Alan Osmond, the eldest of the singing Osmond brothers, has a messed-up Website called www.thefamily.com in which he and some of his associates blog about various issues he feels are important, including reparative “therapy” or colloquially known as “ex-gay.”
Now, Osmond is an apparently an expert on sexual orientation, and maintains that homosexuality is “treatable.” This is in line with Osmond’s famed faith with Mormonism and his more-famous brother, Donny, has also came out referring to homosexuality as a sin (though Donny Osmond has gone to great pains to insist he has gay friends. With friends like these, huh?).
Another interesting twist is Osmond’s more-famous sister, Marie, has a daughter who’s gay. I wonder how Thanksgiving will go down this year when Osmond’s niece and her girlfriend sit at the dinner table and ask Uncle Alan to pass the gravy (I imagine it not going very well).
Ignoring the fact that all major psychological bodies have rejected the concept of “homosexuality as illness” Osmond insists that different factors – none conclusively biological or genetic – contribute to homosexuality. According to Osmond’s “research” these factors include, “temperament, personality traits, sexual abuse, family factors and treatment by one’s peers.”
I will meet Osmond half-way just to show him that I’m not a hostile opponent: other factors may cause someone to be gay (although he lost me with the whole “sexual abuse” thing which is the most tired cliché in the world – I mean, really, are we still trotting that old 70’s claim that sexual abuse causes homosexuality). But my question to Osmond’s claim is: so what? Even if homosexuality is a behavioral trait that is developed through factors including personality, family, environment, etc – so what? Being an introvert, or being particularly gregarious, or being shy, or being altruistic – these are all behavioral traits that result for a variety of factors – should we examine and try to “repair” these traits?
Well, that’s where the crux of Osmond’s argument sits: homosexuality is a sin and disordered – to him, homosexuality is seemingly akin to other undesirable traits like alcoholism, bad temper, crippling shyness, etc. And where does he get support for his argument? You guessed it, the Bible (or the Mormon Bible, not really sure how that works…)
So, it all boils down to religion again – Osmond, in his attempt to marry social science with superstition again fails to convince simply because the two can’t marry. Now, I’m not saying that good sociologists can’t be religious or spiritual, but for them to be successful a certain “distance” between their work and their faith has to be maintained – it’s true for all professions. A doctor can be a fundamentalist Christian, but when she’s performing surgery, she has to rely on medicine and science and not stop everything to “pray the injury away.”
Before writing this post, I felt a bit guilty because, well, Alan Osmond is a pretty easy target. Not known for his intellectual prowess (though he may be a closet genius, I dunno…), not even all that known for his musical prowess anymore, he is just simply trading in the whole anti-gay movement, now really desperate because of all the progress the LGBT movement is making (sorry, Mr. Osmond, but we’re not done, yet). So, I felt a little bad, a bit like a bully, picking on this b-list celebrity sibling who wants to seem important.
But I find his work offensive. Not only because his blog post is really fucked up in that it’s written in all kinds of crazy font, sizes and colors, making it look like the blog post equivalent of a ransom note. I find his work offensive because I’m getting tired of these pious homophobes who pretend they discriminate because they “love” us. I prefer my bigots proudly hateful because at least then I know what I’m dealing with; in Osmond’s case, he wraps his bigotry in Christian love, and I end up looking like a churl because I take issue. And I hate that. Because underneath all this smiling, “Jesus loves you if you repent” nonsense is a nefarious core that can be traced to Prop 8, the opposition to ENDA, the support of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, DOMA and countless other legislation that inhibits gay equality (much of it justified by outdated and out-of-place religious idolatry).
It’s funny because I go back to Marie Osmond and her gay daughter. If the Osmonds are as tight-knit as they like to have us believe, then I wonder who Alan Osmond can blather on like this when he has a gay niece (and judging from the sheer size of the Osmond klan, there’s gotta be some more in there). That’s the part that scares me a bit – a lot of LGBT rights activists say that if someone knows and loves someone who is gay, then it’s more difficult for that individual to harbor anti-LGBT feelings. In Osmond’s case, it’s pretty obvious that even if he does love his niece (which I’ll assume he does), he still feels that she’s somehow broken. If we can’t get our family and friends to have our backs, just think how hard it is for us to reach out to strangers.