoted at the expense of black of female Americans.

The same principle of equality is at work in all three cases.

Promoting heterosexuality and all the current trappings of being

straight is one of the principle goals of the Christian Right today.

They seem to think that reinforced heterosexuality will help

preserve traditional religion and social norms which have been

undermined by the advance of equal rights for groups like gays and


The basic rights and equality of American citizens should not be

restricted on account of incidental characteristics like race,

gender, and sexual orientation. Most of America has come to accept

this when it comes to the first two (and some other)

characteristics, but too few Americans are willing to make the same

step when it comes to gays.

C2006 About, Inc., A part of the New York Times Company. All rights


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