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being homosexual indicated a very strong heterosexual

impulse being checked subconsciously. In my view

today, they indicated a very strong socially-conditioned

dread of being gay, combined with certain patterns–

such as the tendency to be attracted only to straight

men-which were related to the inability to think of

myself as gay and which created impossible (and, I

would now add, unnecessary) conflicts between my

sexual impulses and my need for ordinary friendship.

(Only in the last year has this conflict become unneces–

sary: until now, gay people have either had to repress

their gay nature while with straight friends, or to make

their entire social life among gay people. I wonder how

many psychotherapists, exploring this conflict with

thousands of gay patients, have tried to expose the

socially-conditioned

nature of this conflict.)

In short,

psychotherapy could not help me to understand my

situation because it did not- and given its theoretical

basis, could not-encourage me to think ofmy conflicts

as resulting from being goy {and unsure about it} in

particular social conditions.

In more than five years of on-and-off psychother-

apy, none of my therapists ever voiced so much as a

suggestion that the pain, loneliness, self-doubt and

self-destructive feelings which so many homosexuals

experience was a

social

problem; that psychological

symptoms experienced by so many individuals might

stem from a common social situation. Today, this

seems to me, if not self-evident, at least more plaus-

ible than the psychiatrists' contrasting view that the

symptoms reflect a universal psychology of homosexuality–

on whose features none of them can agree.

But I had to figure this out for myself.

How did I come to do so? Although therapy did

help me to understand many side issues, my understanding

of being gay comes from social movements. My first

step toward health - oh yes, I was sick: I was unable to

view myself as I was- came when I was 22, in my determina–

tion to find love where I could. This step of

simple human survival, never suggested by any of my

therapists, left me still viewing myself as an inferior

creature. The first suggestion that homosexuals were

unhappy not because we were sick but because we were

oppressed, came from a friend, who

not

coincidentally

was a revolutionary socialist, who influenced me as I

got deeply into the student radical movement at the late

and lucky age of 25.

My first real understanding of my oppression,

however, came from the women's liberation movement. Some

of my political acquaintances were very active in

it. The movement's critique of the social stigmas

attached to being a woman, of the myths of female per–

sonality type and the role of psychoanalytic theory in

perpetuating those myths, of the role of social factors

in producing the

real

personality disfigurations

women suffered-and most of all, the critique of the

psychoanalytic treatment of all this as personal neurosis

demanding personal therapy rather than as social oppression

demanding a collective struggle-all this gave me my

first real understanding of myself.

Further, my fear and dislike of women, which my

therapists and I had spent much time discussing, began to

change as I saw- from the movement, not from my

therapists-that women were not to be related to

56

primarily sexually, something I had always felt unable

to do. Simultaneously I began seeing women and myself

as human beings.

Finally gay liberation... but it shouldn't be

necessary to describe how

this

changed my view of

myself. It did, however, change the direction and content

of my life.

My break with psychotherapy came gradually.

Women's liberation made me take seriously the critique

of psychoanalytic theory as regards women, but this

was tangential to my own therapy. Very late, relations

with my therapist became strained when, discussing my

mother and her ambitions for me, he referred to her using

me as "her penis." I saw that what women's

liberationists had been saying was true: my mother's

ambitious and successful life, in which she had always

had to struggle against the limits placed on her as a

woman, was to my therapist a manifestation of the

desire for a penis rather than a rebellion against

constraints which warred against her great abilities.

Had it not been for the women's movement, I might have

accepted this "analysis"- and found a new, apparently

objective way to despise my mother, rather than coming

to understand her.

Instead, I asked myself how this therapy, which

regarded women so barbarically, regarded me. And I

asked my therapist. His reply, which covered several

sessions and touched on both women and homosexuals,

was roughly that homosexuality could be regarded as a

pathology (and heterosexuality could not) because in

this society the family with male occupying a dominant

role, female a subordinate role, and the child's identi–

fication

with the roles

of the parent of the same sex,

was the dominant pattern (he said "norm"). We agreed

that in terms of this pattern both an "aggressive" woman,

such as my mother, and a homosexual child were deviant

cases.

We differed in that he insisted that this deviance

be viewed simply in terms of its psychic determinants, a

position which I maintained, and he denied, was equi–

valent to refusing to seriously question the psychic

costs ofthe dominant pattern, refusing to ask whether

alternative patterns might rationally be preferred, and

refusing to consider whether a

social

struggle, which

might make alternatives possible, was a possible solution

to "personal" problems.

I insisted that if no positive value were placed

on the dominant pattern, then the deviant manifestation had

to be viewed not as a psychopathology, but as a mani–

festation of a pattern which might, in the absence of

social pressures, be as fulfilling or more fulfilling than

the dominant one, but which was socially disapproved.

Thus a woman or a homosexual should be encouraged to

see social norms as

part of his or her "problem."

This my therapist denied.

In the midst of this argument, I travelled to another

city. Since I was now active in Gay Liberation, I asked

the person I was visiting to ask whether a Gay Liberation

group existed there. None did, but as a result of

his queries, I was telephoned at his house by a man

who said he was gay. He asked about Gay Liberation, but

refused to come see us. He also refused to give his last

name, but he told me his profession-psychologist.

It was clear to me that a profession whose homo–

sexual members had to conceal themselves could not

motive