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1959 Revolutionary thinking about homosexuality August 29, 2009

Posted by Geekgirl in Commentary, Health, Historical Views, LGBT, medical, psychology, sexual orientation.
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The purpose of this blog is to publish the latest research on LGBT issues. However, today we go back 50 years in time. I came across an article submitted by a physician in 1959 to Lancet, a still prestigious British Medical Journal. That’s right. 1959. I found the article to be remarkably profound, prophetic and well reasoned.  Now, he does come to the conclusion that he does not believe that heredity nor genetics is involved. I remind you, in 1959, very little was known about genetics or heredity. One’s conclusions can only come from the information available. So let’s forgive him on this point, ok?

The author is anonymous, as one might expect in that era. And yet, he sees even beyond where we are now, 50 years later. While I believe the whole article is worthy of reading (grab a cup of tea), I’ve highlighted my favorite sections. But who knows, there may be other sections that speak to you.

One thing is certain. Speaking up has made a difference. LGBT or Straight, we are all capable of, and responsible for, speaking up for equality and an end to discrimination, misconceptions and lies.

The Lancet

Publication date  December 12, 1959

Conferences and Special Articles




A TRUE picture of male homosexuality in the community cannot be given if-as in most medical publications-it is based on material drawn only from psychiatric practice, prisons, mental hospitals, and venereal-disease clinics. So long as the only doctors who write on this subject are heterosexual, so long as public opinion is based unemotional prejudice, so long as the law makes it dangerous for the homosexual himself to express an opinion, the present profound ignorance of the subject-both inside and outside the medical profession-will continue. As a general practitioner and a homosexual, I have over the past thirty years discussed the subject intimately in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and confidence with several hundred homosexual men of many nationalities, colours, cultures, and creeds. The following case histories provide, I believe, a typical cross-section of male homosexuality in the community.


Cases 1 and 2

.-In 1935 A was a contented married man of about 40 with two children. About this time he introduced into his business, with a view to future partnership, a man  B,aged about 25, with capital to invest. B was homosexual and knew it. A bond of friendship, then affection, grew between A and B which later led to overt homosexual practices. A’s marriage disintegrated and his wife and family went to live abroad. After some five years of cohabitation A and B separated amicably, and they are still close friends.

A tells me that he had no suspicion that he was homosexually inclined until he met B. He had been reasonably happy. His marital obligations had been fulfilled adequately, but he had realised that sexual intercourse interested him less than it seemed to interest most of his friends and he had supposed that he was ” made that way “. Since the break-up of his marriage A has led an exclusively homosexual life with no further interest in heterosexual activity. He is now chairman of a big company, a member of many committees, a prominent and respected figure in the community.

B, a man of considerable private means and strong religious convictions, is a bachelor. A practising homosexual who disapproves of promiscuity, he lives discreetly and unostentatiously with a friend of many years’ standing in a community where he is respected by all. He takes no part in public life but some of his friends-like myself-know of his kindness and generosity to many people, mostly elderly and infirm men and women, a considerable number of whom he has supported for many years.

Case 3.

-C is a senior captain in an airline. Now in his late 30s he is good-looking, virile, and self-confident, with a well integrated emotionally stable personality. His sexual outlet in orgasms has always been high and still averages 5 to 6 per week. His sexual activity has always been predominantly, but not exclusively, homosexual. About six years ago, for a variety of motives (not all admirable) he married, and he now has family. The marriage has been successful, and he is very fond of both his wife and the children. His work takes him away from home for about two weeks in every four. During these absences (but not while he is at home) he still leads a homosexual life. But he is worried. ” What is going to happen when I stop flying and have to remain at home all the time ? I don’t think I could ever be exclusively heterosexual.”

Cases 4 and 5.

-D is a middle-aged doctor, a bachelor, successful and respected. He came from an emotionally secure home, had a happy childhood, has brothers and sisters, attended a boarding-school, and was never seduced by an older person. As a medical student he enjoyed the companionship of women and dancing. At the age of 21 he became engaged to a young woman whom he admired and of whom he was very fond. Intercourse took place often, but, though he was potent, he found it lacking in emotional and physical satisfaction. Finally the engagement was broken off because” the ritual of heterosexual intercourse ” became increasingly distasteful to him and because he realised that the marriage, if it took place, would certainly end unhappily. He is sure that his fiancé never suspected the real reason for the break. At the age of 30 he met E, aged 19, who was illegitimate, had had an unhappy childhood, and believed himself to be homosexual. They lived together for twelve years in mutual affection, respect, and happiness. D was able to bring educational and material advantages to E who now holds a responsible executive position in business. When E was 31 he fell in love with a girl whom he wished to marry. They have now been happily married for about eight years and have three children. D remains the closest of all the family friends, attends them all professionally, and is godfather to the eldest children says that he has never behaved homosexually since his marriage.

Case 6.

-F, aged 25, is tall, well built, Scandinavian by birth. At the age of 15 he was warned by his mother that some of his friends were suspected of homosexuality and that he should be careful. ” But I am homosexual, ” he replied. His mother told me of this incident. She sought advice from their(Scandinavian) family doctor who explained that her son might well change his mind later, but that, in the meanwhile, nothing would be achieved by argument or recrimination. He stressed that it was most important that the son should feel that he had the confidence, sympathy, and understanding of his parents in this matter. In due course the position became accepted by his family who decided that he had had no personal choice in his sexual orientation and that-for better or worse-he had the right to live his private life in his own way. He is a cheerful extrovert, a keen and proficient ballroom dancer. He has many friends of both sexes but he tells me that he has never at any time in his life experienced any heterosexual desires. Genitalia are well developed but hair distribution is feminine, and he has little, if any, need to shave. He is not effeminate in voice or mannerisms, nor has he any transvestite tendencies. He is a hard and conscientious worker earning over E1500 p.a. in a business which gives him scope for his artistry and originality. He appears to be free from complexes about his anomaly, and says that he is content to be as he is. He is not promiscuous, does not frequent places where homosexuals are known to forgather, and hopes to find a permanent partner. In the meanwhile he has led a vigorous homosexual life in liaisons most of which have lasted several years.

Case 7

.-G is a successful farmer, aged about 46. He has an open-air appearance, heavy build, sunburnt complexion, rather stolid manner. He served in the Navy during the war. It was not until he was about 35 that he became fully aware of his sexual orientation. He says that women have never attracted him sexually. He admits that several times during his naval service he was attracted by other men, but he was too frightened to make the first move and none of the others ever did. I do not know the circumstances under which he had his first overt homosexual experience, but he is now leading an active homosexual life-deliberately, I think, trying to make up for lost time. Like so many who discover their homosexual inclinations relatively late in life, he suffers from a guilt complex and from hypochondria. Before I met him he had consulted a general practitioner who was believed to have had some psychiatric experience. When G explained that he was homosexual the doctor exclaimed ” Good God! you don’t look like one.” The patient tells me that he spent most of the consultation answering, not asking questions (” Are there many of you about ? “,” ” What do you really do ? “).Although G has no heterosexual desires, he is active in homosexual relationship.

Case 8

.-H, aged about 35, works as a member of the air crew of an international airline. He is a cheerful, uninhibited, stocky, rather tough type, full of bounce. His first wife divorced him when she discovered his homosexual tendencies. His second wife married him with full knowledge of these facts. She stipulated that, though he would be free to do as he wished with other men while away from home, she would not tolerate any affairs with other women. His sexual activity appears to be about equally divided between heterosexuality and homosexuality: in the former a sadistic tendency is apparent, whilst in the latter he prefers a passive role.

Case 9

.-I, whom I have known for some eighteen years, is now about 38 and is a man of fine physique-6 ft. 4 in. in height. During the war he served as an A.B. in the Navy, and, though he had no lack of female admirers, his sexual activity was almost entirely homosexual. After the war he returned to work for the firm he had joined on leaving school, and for which he still works. He comes from a happy home. There has been no divorce, no alcoholism, and he says that he was never seduced by an older person. Because he wanted a home and family he married shortly after the war. As he is a sensible level-headed person he chose nice girl with whom, after some ten years of marriage, he is still happy. They have a family. He tells me that since the birth of their first child sexual intercourse has become of less and less importance to them. His wife ” is wrapped up in the kids now and it does not worry me “. He is still predominantly homosexual by inclination, but he lives a quiet domesticated life on a modest income in a home where he is happy; so, as he says,” I don’t often get a chance to go off the rails.”Nobody meeting him socially or in business would suspect for one moment homosexual tendencies.

Case 10

.-J, now in his late 30s, says ” I have always been homosexual-I knew that before I left school.” During the war he served in the Army. A successful businessman, he is good mixer, an extrovert who rarely reads a book or remains by himself for any length of time. He has a large circle of friends, including many women (usually rather sophisticated types) with whom he is very popular. He shows no outward signs of homosexuality. He has lately attempted heterosexual intercourse with a partner who was already aware of his tendencies. He said afterwards ” It was awful, it brought me out in a cold sweat…the trouble is that a woman lacks the only thing I find sexually exciting … it was quite hopeless but luckily she understood.”

Case 11.

-K is 25 but looks younger. A self-taught but successful commercial artist, he is intelligent and a devout Roman Catholic. His father, an alcoholic, died some years ago. He lives in a student hostel but spends his weekends with his mother, stepfather, brothers, and sisters, with all of whom he gets on very well. Both at boarding-school and since he hashed several emotionally intense homosexual relationships resulting in mutual masturbation. These affairs have caused him deep feelings of guilt and remorse as he considers any form of extramarital sexuality sinful. On the other hand, he has no wish to enter the priesthood. He often has bouts of depression, because he sees no solution to his problem. He has never had any heterosexual inclinations and is convinced that he is entirely homosexually orientated. He says ” I can’t help falling in love with other men.” He says that marriage would be impossible for him; yet he knows that he will never be able to achieve complete sexual abstinence for long periods. He has always wished to be a woman and has had to make deliberate efforts to suppress transvestite tendencies. In school plays he was usually chosen for female parts (which he enjoyed playing) but suffered many taunts for being effeminate. Now he is constantly on his guard, while making every effort to appear normal. In this he has been successful, for he shows no obvious signs of homosexuality in speech, manner, or dress.  He is very interested in the recently publicised cases of change of sex which he wishes were possible for himself. To his friends he seems to be a cheerful chap with a happy outlook, but he has admitted to me that he has several times seriously considered suicide as the only solution to his problem.

Cases 12 and 13

.-L, aged 21, says that he has never had any heterosexual desires. Mesomorphic in physical type, he is virile in appearance and has larger than average genitalia; puberty was early. From childhood he has thought of himself as being female; many of his interests are feminine, and he says that, if he were offered the opportunity of becoming a” real woman “, he would accept without hesitation. At the age of about 10 he was friendly with a small girl of the same age. Their favourite game was to re-enact the film exploits of Tarzan and Jane, but he insisted upon being Jane whilst the small girl had to be Tarzan. He belonged to an average happy family, with normal brothers and sisters; no divorce, or evidence of an emotionally disturbed background. His work has now taken him away from his home town. At the age of 13 he was introduced to mutual masturbation by a middle-aged man. I have discussed this incident with him at some length and he is emphatic that the experience did not determine his sexual orientation of which, he says, he was already aware. He admits that he probably encouraged the incident, says he was not in the least frightened or upset by it, and anyway knew what to expect. “I still write to the old boy-well, a card at Christmas anyway.” From the age of about16 he has had many homosexual partners of his own age, but most of these affairs have been unsatisfactory. He says that he does not want to be promiscuous and that ” sex without affection is wrong “.A little over a year ago he formed an intense emotional attachment to M, an older man (38) with whom he works and who-though homosexual-at first showed little interest in him. M does not resemble at all the conventional picture of a homosexual-quiet, masculine manner, well built, a pipesmoking beer-drinking type. These two have now shared a flat for nearly a year, with L doing all the housekeeping. M has undoubtedly become very fond of his young friend, whilst L idolises his partner. L is a conscientious and hard worker who is very popular with the rest of the staff, both men and women, and he has been promoted twice with rises in salary during the past year.

Case 14

.-I first met N, now 45, about fifteen years ago when he was a sergeant in the army-an ordinary, friendly, not very intelligent, but very likeable person-whom I had reason to believe was completely homosexual in his habits, though there were no outward signs. After the war he joined a friend (not homosexual, but tolerant in outlook) in a retail business which is now prospering. I have known for some years that, though he is still a practicing homosexual, he wished to get married. The reasons were, I believe, that he was lonely and wanted companionship, that he wanted marriage as a camouflage for his reputation, and because he believed that sooner or later the alternative would be a police prosecution. Three years ago he married a woman he has known for many years, aged about 40, a comfortable, homely, placid person. There is no doubt that he is trying to be a good husband, but it is equally clear that he is no less homosexually inclined than he was. He still occasionally behaves homosexually if temptation and suitable opportunity offer. Afterwards he is very remorseful. When I asked how the sexual side of his marriage was going, he replied, rather guardedly, ” Oh, all right,” then changed the subject. I hear that his wife is shortly going on a long visit to her family. I hope that this is not a prelude to a breakup of the marriage.

Case 15.

-0, now 48, a man of independent means, widely travelled, had always been predominantly, but not exclusively, homosexual in his habits. In his late thirties he met a rather unusual, attractive, intelligent young actress, cosmopolitan in outlook like himself. They became very fond of each other and finally married. For five years all went well; they shared many interests in common, travelled extensively, and seemed to be happy together. Then the break came-I do not know the details. They still correspond in a friendly way, but live indifferent countries. There were no children and she has not remarried. He has now lived with a man of 28 for several years. Neither 0 nor his friend is promiscuous and they do not mix in any homosexual coterie. 0 said to me recently “ This is the only way I can live. The other was an unnatural existence for me and I could not keep it up any longer.”

Case 16

.-P is a bachelor now in his mid-80s. He comes from a socially prominent and prosperous family. During his student days he travelled extensively, studying languages. He was tall, a keen athlete, and, he says, a good-looking young man. One of his tutors, several of his student friends, and some acquaintances on his travels made homosexual advances; but these shocked him. He had a distinguished Service career in the First World War. As he became older he realised that he was predominantly homosexual in orientation, but his family background and training had taught him that this was reprehensible; so he did not allow any homosexual behaviour to occur. He tells me that he never discussed his inclinations with any person until about five years ago when he did so with me. His knowledge of the subject up to that time was derived from reading Greek and other classical writers. It appears that not until after his 50th year did he have his first experience of sexual activity with another person. He is now obsessed by the thought of his ” wasted youth it distresses him to find that it is the physical beauty of the youth of both sexes-but particularly young males-which attracts him. He admits that mutual masturbation with young men in the 16-20 age-group has occurred often during the last thirty years, but no sexual acts with women or older men. Since a prostatectomy a few years ago these incidents have ceased or, at least, become less common. He says that if he had had some sexual fulfillment during his youth and maturity he would now be content to ” grow old gracefully “.In his community he is liked and respected and his personal problem is unsuspected by his friends and neighbours.These case-histories have been selected from a much larger number to illustrate different types of male homosexual. All are known to me personally, none shows any outward signs of homosexuality (except possibly no. 6),only one (case 16) is sexually interested in adolescents; only one has sought medical advice. None of them has ever been on a police charge for a homosexual offence. None of them knows of any reason why they are homosexually orientated, and all agree that seduction in childhood by older persons was not the cause. I have attended most of them professionally, but none of them consulted me because of homosexuality.



It is my considered opinion that the cause of homosexuality is still unknown. One day the heterosexual man finds he has heterosexual desires: one day the homosexual man, usually to his embarrassment and distress, finds that he has homosexual desires. Neither has had the’ slightest choice in his sexual orientation. Likewise, one day the ambisexual discovers that he reacts erotically to both sexes.

Heredity seems to play no part, nor does genetic abnormality or endocrine disturbance seem to be responsible. The involved, and often conflicting, astiological explanations advanced by psychiatrists I find unconvincing. Their theories may appear reasonable when confronted, in the consulting-room, by a neurotic, hysterical, immature or otherwise emotionally disturbed homosexual patient, but most homosexual men are well adjusted and, apart from their sexual anomaly, no different from their fellows. Can these psychiatric theories, based on a disturbed parent-child emotional relationship in a highly developed Western civilised society, explain homosexuality among primitive, uncivilised, often polygamous tribes ?

Criteria of Treatment

The words ” cure ” and ” treatment ” are used too freely by doctors, judges, magistrates, and lawyers, withlittle regard to the facts. For the homosexual cure can only mean the reorientation of his desires into heterosexual channels. Chastity, adopted for moral, religious, or legal reasons or enforced by chemical castration, is not a cure for homosexuality. As far as I am aware homosexually deviated instincts have never been permanently reorientated into heterosexual channels. Claims have been made but none have ever been submitted to the criteria for other medical claims-namely, independent scrutiny and adequate lapse of time to prove permanence. To accept marriage, or an intention to marry, as a criterion of cure is unrealistic. Another factor often overlooked when cures are claimed is that the homosexual who goes to a psychiatrist for treatment is usually already in trouble with himself(feelings of guilt, depression, or inferiority), with his family (scandal or disgrace), or with the police. He is desperately anxious to be cured and only too glad to accept the psychiatrist’s assurances. Disillusionment comes later.


There are as yet no reliable figures for the incidence of homosexuality in Britain. Kinsey’s figures,’ based on his1. Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., Martin, C. E. Sexual Behaviour of the Human Male. Philadelphia and London, 1948.nine-year survey in the United States, are probably equally applicable in Britain but are generally scorned, not because any evidence to refute them has been produced during the past ten years, but because to most people they are ” unpalatable “. The homosexual in Britain is not only a potential criminal but usually also an undetected criminal. To allow his anomaly to become known will usually deprive him of most of his friends and perhaps of his livelihood. Is it surprising, therefore, that most of these men take adequate precautions to camouflage their anomaly ? Is it surprising that the general public persistently and grossly underestimate the number of homosexuals in this country ? My experience as a homosexual over the past thirty years has convinced me that at least 10% of adult men fall into the Kinsey ratings 4, 5, and 6. In Britain this means that between 11/2 and 2 million men are predominantly homosexual. Investigations I have made in several European and non-European countries leads me to believe that the incidence varies little, if at all, from country to country.


In discussions of homosexuality the physical aspects tend to be overemphasised while the emotional aspects are overlooked. Yet these may be as intense as those experienced by heterosexuals. Many homosexual friendships, like many heterosexual friendships, do not include physical acts. The homosexual liaison-unlike marriage is unsupported by legal, social, economic, or family considerations tending to encourage permanency. I do not believe that homosexuals are inherently more promiscuous than heterosexuals would be if they had to live under similar conditions of loneliness and sexual insecurity. Lesbianism, fornication, adultery, rape, even murder can usually be discussed calmly and objectively, but male homosexuality rarely. It seems likely that the illogical and disproportionate emotional reaction produced in some people-usually men, not women-by this subject is caused by unresolved conflicts. It is widely believed among homosexuals that exaggerated revulsion is an indication of latent homosexual tendencies. Homosexual problems are often the cause of alcoholism and suicide, though the basic reason for these tragedies is rarely disclosed and usually unsuspected. I make no attempt to defend the immorality disclosed in many of the case-histories, beyond suggesting that it should be judged alongside heterosexual immorality.


The case-histories I have described support the following views: Some men are wholly homosexual and incapable of heterosexual relationships (cases 2, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13).The main sexual pattern is laid down in the early years of life (cases 6, 9, 10, 11, 12).Neither heterosexual nor homosexual activity, even when continued over a period of many years, seems to alter the underlying basic sexual orientation (cases 1,3,5,8,9,14,15).Homosexuals are reluctant to seek medical advice because: They believe that most family doctors share the ignorance and the emotional prejudice of the layman on this subject. Most of them know that medical treatment cannot make them heterosexual. People, including doctors, find it easy to preach lifelong chastity for others when they do not have to practise it themselves.



1. Twitter Trackbacks for 1959 Revolutionary thinking about homosexuality « LGBT Latest Science [lgbtlatestscience.wordpress.com] on Topsy.com - August 30, 2009

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2. John - August 30, 2009

Strange that the assumption is always that homosexual men are in part feminine or even female! Plato claimed exactly the opposite, and in my own experience (I am 78 years old) it is is the heterosexuals who have a largely womanly component, both physically and mentally. The girlish nancy boy is usually living a pose foisted on him by his acceptance of a misconception by the heterosexual community. He comes to accept this as his true personality and is usually unhappy as a result, because he knows he is living a lie.

3. superjenna - August 31, 2009

I posted this to my twitter, it says it all! I think my friends might find this interesting too 😀

Great find, Jude!

4. Twitted by lgbtlatestscien - September 6, 2009

[…] This post was Twitted by lgbtlatestscien […]

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