Is It REALLY Possible To Change One’s Sexuality (Or Even Pray The Gay Away)?
Now NBA star Jason Collins, I’m really happy for you, and imma let you finish, but Antoine Dodson had one of the best closet door splintering reveals of all times! *in a Kanye voice*
Seriously, there really is no topping renouncing one’s homosexuality in favor of the Hebrew Israelites. A celebrity can admit that they made a sex tape with Beyoncé and Rihanna, the the entire offensive line of the Tennessee Titans, a banana, and a unicorn, and I would still be like, “…yeah but you didn’t become a Hebrew Israelite…” *Kanye shrug.* As far as I am concerned, that’s just like living most of your life on a full diet of fruits, vegetables and meats and then suddenly one day, deciding that you would only eat air and rays from the sun. I mean, were the growing network of reformer Christian churches not accepting new memberships? But this is what Dodson had to say about his shocking news on Huffington Post Live:
“I‘ve been sitting at home, having a lot of free time to myself, so I have been sitting, reading the good book itself, you know the Bible – stuff like that – and I notice that it has spoke that we should follow the law to the commandments and I know that being gay is one of the commandments – I don’t know where people get that: be who you are and all this that and the other. No, the bible states against it. SO I’m like, you know I am tired of all the wickedness of the world; I’m just tired of all the lies; God, the most High, get me right. And I feel like this is my way.”
When asked if he was trying to pray the gay away, Dobson said that it was not that, but rather, “If you really want to change your life and just get rid of it; you can. And that’s what I am doing.”
It’s very true. You can change your life, however, can you really change your sexuality?
I think what captures people’s attention most about the Dobson story (after all, he hasn’t been relevant to pop culture in a couple of years) is that it challenges – or in some instances reaffirms – what people think about sexuality. Challenging in the idea that sexuality is rigid and what you are attracted to sexually is what ultimately defines your sexuality. And then there is the other camp, who believe that sexuality is indeed a choice. And that people do choose whether to be gay, straight, bisexual or a damn furry.
The latter usually includes folks, who quote biblical verses of proof that homosexuality is a sin and as such, is a choice (after all, you choose to sin, right?). Even in the age, where science is finding more evidence to support the idea that our sexuality might be more biologically ingrained in us than we think, I was personally surprised at how many folks still believe in the choice aspect. True, we have seen these sort of sexual flip-floppers before, most notably, Anne Heche, who once was in a serious relationship with Ellen DeGeneres but then went on to marry a man. And you can’t forget about gospel recording artist and Pastor Donnie McClurkin, who like Dodson, credits his faith with saving him from his homosexual lifestyle. So could sexuality be a little more fluid than we thought?
“Well for some people, sexuality has the ability to be fluid. But generally a person’s sexuality is made up of more than one thing; sexuality is made up of a person’s orientation, their behaviors as well as their personal identity,” says Dr. Natasha Watson-Mack, human sexuality coach, counselor and educator.
I reached out to Dr. Watson-Mack, in hopes of getting more clarity into this strange and wonderfully confusing world of human sexuality, particularly insight into the idea that one can change their sexuality. As suspected, she said it is complicated. Said Dr. Watson-Mack, it is our orientation, which tells us what we are attracted, or sexually stimulated, by; our behavior is what you act on and your identity is basically how a person sees themselves, which explains why we have folks out here, who might be orientation and behaviorally queer, but identify as straight. But while your behavior and identity can change, your orientation, who you are attracted to, pretty much remains in tact. “A woman doesn’t stop being straight because she decides to not date and be sexually active with men anymore. Her orientation didn’t change, just her behavior,” she says.
Dr. Watson-Mack claims that while a person’s sexuality can change based on internal and external environment factors, including not being settled emotionally with who they are, pressure from family and others in their social networks and of course religious influence, she cautions about championing the idea of praying the gay away, as sometimes the suppression of natural inclination can lead to oppression. And it is probably with good reason considering the recent deaths of three teenage boys who were allegedly torture at a gay-to-straight “conversion camp” in South Africa. According to published reports, the latest death involved a 15-year-old boy, who suffered brain damage, severe dehydration and malnourishment, a broken arm and bruises (including being covered in cigarette burns).
Likewise, there is no solid proof that gay conversion therapy actually works, as even its most ardent supporter, Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University, now repudiated his own research, which suggests that “highly motivated” homosexuals could go from gay to straight. In his retraction, he states that the major flaw in his much-touted study, was that there was no way to truly evaluate the credibility of those who reported a change in their sexual orientation. He writes of his retraction: “I offered several (unconvincing) reasons why it was reasonable to assume that the subject’s reports of change were credible and not self-deception or outright lying. But the simple fact is that there was no way to determine if the subject’s accounts of change were valid.”
I don’t know what this all means for Dodson himself, other than reaffirming that sexuality is messy and complicated and often times subjective. But what we do know is that even though a person’s behavior and identity may change, it doesn’t mean that their orientation does. It’s possible that he will change his behavior and identity, but his orientation could be towards men. Or it could be possible that he was bisexual all along, thus his orientation, behavior and identity is more fluid. All I know is that this is why I hope that as a society, we really do get to the place where sexual identity doesn’t matter, because really and truly, it doesn’t. Like seriously Dodson, you want to roll with the dudes who stand out on street corners, harassing women? So much for hiding your wife and kids…