Who’s a Heretic? 10 Common Misconceptions about Gay People, Part 2

My partner and I are very fortunate to have loving, supportive families and friends. But there are a lot of people out there who have some pretty outlandish ideas about who we are based solely on the fact that we are gay. So I thought I would try to clear some of these up. Here’s part two of my list of just a few of the myths and misapprehensions about gay people.

4- Being gay is a mental illness.– Almost 500 years ago, in 1543 (the year of his death), Nicolaus Copernicus did something no one had ever done before.

Picture of a small orrery
Picture of a small orrery – a mechanical device
 that shows the workings of a solar system based
 on a heliocentric model (via Wikipedia)

He presented the world with an astronomical model which placed the sun, not the earth as commonly believed, at the center of the universe. Heliocentrism was not a new idea but no one before had come up with a mathematical model that worked – that actually predicted the motions of the planets in the night sky. Copernicus’ did. Mostly.

There was one missing piece which Johannes Kepler provided the following century when he figured out the elliptical nature of the planet’s orbits and expanded on the Copernican model. Kepler’s contemporary, Galileo, now known as the “father of observational astronomy,” championed the improved Copernican model. As a result, in 1633, the Roman Inquisition put him on trial for heresy, forced him to recant his views, and placed him under house arrest for the rest of his life.

Uncensored versions of Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus orbium coelestium and Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems remained on the church’s Index of Forbidden Books until 1835. For 200 years, the immensely powerful church devoted its resources to preventing people from learning the truth. It wasn’t until 2000, almost 400 years after the trial of Galileo that the Church admitted any wrong-doing when Pope John Paul II issued a kind of general apology for all the wrongs of the church over its 2,000- year existence including Galileo’s persecution.

Like the Catholic Church, some people just don’t like to admit when they’re wrong even in the face of overwhelming evidence. And that’s why I think that this misguided notion that being gay is a mental illness is still out there, even though it has no basis in reality. Fortunately, the kind of control the Catholic Church had over information during the Renaissance is now impossible, because now we have the internet. Anywhere people can get to a computer with internet access, they can swim oceans of digitized information. In the U.S., even if you can’t afford a computer, anyone can go to a public library and get online. And you can read things like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

The APA removed homosexuality from the DSM almost 40 years ago in 1973. One disorder that remains in the DSM is the source of some confusion. Gender Identity disorder (GID) is a diagnosis used to describe people who are discontent with their biological gender and/or the gender they were assigned at birth.

I believe the feelings transgendered individuals experience are legitimate and that they should have the right to live as they please and do with their bodies as they see fit, but this is a separate issue from homosexuality. Being gay has nothing to do with wanting to change your gender. As I wrote in part one, I am a lesbian because I love women, not because I want to be a man.

via zazzle.com

The stance of the APA today is that homosexuality is a normal variant of sexual behavior. If you go to the APA’s website, you can read this: “Lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations are not disorders. Research has found no inherent association between any of these sexual orientations and psychopathology. Both heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality.” Yes, you read that correctly. It said “normal.” The APA also asserts to need to remove “the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations.”

Stay tuned for part 3 of “10 Common Lies Misconceptions about Gay People

Leave a comment


  1. another great blog

  2. Hey, I just happened to catch this by chance and will go back and read part 1, as I have missed it. Great work and just a little something to add…there have been over 500 species in the animal kingdom who have been identified as being homosexual or “showing homosexual behaviors.” I’d like to see how people explain their mental health. Ha-ha! I am looking forward to part 3!

  3. Cindy-I was interested in your comment on “other species” having “homosexual” behaviors. I once had a beautiful black cat-long haired- whose mom belonged to me. The mom died and my friend’s mother cat nursed the two kittens she had left. My friend told me the “long haired one” was a girl and the short haired one was a boy-i never explored. When it was grown, this cat would babysit the other cats’ kittens, never tried to mate with females, etc-I always assumed it was a girl, as my friend had told me. Then a sad day came when I had to find a new home for some of my cats, and knowing how pretty this cat was, i agreed to let a friend of my dad’s adopt this cat. Turns out she had hoped to breed my “female”, but on inspection declared that “she” had balls the size of huge marbles! The lady kept him anyway..I’m sure that cat was “gay” or perhaps just asexual-It was nice to see that someone had looked into this topic-see-you are what you are-human, feline, whatever!

  4. As someone with bipolar disorder, I’m especially grateful for your addressing this one. To think that homosexuality was still in the DSM until I was 11 years old. Thank God for that reversal.

    • Scary, huh? Doesn’t stop Michele Bachman from telling people we are all sad victims of Satan and should be pitied because we have sexual identity disorders. (I guess she couldn’t decide between damnation and mental illness so she went for the double whammy.) But yes, it’s a relief that at least the psychiatrists realized we’re not mentally ill.

  5. Another great one, can’t wait till the next in the series….

  6. Normal? I don’t think there’s any such thing! Just be true to yourself.

    • I agree! It’s a relative term. In this case, it’s a word to throw back at the ignorant who still insist on calling us “deviants.” I struggled with it for a few years when I was younger, after I first came out, but I’m pretty happy with who I am now. Thanks for the support!


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