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Book Review: Being Homosexual: Gay Men and Their Development by Richard A. Isay, M.D.

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Men who are sexually attracted to their own gender have been discriminated against long enough. Being Homosexual is a doctor/therapist’s attempt to lift the tremendous weight of that enduring injustice.

According to Dr. Isay, homosexuals are in every way normal people, normal men, who have all the feelings, hopes, sorrows, loves, desires, as every other person on our planet. Because of the desire for same sex couplings, a gay person must not be looked upon any differently than a person who desires to become a sculptor while another may choose to paint, play a musical instrument, or become a banker, or an athlete. 

The tendency to exhibit heterosexual or homosexual behavior is innate, just as any other trait or predisposition. And herein lays the issue.

For generations, homosexuality has been thought of as the result of: 1) too much mothering or a domineering mother, 2) too much fathering, or an insufficient father image, 3) playing with girls as a child, 4) not playing with enough boys, 5) an insufficiency of the male hormone, 6) fear of women, 7) lack of self control, 8) giving into sinful temptation. The list could go on and on.

After years of counseling both heterosexual and homosexual men, in Being Homosexual, Dr. Isay provides much clinical insight. While a gay man may exhibit one or more of the tendencies listed above, the observed trait did not cause his homosexuality. Simply put, the man was born gay.

The psychic damage done to the personality of a homosexual man because of continuing societal attitudes, easily explains why numerous gay men seek psychological counseling.

Dr. Isay reports that he counsels men who hide their sexuality, often through traditional marriages, to prove to the world and to themselves that they are not abnormal. One can only imagine what years of denial and loathing can do to a person’s self image who accepts and believes society’s interpretation of normalcy.

Then too, Being Homosexual talks of those men who accept their male erotic preferences. The sad fact is that, psychologically, these men feel they are weird, queer, fag, abnormal, unbalanced, or in someway freaks of nature — even sinful. Dr. Isay discusses how he has led many of his clients to believe differently. But it takes many counseling sessions, sometimes several years of psychotherapy, before these gay men believe that their preferences are N-O-R-M-A-L for them—to hell with ongoing masculine norms often set by biblical beliefs.

Dr. Isay discusses relationships between men. He gives clinical examples showing how he helped homosexuals accept themselves as normal whether they seek a casual erotic overnight encounter, or a much longer bonding which can last for weeks, months, or even years.

Personally I know two gay men who have been awarded permanent custody of one small boy, and are battling the courts to keep a second child. Thankfully, the issue of custody is not a question of either male caretaker’s sexuality. It is a problem with normal parents who have no desire to raise their son, but who are unwilling to consent to permanent adoption.   

This short review has barely skimmed the surface of the remarkable insight an individual can gain by reading Being Homosexual. The book is a resource filled with success stories for mentally troubled men. For those tormented with identity and self-esteem problems, just reading about other normal gay males with similar feelings of self-worth can help relieve stress and start a healing process.

  The book will be extremely helpful for those men and women genuinely seeking to understand the developmental problems of homosexual boys growing into adulthood. Carrying enlightened information via attitude and conversational exchange into the home, the neighborhood, the community, and the church, one educated person can do much to lift the tortuous burden our society still places on homosexuality.

About Regis Schilken

  • Dylan

    Thank you, Regis! This book truly is amazing and you are the reason I read it.