Featured: Top of Home Page

A Cure for What Ails You

Thanks to modern psychology, you can now be trained to accept or reject homosexuality – yours or others -- depending on your interpretation of what's needed.

One of these days you're gonna love me

You'll sit down by yourself and think

About the times you pushed and shoved me

And what good friends we might have been

And then you're gonna sigh a little

And maybe even cry a little

But one of these days you're gonna love me

-- "One of These Days", Tim McGraw

Like many, Tim McGraw's song of personal redemption and forgiveness is open to interpretation. Some will hear the tale of a man examining his youthful deeds of cruelty -- picking on the neighborhood nerd, abandoning his high school sweetheart -- and deduce that the song is a plea for compassion and empathy. Others, however, will point to the spiritual awakening the singer experiences while in church, as evidenced that the song is about the power of religion in washing our past sins away.

A parallel split of opinions is occurring in psychiatric claims involving the LGBT community. To many, modern psychology and social work is responsible for the tool that will herald in a new era of understanding of diversity issues: sensitivity training. Like the protagonist of McGraw's song, one can find redemption and new awareness through reflection upon one's past transgressions.

However, others advocate psychology and religion as the means to overcome temptation: reparative therapy. Here, the thought is that an epiphany, often the result of embracing religion, results in a change of behavior; one can quit the lifestyle he or she has adopted. Both approaches claim success, and certainly, there are converts ready to step forward to testify how they have been changed by these methods.

There are also those ready to step forward and claim the two methods are shams. The truth lies in one of the basic tenants of PSYCH 101: that a patient can only be helped when he or she wants to be helped. Those actively resistant to treatment won't benefit. Unfortunately, there are many involved in these therapies who have no desire to be there, finding themselves attending due to company policy, parental mandate, or judicial order.

Recently, I was required to attend sensitivity training about the GLBT community in order to participate in my university's Safe Zone Program. (The Safe Zone Program is a growing outreach program on college campuses, in which faculty and staff identify their offices as "safe zones" where students can discuss sexual orientation matters without judgment.) I don’t mind attending the training, and it was an excellent presentation, but really…I'm a gay man who writes a column on gay culture and issues. I've spoken at several conferences on diversity. I've been with my partner for 14 years. And my partner and I have experienced discrimination, both societal and institutional. How much more sensitive do these people think I can be?

In fact, most of the people in attendance were pretty sensitive. Some were gay or lesbian, but most had friends or relatives who are gay. Still others were just sympathetic to the problems GLBT students face. One colleague and friend, a mother of two straight sons, cried while she listened to gay and lesbian students describe their experiences on campus. "It just hurts me," she told me, "to think that someone would treat my boys that way." Like I said, sensitive.

While those attending the training undoubtedly learned about the prejudice LGBT individuals face, it's doubtful anyone had a life-altering experience, choosing to throw away a history of bigotry for a life of inclusion and acceptance. Yet, there are those who are sent to sensitivity training for just that purpose. A recent episode of Penn and Teller: Bullshit! featured former pro ball player John Rocker, who was ordered to attend sensitivity training after complaining in the press about riding the subway with "queens with AIDS", among other undesirables. Rocker left midway through the first of what were to be many sessions and never went back.

Rocker exemplifies those who attend training under duress. These individuals often have the prospect of unemployment or a prison term waiting should they fail to attend. Resentment about being forced to attend and a resistance towards the message of the presentation makes it highly unlikely that significant changes in attitude will occur. It's like attending traffic school to get out of paying the ticket…how many of us significantly change our driving behavior because we saw the scary drivers ed movie? We may in the short term, but soon old patterns emerge until such time that we are ready to make a lifelong commitment to change.

Where sensitivity training fails most significantly is in teaching realistic methods for dealing with a bigoted environment. Even if the gay-basher or Klan member should have an epiphany, he or she will still have to return to a household, social circle, and possibly even neighborhood filled with those who share his or her old attitudes. Peer pressure and psychological reinforcement of prejudicial stereotypes by peers will most likely result in a return to the previous known behaviors, only there may be a twinge of guilt when beating the crap out of a queer in an alley.

Next Page

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

PM Picks Playlist 4: Stellie, The Brooks, Maude La​tour

Today's playlist features the premiere of Stellie's "Colours", some top-class funk from the Brooks, Berne's eco-conscious electropop, clever indie-pop from Maude Latour, Jaguar Jonze rocking the mic, and Meresha's "alien pop".

Culture

Plattetopia: The Prefabrication of Utopia in East Berlin

With the fall of the Berlin Wall came the licence to take a wrecking ball to its nightmare of repression. But there began the unwritten violence of Die Wende, the peaceful revolution that hides the Oedipal violence of one order killing another.

Music

Electrosoul's Flõstate Find "Home Ground" on Stunning Song (premiere)

Flõstate are an electrosoul duo comprised of producer MKSTN and singer-songwriter Avery Florence that create a mesmerizing downtempo number with "Home Ground".

Music

Orchestra Baobab Celebrate 50 Years with Vinyl of '​Specialist in All Styles'

As Orchestra Baobab turn 50, their comeback album Specialist in All Styles gets a vinyl reissue.

Music

Hot Chip Stay Up for 'Late Night Tales'

Hot Chip's contribution to the perennial compilation project Late Night Tales is a mixed bag, but its high points are consistent with the band's excellence.

Music

The Budos Band Call for Action on "The Wrangler" (premiere)

The Budos Band call on their fans for action with the powerful new track "The Wrangler" that falls somewhere between '60s spy thriller soundtrack and '70s Ethiojazz.

Music

Creature Comfort's "Woke Up Drunk" Ruminates on Our Second-Guesses (premiere)

A deep reflection on breaking up, Nashville indie rock/Americana outfit Creature Comfort's "Woke Up Drunk" is the most personal track from their new album, Home Team.

Books

For Don DeLillo, 'The Silence' Is Deafening

In Don DeLillo's latest novel, The Silence, it is much like our post-pandemic life -- everything changed but nothing happened. Are we listening?

Music

Brett Newski Plays Slacker Prankster on "What Are You Smoking?" (premiere)

Is social distancing something we've been doing, unwittingly, all along? Brett Newski pulls some pranks, raises some questions in "What Are You Smoking?".

Music

Becky Warren Shares "Good Luck" and Discusses Music and Depression (premiere + interview)

Becky Warren finds slivers of humor while addressing depression for the third time in as many solo concept albums, but now the daring artist is turning the focus on herself in a fight against a frightful foe.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Fleet Foxes Take a Trip to the 'Shore'

On Shore, Fleet Foxes consist mostly of founding member Robin Pecknold. Recording with a band in the age of COVID-19 can be difficult. It was just time to make this record this way.

Books

'We're Not Here to Entertain' Is Not Here to Break the Cycle of Punk's Failures

Even as it irritates me, Kevin Mattson's We're Not Here to Entertain is worth reading because it has so much direct relevance to American punks operating today.

Film

Uncensored 'Native Son' (1951) Is True to Richard Wright's Work

Compared to the two film versions of Native Son in more recent times, the 1951 version more acutely captures the race-driven existential dread at the heart of Richard Wright's masterwork.

Music

3 Pairs of Boots Celebrate Wandering on "Everywhere I Go" (premiere)

3 Pairs of Boots are releasing Long Rider in January 2021. The record demonstrates the pair's unmistakable chemistry and honing of their Americana-driven sound, as evidenced by the single, "Everywhere I Go".

Books

'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.

Music

Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".

Music

PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.