These gay debates do have their quirky little bits, don’t they? There’s one I have a hard time understanding and, if anyone can explain it, it’s this crowd.
Is a person solely attracted to men and who is also a man dealing with 'Same Sex Attraction' and/or is he a 'homosexual' or 'gay'? Why does it matter?
First, I do understand ‘gay’ can mean to some that a same-sex relationship is occurring, though it doesn't to my mind. I also understand there are reasons of faith for which that word may be rejected for something that sounds more clinical, like a medical condition. I’m wondering more about nouns vs adjectives:
From the recent interview with Elder Oaks and Wickman of the LDS church (my bold):
“I think it’s important for you [a hypothetical gay child] to understand that homosexuality, which you’ve spoken of, is not a noun that describes a condition. It’s an adjective that describes feelings or behavior.”
Or from the LDS web site, here:
“We should note that the words homosexual, lesbian, and gay are adjectives to describe particular thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. We should refrain from using these words as nouns to identify particular conditions or specific persons. Our religious doctrine dictates this usage. It is wrong to use these words to denote a condition, because this implies that a person is consigned by birth to a circumstance in which he or she has no choice in respect to the critically important matter of sexual behavior.”
I see a couple mohos who are "wrong" in this regard ;-). Anyway, how one can decree such a word to be only an adjective by doctrine seems kind of surprising, but, that aside, I’ve a hard time understanding why anyone would attempt this at all? Even going with the LDS view of homosexuality, why shouldn’t we have a name for people struggling with “SSA”?
The dictionaries I have certainly do not agree with the above statements, but it’s stranger than that. Take, say, the word “Dentist”. It’s a noun referring to a condition of a person, one who practices dentistry, but it in no way implies that a person is “consigned by birth to a circumstance in which he or she has no choice in respect to the critically important matter of behavior”, right? The same goes with the word “southpaw”, or “diabetic”? In fact, there is less evidence that being left-handed is consigned from birth than there is for homosexuality (detailed here, here, and here). Southpaws choose their behavior, but, also like gays, not how it feels. Regardless, they still get a noun, right?
I also thought maybe it’s just because they see being gay as a negative and that somehow makes us not want to have a noun for it (why? I don’t know). But then we do have nouns for murderers and kleptomaniacs, and I’ve never heard the LDS church advise against using other such nouns.
So what’s the deal here?
That aside, my take: I think this whole area of classifying gays had been tainted by old prejudice long before even the term “homosexual” was coined (1892, according to my dictionary of etymology). Gay people aren’t precisely attracted to their same sex. They are people attracted to a particular sex, regardless of their own sex, just like most everyone else in the world, and their feelings of attraction are far from abnormal in humans. They are quite ordinary.
The rare part is that attraction in the mind to a particular sex is found in that particular physical anatomy; it takes both that aspect of the mind and the shape of the body to be called gay. But if one altered the physical body of a gay man and left his mind intact, say, by the supernatural or super science, he’d not suddenly become a lesbian (No offence my lesbian friends, but I don’t understand ya ;-)); he’d still be attracted to men. His mind, the person a gay man is psychologically, is an androphile, juts like most women. His material body is another matter.
Even the term homosexual (as a noun), I think, somewhat allows the commonness of the attraction to be concealed behind the material, so as those experiencing it may more easily be ill treated. Otherwise how can you both promote and punish the consequences of the attraction at the same time, and not appear to be inconstant and harsh to people for the geometry of their inborn anatomy? It’s just much easier to vilify “homosexuals”, than “androphiles who are shaped in a certain way” :-).