Early Sexual Confusion in 1) a Neighbor, 2) a Midshipman and 3) a Scientist

John C. Rankin

[excerpted and adapted from First the Gospel, Then Politics …, 1999, Vol. 2, not published]

There are many homosexual persons who truly believe they were born that way, and the reason they believe so is due to pre-cognizant identity questions. They always “felt” different, and when sexual issues came to play as adolescents, and sometimes years later, they assigned their homosexuality to “genetic” causes.

I believe this is not the case, as there are so many subjective elements involved. But my goal here is not to win a debating point. It is to minister the Good News that homosexuals can change, and to help in this process, we need to respect these identity issues and the real and painful struggles many homosexual persons go through.

When I was six years old, I had a neighbor named Paul, about my age. We played at each other’s houses on occasion, and at some point I became aware of his fascination with girl’s clothes. He would dress up in them, and always dress as a girl on Halloween. Once, maybe two or three years later, another boy on the street had a birthday party, and he promised there would be “no girls.” When I arrived, and saw the ten or twelve boys there, I also saw a girl in her party dress. I said to my friend, “I thought you said no girls.” He said to me, knowingly, and as other boys listened in, “Oh, that’s just Paul.”

Why did Paul dress as a girl from such a young age at every possible opportunity? This strikes me as a pre-cognizant identity – a view of himself he had from before he was aware of making conscious identity choices. In his case, I have no idea why, as it is many decades past.

What was in his pre-cognizant identity where he wanted to dress like a girl? Being a homosexual and being a transvestite (“cross-dresser”) do interface – most transvestites are homosexual, but most homosexuals are not transvestites. It is my observation that transvestites are men who, for whatever reason, cannot emotionally trust women in intimate capacities. And out of their need for the feminine in their lives, instead of loving a woman, they become their own women. It is a confusion of male and female, and it has its roots somewhere, most likely and most often I believe, in the lack of a proper male and female role model in the parents.

In the 1990s I addressed a high school class in concert with a man who had been kicked out of the U.S. Navy for being homosexual. It was in the news, but I did not know of, nor did I ask about the details.

In his remarks, he said that he was raised by the most loving parents possible, and thus his homosexuality had to be genetic in origin. I had no reason to doubt the testimony about his parents – he spoke of them fondly. But afterward as we chatted in the parking lot, and as he turned to leave, I was struck by his intense loneliness, a spirit that overwhelmed as I stood there. Such loneliness has to come from somewhere, spiritually and sociologically, not genetically.

In another case, I know a woman who always thought she was a tomboy, and thus ex post facto, a lesbian. She seeks to understand the God of the Bible, but feels she never had a choice in the matter. She does not see scientific evidence for a genetically predetermined homosexuality, and she is in an Ivy League scientific world. When speaking with her and her lesbian partner, the partner made an observation. Namely, is it possible that she had intrauterine experiences that conditioned her very soul to be in a defensive mode against the male voice and presence? And thus, the tomboy instinct? As the woman thus reflected on her experience, she thought this was a real possibility …

Addendum: In one forum at Yale, a homosexual student was challenging me, and in the process admitted a painful family upbringing. I then asked him if he would have rather grown up with “a loving mommy and daddy,” to which he said yes, and with deep emotion in his soul. Later a friend said to me, “John, I can’t believe you got away with such a question to him in a place like Yale.” Yet, when we pose such childlike questions, the soul is freer to open up. And I have posed this same question to homosexuals and audiences in various places, such as Boston University and at the Unitarian Church in Portland, Maine. No one answers “no.”