Sunday, December 14, 2014

Homosexuality and Its Cure (1936)

Sexology : The Magazine of Sex Science was a magazine founded by Hugo Gernsbach ('the father of Science Fiction') and seems to have flourished in the 1930s. It had many anatomical diagrams and articles about 'female inverts', pregnancy, infibulation, venereal disease etc. It probably sold well. This letter is in the 'Questions and Answers' column and has to be assumed to be typical of its time, regarding homosexuality as a sickness to be cured by determination and the love of a good woman. Autre temps, autre moeurs. What is slightly strange is that the 'doctor' providing the answer suggests physical violence if the other man persists in his attentions - 'beat him up.' Odd advice from a doctor. The reference to drink - 'you got drunk and became intimate' may refer to other matter in an abridged letter or simply be an assumption…again, curious.

Editor, Sexology.

 My pastor, a newly ordained priest, has advised me to present my case to you,  in the hope that you may be of help.  I am 25 years old and, for four years, have indulged in homosexual practices with a younger man. It began when I, who had given up studying for a clergyman, in the belief that it was not my vocation went with this young man to pique the girl with whom I had been keeping company.  He professed love for me; but, when we went to confession, we had the wrongful nature of our acts pointed out, and had to promise not to see each other again. It was much easier to promise this than to do this.  He protested love for me, and when he was ill, sent for me, and begged  me "not to let any girl get me."  But now he's keeping steady company with a girl, to drown suspicions people may have of us. I hate to give him up, though I know it is the right thing to do, so far as society and the church are concerned.  But I want to have a home of my own, a wife and children. Will I ever be a will to do this, in spite of years of the wrong kind of activities?  My pastor  says he believes that your answer, as a physician, will be valuable to me, as well as his, as a priest. He tells me "Suffer if you must, but be pure."  You can see how little it helps. Can this other man possibly make a success of marriage?
I am a nervous wreck and don't know which way to turn.  A.N. Maryland


 I thank your priest for his kind thoughts in regard to me, and the work that I'm trying to do. He is a Catholic and I am a Protestant;  that makes no difference when it comes to helping the sick abnormals of life.

 Now, you're been simply a sick man since you got drunk and became intimate with this other man.  Understand, I am saying that you are sick, not that you are bad. The moralist says you are sinful, and so does the clergyman; but I say you are "sick,"  just as though you had rheumatism or cancer. But the idea is that you know just what the sickness is; you have brought it on yourself and are continuing it by this desire for another man.

 And you will have to make up your mind whether you are going to keep on being sick. That is for you to decide; no use in your going to confession, repenting, but doing nothing to stop the recurring symptoms of the sickness.

First you have to stop seeing this other man, writing to him, or even thinking of him. If separation hurts him, that is his misfortune, not yours.  If you find that he will not help you in this program by kindness and advice, and keeps on seeking your company, I advise you to use physical force -beat him up - and tell him  that you're going to keep on till he leaves you.  Will it make you nervous? Very much so, but you are that way already.

Then, deliberately cultivate the company of good women-  call on them, take them out socially – just as you would take a dose of medicine once a day.  One day, you will find one you can love and you will love you. Then, if you marry, life will be more normal.

There are no drugs to help you:  the cure is simply a realisation on your part that you are sick, and the determination to cure yourself. And I would advise you to do it, no matter how much it hurts you. - Editor

1 comment:

  1. As ridiculous as this advice sounds to modern ears, it is commendable that this unfortunate gay man's pastor suggested he seek out "scientific/medical" advice in 1936 rather than simply condemning his behavior outright. Labeling a gay person as "sick," in a medical sense, rather than just "bad," with the belief that the person is still human and has value however much behavioral change is desired sounds quite modern, at least to me. In 2014, sadly, there are still many people, religiously-inclined or not, who believe gay people to be both sick AND bad. A recent documentary of the persecution of gay people in Russia comes to mind, not to mention the American evangelical media stars who blame gays for everything from tsunamis to Obamcare. To the bigots and persecutors of today, the editor's final words of advice also apply.