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Homosexuality vs. Heterosexuality

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Is homosexuality immoral, moral, or not open to the realm of choice? I think the critical question is whether or not one's sexual orientation is chosen by the individual or it is something biological which the individual can not control.

What do you think?

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The Rational Egoist

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Guest RadCap

I think the question of whether or not sexual orientation is volitional or biological is not something "Philosophy, Politics, and Economics" can answer.

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I agree it's not a philosophical issue.

My latest inquiries on the subject led me to believe that sexuality has purely biological roots. As such, it is not a matter of choice. What IS a matter of choice is if you pursue that impulse, if you do work to satisfy that craving.

I think it is immoral to NOT being gay, if that's your sexual orientation. There is great value to be obtained thru the sincere, authentic, expression of one's highest sexual ideal.

My view has always been that man's proper life has two components:

1. Work, as the productive expression of the self, including here education and self-improvement.

and

2. Leisure, as the natural value of every living being, including rest, relaxation, entertainment, sexual behaviour and romantic relationships.

Work is the value matching survival, and leisure is the value satisfying the need for pleasure.

I do not agree with Objectivism on the point that survival should be the ultimate and single value, as survival and pleasure can be at odds. Objectivism also holds that one has no duty to live a life of pain, so I concluded that embedded in this statement is the proper recognition of pleasure as a proper value.

I understand, and agree with, the Objectivist idea that leasure has survival value, in that it is some sort of "medicine for the consciousness", but I think it's much more than that. I do not pleasure myself to keep me mentally healty. My pleasure is a goal in itself.

My view: Survival, as the foundation of all life and all possibilities, and Leisure, as the expression of a prosperous and pleasurable existence.

Ayn Rand makes a great point in favor of survival, but it seem to me that she never really enjoyed life properly. I'm preparing an essay on the points on which I do not agree with Objectivism. I hope it will provide for a nice debate here, when it's done.

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Guest RadCap

I do not believe the level of understanding required to make even a rudimentary determination exists today. The reason for this is the understanding of consciousness (psychology) and its relation to matter (biology) are extremely limited. Psychology is currently an undeveloped science lead by the wrong principles and biology is being overrun by junk science - of both the determinist and mystic persuasion.

Thus, while it may be true that many of todays scientists are concluding biology determines sexual orientation, that has no more meaning than saying many of today's philosophers are concluding consciousness determines reality.

--

Now you have begun a new thread inside this one - a thread concerning pleasure vs survival. First off, I would suggest you begin a new topic if you want to pursue this idea further.

That said, I believe you have set up a straw man - claiming Objectivism somehow severs pleasure from "survival".

You are also using the term survival when Rand specifically indicated man is not about mere survival - about merely existing. Living QUA man, with all the nature of man entails, is what she said. Since experiencing pleasure is part of that nature, it is thus not denied BY that principle.

You also set up a false dicotomy. You present the "productive expression of the self" and "education" and "self-improvement" as things APART from what you name "pleasure". While there IS a distinction between work and leisure (the difference being the ends they serve), properly there is no similar division between work and pleasure. Pleasure is what one experiences when engaged in such proper and productive behavior.

You further indicate that Objectivism only implicitly recognizes pleasure as a "proper value". This is most definitely a straw man. Ms. Rand wrote much, both in her fiction and non-fiction, EXPLICITLY about pleasure - especially sexual pleasure - being an extremely high value (so long as the pleasure has a rational basis). Your statement therefore makes me question your understanding of Objectivism and thus your ability to present an accurate accounting of Objectivism.

If this post is any indication, your essay will not be as you hoped. It will not be worth debate because it will not be about Objectivism. Before you waste your time attacking more straw men, you may want to confirm that the points of contention you have with Objectivism are ACTUALLY Objectivist premises. This site is well-suited to such confirmation. I suggest you take advantage of it.

(If you care to respond, please do so in a new thread)

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Yes RadCap, I agree with your conclusion that the level of understanding necessary to make such a judgment does not exist yet today. However, I was merely wondering, IF homosexuality was based on choice, would it be immoral? I suppose however, that such speculation is not a good thing to do because any conclusion drawn would have to be based on the context of reality, context which we do not yet know at present.

As to Gabriel's position, I agree with you RadCap that it is flawed, and I would like it discussed on another thread so that I may add my thoughts on it as well.

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Gabriel, if you truly "understand, and agree with, the Objectivist idea that leasure has survival value," then where is the conflict? I don't see one, and I agree with RadCap's criticisms of those views. Also, I would recommend reading Harry Binswanger's The Biological Basis of Teleological Concepts to get a proper perspective on the pleasure/pain mechanism's origin and purpose, and also Tara Smith's Viable Values (particularly chapter five on what she calls "flourishing", where she explains why "life", on the Objectivist ethics, doesn't mean simply "surviving").

As for the original question, from experience (having known several homo- or bisexual people) it seems to be a psychological issue (although I couldn't form a valid generalization based on that, since I'm merely stating a correlation I've noticed and don't have a full understanding of the causal relationship involved).

Gay people I've known often explicitly cite some issue from their childhood or something like that as the root of their attraction to people of the same sex. For instance, if a man felt unloved by his father as a child, he may turn to men who remind them of their father in some way as sexual partners as an adult, as a way to (over-) compensate for the lack of paternal love. (This particular phenomenon can also occur heterosexually--e.g., a woman who felt unloved by her father as a child may as an adult prefer sexual partners who remind her of her father.)

I don't mean to psychologize; I'm simply observing that I've seen this occur several times, and often the person has explicitly identified this as the cause of their behavior. When this is the case, it is a psychological issue, and could perhaps be "fixed" by dealing with it rationally (e.g., realizing that one doesn't really need paternal love, and that one can't really substitute sexual relationships with other people for it). As it is behavior based on irrational premises, I would classify it as immoral. But so long as it is between consenting adults, it is certainly not as immoral as are many other things (which involve the violation of others rights, or are more self-destructive).

This whole discussion brings up another interesting question, namely the flip-side: How is heterosexuality "justified"? Is it biologically determined? I think this is a deeper question, and the answers to discussions about homosexuality will ultimately depend on the status of heterosexuality. Looking at it this way might lead to some answers, then.

These are just some thoughts. I do not claim to have any knowledge regarding the proper answers to these questions.

P.S. Perhaps this discussion is superfluous anyway, because I agree with RadCap's initial sentiment that "the question of whether or not sexual orientation is volitional or biological is not something 'Philosophy, Politics, and Economics' can answer."

Edited by AshRyan

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Guest Chrissycrunch

[font=G :rolleyes: eneva]

First time posting:

The debate over whether sexuality is an orientation or choice seems the wrong argument. All human actions are by choice. Even if we are oriented a given way sexually we still choose our actions and that is where the debate lies. There seems to be no moral question if the answer is orientation which is why some want to focus on it- it is the easy way out. But as I said, actions are still chosen so it really is not a way out.

So that leaves us with 'are homosexual actions moral'? Again, not so easy. What kinds of actions are we talking about? Actions that make one happy? Or actions that debase ones self? Having anonymous sex with a hundred people in a bath house? Not so moral. Having a loving, consenting, relationship with someone you value? Always moral.

The same questions we ask with heterosexuality are what we ask when looking at homosexuality. There is no difference morally.

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All human actions are by choice. Even if we are oriented a given way sexually we still choose our actions and that is where the debate lies.

A human being is not a floating consciousness. In order to benefit their lives, human beings have to act in accordance with reality, which includes, one's own biological nature. For example, you can not choose, by whim, to stop eating. You, as a human being, need to eat food in order to survive and you can not change that by whim.

In the same token, it is possible, that one's sexuality is the result of biological factors. You of course have the choice to act against that biological nature or not.

One does not determine their biological makeup according to their own whim or choice.

Thus, the question still remains as to whether or not homosexuality is the result of one's biological nature, one's choices, or a combination of both. A deeper question is, is sexuality the result of one's biological nature or one's choices?

If one's sexuality is the result of one's biological nature, I hold that it would be immoral for an individual to act against the facts of reality (in this context, their own biological nature). If this were true, it would be immoral for a homosexual to act against their homosexuality and the same for a heterosexual, and it would be moral for a homosexual to act in accordance with the facts of reality (their biological nature) and the same for a heterosexual.

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I've said my piece on the topic. However, I must respond to this statement:

Having a loving, consenting, relationship with someone you value? Always moral.

Man can hold or accept values which are in opposition to his nature - which are vices and not virtures. Thus the mere holding of a value does not make an act moral. Loving something does not make that emotion valid. And being a voluntary human interaction does not make the interaction proper for man qua man.

Therefore the claim that the combination of these things is *always* moral is incorrect (regardless of whether it is applied to hetero or homo sexual relations).

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Guest Grantsinmypants

If sexual orientation is not a choice, expect to see every person guilty of rape, child molestation, and child pornography let out prison tomorrow. Go ahead, parse the definitions of those offenses by taking the sexual element out of them, and all you'll have left is assault (a lesser offense than rape), diaper changing, and pediatric diagrams.

What are the the four possible sexual lifestyles a person could have?

Asexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality, and homosexuality.

Asexuality has to be a disvalue because it's stagnation (why stagnation is bad is a whole other issue).

Bisexuality, I think, is basically sexual pantheism (why pantheism is bad is a whole other issue).

Homosexuality v. Heterosexuality? I'm not really sure, but I'm inclined ( :) ) to side with heterosexuality. Here's why: As far as the esthetic and emotional rewards that a monogamous relationship with someone brings (again, a whole other issue), I think the possibility for those rewards is almost equally present with both homosexual and heterosexual relationships. I give the edge to heterosexuality because of the possibility to child rearing and the joy that brings (look, another whole other issue). Oh, and please don't bring up things like adoption and artificial insemination, because that's just a homosexual couple's way of piggy backing off of heterosexuality.

Grant Williams

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If sexual orientation is not a choice, expect to see every person guilty of rape, child molestation, and child pornography let out prison tomorrow. Go ahead, parse the definitions of those offenses by taking the sexual element out of them, and all you'll have left is assault (a lesser offense than rape), diaper changing, and pediatric diagrams.

What are the the four possible sexual lifestyles a person could have?

Asexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality, and homosexuality.

Asexuality has to be a disvalue because it's stagnation (why stagnation is bad is a whole other issue).

Bisexuality, I think, is basically sexual pantheism (why pantheism is bad is a whole other issue).

Homosexuality v. Heterosexuality?  I'm not really sure, but I'm inclined  (  :)  ) to side with heterosexuality.  Here's why:  As far as the esthetic and emotional rewards that a monogamous relationship with someone brings (again, a whole other issue), I think the possibility for those rewards is almost equally present with both homosexual and heterosexual relationships.  I give the edge to heterosexuality because of the possibility to child rearing and the joy that brings (look, another whole other issue).  Oh, and please don't bring up things like adoption and artificial insemination, because that's just a homosexual couple's way of piggy backing off of heterosexuality.

Grant Williams

It's non sequitur that if homosexuality is not a choice, then sexual assuault, rape, et al. are morally justifiable. You ignore the fact that sexual assuault and rape involves a COERCION of the victim by the violator regardless of the violator's sexual orientation.

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Guest Grantsinmypants

I simply used those analogies to point out that, if in fact, one's sexual orientation was beyond his control, then the specific types sexual desire that one fulfills by raping someone, molesting a kid, or looking at nude kids would be an integral part of their identity. If that's the case, then they should definitely not be punished for acting within their nature.

Grant Williams

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I simply used those analogies to point out that, if in fact, one's sexual orientation was beyond his control, then the specific types sexual desire that one fulfills by raping someone, molesting a kid, or looking at nude kids would be an integral part of their identity. If that's the case, then they should definitely not be punished for acting within their nature.

Grant Williams

Again, what you said does not follow. Just invert that for a moment and see how absurd your analogy is:

If heterosexuality is not a choice, then raping someone of the opposite sex is justified because it is one's nature.

How in the world does it follow that if sexual orientation is non-volitional, then coercing individuals to fulfill one's sexual desires is moral?

Your analogy is tantamount to the argument that since man naturally hungers for food when his body needs it, he is morally justified in stealing anyone else's food and in brutally assaulting or killing anyone who attempts to stop him from stealing food in order to fullfill his hunger.

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Guest Grantsinmypants

Again, I'm not attesting to the morality or immorality of any specific sexual orientation. I'm simply pointing out that because a person's sexual orientation, his sexual desires, is within his volitional control, to excuse a rapist, child molestor, or a child pornographer on the basis that he helplessly oriented to such behavior is absurd. It's absurd because it's not true.

Comparing the desire to eat to the desire to rape is erroneous because the act of eating does not necessarily, and hopefully would not, involve the coersion of someone else. On the other hand, rape without coersion is, by definition, not rape.

The ramifications of the choice of a man to sexually desire men or women are obviously not going to be as severe as the ramifications of the choice of a man to rape a woman or a man, both actions are choices nonetheless and can be judged morally.

Grant Williams

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Grantsinmypants, are you saying that it's not immoral to be a homosexual, but that if you are homosexual, then it is immoral to act on your homosexual desires?

I think you missed the point of Tom Rexton's analogy. Eating and having sex does not inolve the coercion of someone else. But forcing someone to give you food or sex does of course. I don't believe this analogy applies to you though, unless you were saying what Rexton thought you were saying.

I think the confusion comes from the word homosexual itself. I think there needs to be a distinction made between being attracted to the same sex and having sex with the same sex. I got these two definitions from the Microsoft Encarta Dictionary.

Homosexual: somebody who is sexually attracted to members of his or her own sex.

Pedophile: an adult who has sexual desire for children or who has committed the crime of sex with a child.

There is a difference between wanting someones food and stealing someones food. There is a difference between wanting to hurt someone and actually hurting someone. There is a difference between being attracted to children and actively having sex with children. And there is a difference between being attracted to the same sex and having sex with the same sex.

So the question is this. Is it immoral to be attracted to children? Is it immoral to be attracted to the same sex? Is it immoral to want to hurt someone? Or is it only immoral to have sex with children, have sex with the same sex, and hurt people?

I think morals are about what is the right and wrong things to do. Not what is the right or wrong things to feel. I think one can feel wrong things, but be moral as long as they do the right things. Well not just do the right things, but do the right things because they want to do the right things.

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There is a difference between a homosexual acting on his homosexaul desires and a pedophile acting on their pedophile desires.

I think most people will agree that it is immoral to have sex with children, but not immoral to have sex with an adult man or women. So I'll base my arguememt on those morals.

Having sex with children is always wrong. It is wrong if you are a male or a female. And it is wrong if you are an adult or even a child yourself. But having sex with an adult man or women is not wrong. But some believe it is wrong if you are a man with a man or a women with a women.

You are saying that it's ok to have sex with a man or women as long as you are a different sex. You are saying that it's ok to have a sexual desire for a man or a women as long as you are a different sex. But it's never ok to have sex with a child, no matter what the circumstances. And so I don't believe that your analogy is a good one.

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You're probably getting sick of seeing my posts. Especially since this is my first time here. But those other two didn't count because I wasn't replying to the OP :)

What is a man? What makes a man, gender or sex, his brain or his dick? A human being can have a masculine gender, but a feminine sex or vise versa. A human being can also have an ovary and a testicle. There are male heterosexuals, females heterosexuals, hermaphrodites, male pseudohermaphrodites, female pseudohermaphrodites, male bisexuals, female bisexuals, male homosexuals, female homosexuals, male transsexuals, and female transsexuals. Sometimes the brain is pink and the body is blue. Sometimes the body has some pink (ovary) and some blue (testicle). Being a male and female isn't black and white. Not everyone posses every feature of a male or female, but a mix of both instead. Sometimes the mix is on the body and sometimes the mix is in the brain, and sometimes the mix is in both.

I bet if our brains were color coded, people would pay more attention to it. If you found out that your girlfriend had a blue brain, you would probably think she was a homosexual. But both our brains look pretty much the same to the naked eye. But they are different, the corpus callosum (connection between the two hemispheres) in female brains are larger than male brains and even larger in the brains of male homosexuals.

Transsexuals also have a different brain than homosexuals. A section of the hypothalamus called the BSTc is 50% larger among males than among females

regardless of whether they are homosexual or heterosexual. But among transsexual men, the BSTc is not only smaller on the average than other men's; it is also smaller

than women's.

If it's not right for someone to have sex with the same sex, then why should it be right for someone to have sex with the same gender? Should a girl be allowed to have sex with a male hair-stylist who is attracted to men just like her? If its not ok for people whose body looks the same to have sex with each other. Then should it not be ok for people whose brains look the same to have sex with each other? And what on earth is moral for a hermaphrodite to do? They have to choose wether to be a male or female. But they will never be one or the other, so should they just miss out on the family life and spend their life alone?

Just so you know, I got the research on sexuality from "The Owner's Manual for the Brain" book. And it has more if you're interested. And just to clear something up. A transsexual is someone who feels like they are a different sex, not necessarily someone who has gotten a sex change. Not all homosexual men for instance, feel like they are actually a women and not all of them want to be a women. Transexual men or more feminine than homosexual men.

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Guest Grantsinmypants

Nim, I'm glad you've chosen to base your arguments off of what's popularly accepted as moral, not what makes sense.

But now to the point:

What have I failed to make clear? All I demonstrated by using that analogy is that the desire to rape, the desire to molest a child, and the desire to view nude childrent are all sexual desires. They are sexual desires the same as the desire to have consensual sex with someone of the same gender, someone of the other gender, or both genders.

Homosexual, heterosexual, and bisexual desires are basic sexual desires. The desire to rape, molest children, or view nude children are more complicated, perverted forms of a person's basic sexual desire. How a person's sexual desire is manifested can either be innocent (ie: consensual) or perverted (ie: a crime) but is irrelevant to the observation I was making.

My only purpose in using the analogy was to show the absurd conclusions (letting rapist, child molestors, and child pornographers out of prison) if the premise that sexual desires were uncontrollable were widely accepted and consistently applied.

I included the analogy at the beginning of my original post only to demonstrate that sexual orientation is a choice because it was necessary to justify the subsequent discussion of ranking the various forms of consensual sex based on their pros and cons in order to determine which one, if any, is morally superior. This was the main purpose of my original post.

Get over it.

Grant Williams

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Guest Grantsinmypants

Nim, I just read your first and third posts. The post that I just put up was in response to your second post because that's the only one I saw for some reason.

I basically agree with your first point, you seemed to understand what I was saying with my analogy. You just think that sexual orientation isn't a choice, I do (which makes me wonder why you turned around and got confused again with your 2nd post). I have no idea what you're talking about in your third post.

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Guest Grantsinmypants

And let me be clear about what I think most of you think I don't realize:

I don't think that people can choose whether or not to have sexual desires, I just think that people can choose which sexual desires to have (And for the record, if I had to choose right now, I think that a heterosexual relationship, where the man is strickly a man and dresses like a man and where the woman is strictly a woman and dresses like a woman is the most preferable).

Grant Williams

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My third post is just my view on homosexuality, a reply to the OP. It isn't directed at anything you said.

I didn't realize that your analogy was trying to prove that we can choose who we are attracted too. I thought you were trying to say that if one thinks its ok for someone to be an active homosexual because they have no choice but to be attracted to men, then it is ok for someone to be an active pedophile if they have no choice but to be attracted to children. An analogy, that people have made before.

I don't believe though, that the premise that sexual desires are uncontrollable leads to the conclusion that we should let rapists out of jail. Fire doesn't have a choice either, but that won't stop firefighters from putting them out. We don't hurt the fire by putting it out though. While putting a rapist in jail will cause him anguish for acting on his uncontrollable sexual desires. But letting him out with cause some women anguish. Even if fire did feel pain, you wouldn't let it spread and cause other people pain just because it's in its nature to spread.

You said "If in fact, one's sexual orientation was beyond his control, then the specific types sexual desire that one fulfills by raping someone, molesting a kid, or looking at nude kids would be an integral part of their identity. If that's the case, then they should definitely not be punished for acting within their nature."

Just because its in their nature to want something, doesn't mean they can rightfully have it. Plus, putting people in prison isn't just for punishment, it's also for prevention and sometimes for help. You can also turn this around and say we should punish rapists because we have the natural desire to punish rapists and we're just acting on our nature.

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And let me be clear about what I think most of you think I don't realize:

I don't think that people can choose whether or not to have sexual desires, I just think that people can choose which sexual desires to have (And for the record, if I had to choose right now, I think that a heterosexual relationship, where the man is strickly a man and dresses like a man and where the woman is strictly a woman and dresses like a woman is the most preferable).

Grant Williams

Hey now, speak for yourself. You may be able to choose to like guys, but I sure can't. No more than I can choose to like green eggs and ham.

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Guest Grantsinmypants

I agree. That's why I've said time and time again that it's not in their nature to desire raping someone or molesting kids or stealing someone's food or having sex with someone of the same sex. It's a choice. Whether it was conciously arrived at or subconciously arrived at as the result of some previous, more fundamental choice. It's still a choice.

Are you forgetting that I wasn't advocating the premise that people were hopelessly susceptible to their desires? I was taking it to it's logical conclusion.

Because they're not hopelessly susceptible to their desires, they have the choice to not only act or not act upon those desires, but also to create, destroy, or alter the desires themselves.

Grant Williams

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You say that since they are "not hopelessly susceptible to their desires" that they "have the choice to not only act or not act upon those desires, but also to create, destroy, and alter the desires themslelves".

How exactly did you come to that conclusion? Why can they change what they desire just because they have a choice to not indulge those desires? Not doing something you want to do, and completely destroying your desire to want to do something, are two completely different thing. Just because you can choose to not break into a girls house and rape her doesn't mean you can also choose not to want to in the first place. Actions taken and desires felt are very different. I am not hopelessly susceptible to the desire for chocolate milk, I can choose to drink or not drink it. But how does that suggest that I can also create, destroy, and alter my desires for chocolate milk?

Btw: Can you really create a desire for men if you choose? Are you being completely serious about that? :blink:

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Guest Grantsinmypants
It's a choice. Whether it was conciously arrived at or subconciously arrived at as the result of some previous, more fundamental choice. It's still a choice.

You completely ignored that statement.

That's a psychological issue that I'd rather not get into.

I suggest books by Nathaniel Branden to help you gain the concepts to understand where I'm coming from.

Your BTW question is interesting though... I don't think you can create that desire only because it seems like it would require a high-degree of rational thought and a deep understanding of psychology to be able to change deep-seated sexual desires. And it seems to me that the more rational and the knowledgable of human sexual psychology one becomes, they will start to desire a heterosexual lifestyle simply because it's a more rational, reality-oriented, rewarding lifestyle.

Then again, I could be wrong.

Grant Williams

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