EvilMonk.org: Ambrosio's BDSM Site
  • Home
  • History
  • Time Magazine Looks at Homosexuality (1966)
© copyright 2000 - 2023 by the author - All Rights Reserved.
☰ Site Navigation

Time Magazine Looks at Homosexuality (1966)

"The Homosexual In America," an Essay from Time Magazine on January 21, 1966

This is a research paper with criticism, commentary, notes, and quotations.

In-Page Table of Contents

The Essay

On January 21, 1966 --- a year and a half after Life Magazine released its report on "Homosexuality in America." and three years before the Stonewall Riots occured in New York City, Time Magazine included an essay titled "The Homosexual In America,". The Time essay was similiar in tone to Life's report. The text of the Time essay follows.

IT used to be "the abominable crime not to be mentioned." Today it is not only mentioned; it is freely discussed and widely analyzed. Yet the general attitude toward homosexuality is, if anything, more uncertain than before. Beset by inner conflicts, the homosexual is unsure of his position in society, ambivalent about his attitudes and identity — but he gains a certain amount of security through the fact that society is equally ambivalent about him. A vast majority of people retain a deep loathing toward him, but there is a growing mixture of tolerance, empathy or apathy. Society is torn between condemnation and compassion, fear and curiosity, between attempts to turn the problem into a joke and the knowledge that it is anything but funny, between the deviate's plea to be treated just like everybody else and the knowledge that he simply is not like everybody else.

Homosexuality is more in evidence in the U.S. than ever before — as an almost inevitable subject matter in fiction, a considerable influence in the arts, a highly visible presence in the cities, from nighttime sidewalks to the most "in" parties. The latest Rock Hudson movie explicitly jokes about it, Doubleday Book Shops run smirking ads for The Gay Cookbook, and newsstands make room for "beefcake" magazines of male nudes. Whether the number of homosexuals has actually increased is hard to say. In 1948, Sexologist Alfred Kinsey published figures that homosexuals found cheering. He estimated that 4% of American white males are exclusively homosexual and that about two in five had "at least some" homosexual experience after puberty. Given Kinsey's naive sampling methods, the figures were almost certainly wrong. But chances are that growing permissiveness about homosexuality and a hedonistic attitude toward all sex have helped "convert" many people who might have repressed their inclinations in another time or place.

Homosexuals are present in every walk of life, on any social level, often anxiously camouflaged; the camouflage will sometimes even include a wife and children, and psychoanalysts are busy treating wives who have suddenly discovered a husband's homosexuality. But increasingly, deviates are out in the open, particularly in fashion and the arts. Women and homosexual men work together designing, marketing, retailing, and wrapping it all up in the fashion magazines. The interior decorator and the stockbroker's wife conspire over curtains. And the symbiosis is not limited to working hours. For many a woman with a busy or absent husband, the presentable homosexual is in demand as an escort —witty, pretty, catty, and no problem to keep at arm's length. Rich dowagers often have a permanent traveling court of charming international types who exert influence over what pictures and houses their patronesses buy, what decorators they use, and where they spend which season.

Many sad souls come home from a rough day over the ribbon counter…and face the prospect of wading into that grim little kitchenette to whip up something cheap and filling. No ‘little woman’ to greet him at the door…So we’ll offer here a sort of nonsensical cookbook for the androgynous…we do not hesitate to assure the reader that all preparations and recipe details are honest and practical.
— Chef Lou Rand Hogan in The Gay Cookbook

"The Gay Cookbook" cover featuring a cartoon of a cheerful effeminate man in a chef's hat placing a steak on a grill

The Homintern

On Broadway, it would be difficult to find a production without homosexuals playing important parts, either onstage or off. And in Hollywood, says Broadway Producer David Merrick, "you have to scrape them off the ceiling." The notion that the arts are dominated by a kind of homosexual mafia—or "Homintern," as it has been called—is sometimes exaggerated, particularly by spiteful failures looking for scapegoats. But in the theater, dance and music world, deviates are so widespread that they sometimes seem to be running a kind of closed shop. Art Critic Harold Rosenberg reports a "banding together of homosexual painters and their nonpainting auxiliaries."

There is no denying the considerable talent of a great many homosexuals, and ideally, talent alone is what should count. But the great artists so often cited as evidence of the homosexual's creativity—the Leonardos and Michelangelos —are probably the exceptions of genius. For the most part, thinks Los Angeles Psychiatrist Edward Stainbrook, homosexuals are failed artists, and their special creative gift a myth. No less an authority than Somerset Maugham felt that the homosexual, "however subtly he sees life, cannot see it whole," and lacks "the deep seriousness over certain things that normal men take seriously ... He has small power of invention, but a wonderful gift for delightful embroidery. He has vitality, brilliance, but seldom strength."

Homosexual ethics and esthetics are staging a vengeful, derisive counterattack on what deviates call the "straight" world. This is evident in "pop," which insists on reducing art to the trivial, and in the "camp" movement, which pretends that the ugly and banal are fun. It is evident among writers, who used to disguise homosexual stories in heterosexual dress but now delight in explicit descriptions of male intercourse and orgiastic nightmares. It is evident in the theater, with many a play dedicated to the degradation of women and the derision of normal sex. The most sophisticated theatrical joke is now built around a homosexual situation; shock comes not from sex but from perversion. Attacks on women or society in general are neither new in U.S. writing nor necessarily homosexual, but they do offer a special opportunity for a consciously or unconsciously homosexual outlook. They represent a kind of inverted romance, since homosexual situations as such can never be made romantic for normal audiences.

Notes

  • According to Wiktionary.org, Homintern is a supposed conspiracy of homosexual elites who controlled the art world. It is a play on the name Comintern which refers to the Communist International, an international organization founded in 1919 advocating world communism.
  • Harold Rosenberg was the art critic of The New Yorker from 1962 until his death in 1978.

The Gay Subculture

Even in ordinary conversation, most homosexuals will sooner or later attack the "things that normal men take seriously." This does not mean that homosexuals do not and cannot talk seriously; but there is often a subtle sea change in the conversation: sex (unspoken) pervades the atmosphere. Among other matters, this raises the question of whether there is such a thing as a discernible homosexual type. Some authorities, notably Research Psychologist Evelyn Hooker of U.C.L.A., deny it—against what seems to be the opinion of most psychiatrists. The late Dr. Edmund Bergler found certain traits present in all homosexuals, including inner depression and guilt, irrational jealousy and a megalomaniac conviction that homosexual trends are universal. Though Bergler conceded that homosexuals are not responsible for their inner conflicts, he found that these conflicts "sap so much of their inner energy that the shell is a mixture of superciliousness, fake aggression and whimpering. Like all psychic masochists, they are subservient when confronted by a stronger person, merciless when in power, unscrupulous about trampling on a weaker person."

Another homosexual trait noted by Bergler and others is chronic dissatisfaction, a constant tendency to prowl or "cruise" in search of new partners. This is one reason why the "gay" bars flourishing all over the U.S. attract even the more respectable deviates. Sociologists regard the gay bar as the center of a kind of minor subculture with its own social scale and class warfare.

As André Gide pointed out long ago from personal experience, there are several varieties of homosexuals that the heterosexual world lumps together but that "feel an irrepressible loathing for one another." Today in the U.S., there are "mixed" bars where all homosexuals, male and female, are persona grata; "cuff-linky" bars that cater to the college and junior-executive type; "swish" bars for the effeminates and "hair fairies" with their careful coiffures; "TV" bars, which cater not to television fans but to transvestites; "leather" bars for the tough-guy types with their fondness for chains and belts; San Francisco's new "Topless Boys" discotheques, featuring bare-chested entertainers. San Francisco and Los Angeles are rivals for the distinction of being the capital of the gay world; the nod probably goes to San Francisco.

The LIFE special report in June 1964 briefly covered a Leather Bar: the Tool Box in San Franciso. The magazine devoted a two page photo spread of the bar which has become iconic.

Virtually all societies in history have known homosexuality and, with few exceptions, have strongly condemned it—and yet often tolerated it. In 18th century London, for example, Novelist Tobias Smollett sarcastically found that "homosexuality gains ground apace and in all probability will become in a short time a more fashionable device than fornication." But the only society, apart from some primitive ones, that distinctly approved homosexual love was 5th century Greece. "We must blush for Greece," said the enlightened Voltaire. Even this much publicized example has often been overinterpreted. The homosexuality that Socrates and Plato knew rose only with the development of a slave culture and the downgrading of women to the level of uneducated domestics. This resulted in a romantic cult of the beautiful young boy—but not to the exclusion of heterosexual relations —much as the restriction of women to purdah led to a high incidence of pederasty in the Middle East, which is now abating with the growing emancipation of Moslem women.

The once widespread view that homosexuality is caused by heredity, or by some derangement of hormones, has been generally discarded. The consensus is that it is caused psychically, through a disabling fear of the opposite sex. The origins of this fear lie in the homosexual's parents. The mother—either domineering and contemptuous of the father, or feeling rejected by him—makes her son a substitute for her husband, with a close-binding, overprotective relationship. Thus, she unconsciously demasculinizes him. If at the same time the father is weakly submissive to his wife or aloof and unconsciously competitive with his son, he reinforces the process. To attain normal sexual development, according to current psychoanalytic theory, a boy should be able to identify with his father's masculine role.

Fear of the opposite sex is also believed to be the cause of Lesbianism, which is far less visible but, according to many experts, no less widespread than male homosexuality—and far more readily tolerated. Both forms are essentially a case of arrested development, a failure of learning, a refusal to accept the full responsibilities of life. This is nowhere more apparent than in the pathetic pseudo marriages in which many homosexuals act out conventional roles—wearing wedding rings, calling themselves "he" and "she."

Is homosexuality curable? Freud thought not. In the main, he felt that analysis could only bring the deviant patient relief from his neurotic conflicts by giving him "harmony, peace of mind, full efficiency, whether he remains a homosexual or gets changed." Many of Freud's successors are more optimistic. Philadelphia's Dr. Samuel Hadden reported last year that he had achieved twelve conversions out of 32 male homosexuals in group therapy. Paris Psychiatrist Sacha Nacht reports that about a third of his patients turn heterosexual, a third adjust to what they are, and a third get no help at all. But he feels that only about one in ten is moved to seek help in the first place.

Notes

  • The Tobias Smollett quote is from The Adventures of Roderick Random, a picaresque novel published in 1748.

The Wolfenden Problem

That is the crux: most homosexuals apparently do not desire a cure. A generation ago, the view that homosexuality should be treated not as a vice but as a disease was considered progressive. Today in many quarters it is considered reactionary. Homophile opinion rejects the notion that homosexuals are sick, and argues that they simply have different tastes. Kinsey had a lot to do with this, for to him all sexual pleasure was equally valid. "The only unnatural sex act," he said, "is that which you cannot perform." His coauthor, Wardell Pomeroy, also argues that homosexuality should be accepted as a fact of human existence, and claims to have known many happy, well-adjusted homosexual couples.

Such views are enthusiastically taken up by several so-called homophile groups, a relatively new phenomenon. Best known of these deviate lobbies is the Mattachine Society, which takes its name from the court jesters of the Middle Ages, who uttered social criticism from behind masks. In recent years, the Mattachines have been increasingly discarding their masks; the Washington branch has even put picket lines outside the White House to protest exclusion of known homosexuals from the civil service and the armed forces, has lately protested exclusion from the Poverty Program. Borrowing a device from the civil rights movement, homophiles have even issued lapel buttons bearing a small equality sign ( = ) on a lavender background.

Quite apart from the homophile organizations, there is widespread agitation by various groups, including the Civil Liberties Union, for the repeal of laws that in 48 states make various homosexual acts punishable by prison terms ranging from six months to life. The model invariably cited is Britain's 1957 Wolfenden Report — not yet accepted by Parliament—which proposes that homosexual relations between consenting adults should not be illegal. In the U.S., only Illinois has so far adopted this principle. Police, however, claim that many people, including judges, already act as if the Wolfenden rule were the law across the U.S.

The Moral Issue

The most telling argument for the Wolfenden rule is that the present statutes are unenforceable anyway as long as the homosexual acts are performed in private (many of the laws also prohibit the same acts between man and wife). In effect, the arrests that are now made are for public or semipublic acts, including "soliciting," with homosexuals often trapped by plainclothesmen posing as deviates. There is also a constant opportunity for blackmail and for shakedowns by real or phony cops, a practice known as "gayola." Advocates of the Wolfenden position argue further that persecution by society only renders the neurotic homosexual more neurotic. A Church of England committee declared that the function of the law is to "protect young people from seduction or assault, and to protect society from nuisances," but not to be the guardian of private morality.

Notes

  • The earlier Life magazine report also included coverage of the Mattachine Society & other homophile groups, Alfred Kinsey's research, and the Wolfenden Report.

Opponents of this view point out that it is extremely difficult to determine what constitutes "seduction" or even genuine "consent" between adults. Sir Patrick Devlin, formerly a judge on Britain's highest court, argues that the distinction between private and public morality is obscure and indefensible. Many U.S. jurists agree, among them New York State Supreme Court Justice Samuel Hofstadter, who believes that "discretion and privacy" cannot make the difference "between a wrongful and a lawful act"—as, for instance, in the case of incest. He supports a compassionate attitude but feels that "to legalize homosexual conduct is an injustice to society's future and an evasion of the problem."

Beyond the pros and cons of legal reform, there is a separate moral issue. The clear-cut condemnations of the Bible or of traditional moral philosophy have come to be considerably toned down. An influential 1963 statement by British Quakers held that "homosexual affection can be as selfless as heterosexual affection" and therefore is not necessarily a sin. A surprising number of Protestant churchmen accept this idea. Most will still assert that homosexuality is an offense against God and man, but usually with qualifications. Says Los Angeles Methodist Bishop Gerald Kennedy: "The Lord made man and woman, and this implies a sexual relationship and sexual harmony which is in the center of nature." He is echoed by Harvard Divinity School's Harvey Cox, who, from a theological viewpoint, sees "the man-woman relationship as a model of the God-man relationship."

Lack of procreation or of marriage vows is not the issue; even Roman Catholic authorities hold that an illicit hetero sexual affair has a degree of "authentication," while a homosexual relationship involves only "negation." Roman Catholic thought generally agrees that homosexuality is of and in itself wrong because, as New York's Msgr. Thomas McGovern says, it is "inordinate, having no direction toward a proper aim." Even in purely nonreligious terms, homosexuality represents a misuse of the sexual faculty and, in the words of one Catholic educator, of "human construction." It is a pathetic little second-rate substitute for reality, a pitiable flight from life. As such it deserves fairness, compassion, understanding and, when possible, treatment. But it deserves no encouragement, no glamorization, no rationalization, no fake status as minority martyrdom, no sophistry about simple differences in taste—and, above all, no pretense that it is anything but a pernicious sickness.

Notes

  • Samuel H. Hofstadter was a justice of the New York Supreme Court from 1933 to 1964 and and an Official Referee (i.e., senior additional judge) of the Supreme Court from 1964 to 1969.

Towards a Quaker View of Sex (1963) states:

It is the nature and quality of a relationship that matters: one must not judge it by its outward appearance but by its inner worth. Homosexual affection can be as selfless as heterosexual affection, and therefore we cannot see that it is in some way morally worse.

Homosexual affection may of course be an emotion which some find aesthetically disgusting, but one cannot base Christian morality on a capacity for such disgust. Neither are we happy with the thought that all homosexual behaviour is sinful: motive and circumstances degrade or ennoble any act…

We see no reason why the physical nature of a sexual act should be the criterion by which the question whether or not it is moral should be decided. An act which (for example) expresses true affection between two individuals and gives pleasure to them both, does not seem to us to be sinful by reason alone of the fact that it is homosexual. The same criteria seem to us to apply whether a relationship is heterosexual or homosexual.

Back to Top

The Response

A Lecture by Dr. Isadore Rubin Covered in The Ladder

The cover of "The Ladder" for April 1966.

The April 1966 issue of The Ladder, the monthly publication of the Daughters of Bilitis, contained a three page article by Kay Tobin about a lecture by Isadore Rubin, PhD., the editor of Sexology magazine. He rebuked Time magazine for the essay.

A Rebuke for TIME’s Pernicious Prejudice

An answer to TIME Magazine's essay "The Homosexual in America" (January 21) was delivered in the form of a lecture by Isadore Rubin, Ph.D., editor of SEXOLOGY Magazine and a member of the Sex Information and Education Council of the U. S. (SIECUS), Dr. Rubin's talk, sponsored by the Janus Society, was given la Philadelphia on February 25 and drew an audience of over 200.

Dr. Rubin said he was appalled when he read this essay In a supposedly responsible publication. He noted that TIME prides Itself on being knowledgeable and aware of all the latest things in the fields It discusses. "But If this Is so, then I am forced to conclude that If they are not Ignorant, the editors of this essay are intellectually dishonest, motivated by prejudice, and guilty of deliberate omission and distortion."

He pointed out that TIME's essay manages to have virtually no mention whatever of any discrimination against homosexuals and indeed It Insists they should not be viewed as a martyred minority. Dr. Rubin said that only a prejudiced person could believe homosexuals are not the victims of severe Injustices.

"Is It discrimination when a person found guilty of a homosexual act In private in a Southern state Is condemned to twenty years at hard labor? When college students (in Tallahassee, Florida) are given $10 each by the police for every person they manage to incite or entrap Into a homosexual act? When a person In the armed services found to be homosexual Is given an other than honorable discharge for no other reason than that he Is homosexual? When all homosexuals are excluded from the State Department, regardless of their training and competence, and classed as security risks? When public places are subject to police harassment solely because they serve homosexuals? Perhaps this does not create martyrs," said Dr. Rubin, "but It does create a dlscrlmlnated-agalnst minority."

While TIME calls for "fairness, compassion, understanding" for homosexuality, Dr, Rubin said he could not find in the essay any example of fairness, compassion, or understanding. It is no plea for understanding, he noted, when TIME claims the arts are dominated by a kind of homosexual Mafia, a "Hominterm," based on the Cominterm, which is supposed to arouse readers' anti-Communist prejudices. Dr. Rubin said he doubted that TIME would be similarly willing to accuse the State Department, which Is dominated by heterosexuals, of being a conspiracy of a heterosexual Mafia because of its exclusion of homosexuals.

Dr. Rubin gave examples of how the TIME essay tries to discredit opinions favorable to homosexuality. For Instance, TIME dismisses the Kinsey research - the best research done on sex so far in this country. Dr. Rubin noted - by calling Kinsey' s sampling methods "naive" and saying his figures "were almost certainly wrong." TIME, suggested Dr. Rubin, may be longing for the old days of hush-and-pretend when people were deceiving themselves that certain sexual activities like homosexuality were merely rare deviations from normal behavior.

When quoting former Kinsey associate Dr. Wardell Pomeroy, the essay says that Dr. Pomeroy "claims to have known many happy, well-adjusted homosexual couples," The word "claims" suggests to the reader that Dr. Pomeroy might be mistaken. On the other hand, when describing the out-of-date and never-proven theories of psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler, TIME blithely states that Bergler found certain traits present in all homosexuals - with no indication In the essay's wording that Bergler was merely hypothesizing on the basis of those homosexuals who considered themselves sick enough to go to him for treatment.

Dr. Rubin charged that Bergler*s statements about all_homosexuals are "arrant and complete nonsense" and that TIME, In reaching back to 1956 to quote Bergler, in the face of all the research done since then, is guilty of Intellectual dishonesty.

Dr. Rubin then reviewed recent research to see whether or not the keystone of TIME's essay, the insistence that homosexuality is a sickness, would stand. "No honest scientist can any longer deny that this Is an extremely controversial question, and that the burden of proof today rests upon those who claim that homosexuality is necessarily, of itself, an illness."

Dr. Evelyn Hooker, after her comparative study of homosexual and heterosexual men, concluded that severe emotional maladjustments are not more common among homosexuals than among heterosexuals. She has pointed out that the homosexual minority Includes many of our most able and useful citizens in all walks of life, including the clergy.

Dr. Virginia Armon repeated Hooker's experiment, using female hcmosexuals and heterosexuals. She came out with the same findings as Hooker and said that one should not make any generalizations about female homosexuals as a group.

Dr. Joseph DeLuca studied a group of Army Inductees being discharged, none having a history of psychiatric hospitalization. His results suggested that homosexuality does not exist as a distinct clinical entity. The homosexuals in his study varied from each other as much as they did from the heterosexuals in regard to personality structure. Dr. DeLuca commented: "The issue of whether homosexuals are more pathologic than normals. In the light of the present findings, seems to have been an unwarranted assumption, based more upon armchair theorizing than experimental evidence."

In South Africa, Renee Liddicoat studied 50 male and 50 female homosexuals, comparing them with a comparable group of heterosexuals, and she concluded: "These people constitute a group of citizens often highly respected, who live useful lives and whose behavior in every way except that of sexual expression conforms to our socially accepted standard of normality.

Dr. Rubin pointed out that these and other studies comprise a body of work, done under scientific rules, which questions the concept of homosexuality as an illness, yet TIME not only ignored all such research but ended its essay with the dictatorial editorial statement that homosexuality is 'a pernicious sickness'." And because this essay is "a tissue of such prejudicial terms (and) Is based on deliberate omission and distortion," we have a right to object to it, Dr. Rubin concluded,

- Kay Tobin

Notes

  • Sexology Magazine was an American magazine about the practice of human sexuality published between 1933 and 1983. It was similar to Psychology Today in that it covered an important topic in an accessible style rather than difficult accidemic manner. The topics were a mixture of important, relevant, and sensational.

Two issue of Sexology Magazine from 1966

That same issue of The Ladder included “Letters TIME didn’t print,” an unpublished letter and two unpublished excepts of letters sent to the editors of TIME.

A Letter From Franklin E. Kameny

Gentlemen:

Instead of a mature, fair, objective assessment of the Issue of homosexuality, divorced from ancient prejudices, pre- and' misconceptions, and intolerances, we have a veneraous, petulant polemic, suitable for a second-rate conservative publication.

From Its stereotyping of "the homosexual" in the same Invalid fashion as that In which others type "the Negro" or "the Jew," to Its choice as a major "authority" of a man (Bergler) whose views are discredited and disavowed even by his own professional colleagues, TIME has remained in the mlllenla-old Intellectual and emotional rut on this question.

Instead of making a skeptical examination of the claims of modern psychiatry and finding that they are based upon shabby, slipshod science. Including poor sampling techniques, built-in conclusions, and armchair theorizing about the nature of homosexuality, TIME swallows these claims hook, line, and sinker.

The negativlstic approach to the question is well Illustrated by the Incorrect and unproven characterization of homosexuality as caused by "a disabling fear of the opposite sex." This makes a negative thing out of what most homosexuals can affirm is a very positive thing Indeed - an attraction toward the same sex. It would be as Inaccurate to attribute heterosexuality to a disabling fear of the same sex. But of course no one thinks to ask the question so critically Important In this context: What causes heterosexuality?

One of the most appalling statements In the essay Is the comment that "the most telling argument for the Wolfenden rule Is that the present statutes (against homosexual acts} are unenforceable." This Is most assuredly not any argument at all for the Wolfenden rule. Were the present statutes enforceable and enforced, the argument for the Wolfenden recommendations would be even more telling. The argument for the Wolfenden rule Is simply that It is a shockingly savage, barbaric, brutal, and uncivilized thing Indeed to throw Into Jail (think of that for a moment) or otherwise to penalize adults who have engaged In private, consensual sexual acts, or acts of love, which have no adverse consequences (and of course homosexual acts, per se, do not}. Throwing a man Into prison for any length of time - and certainly for years or decades - for such totally harmless expressions of love and affbctlon Is bad enough. Bland acceptance of the reasoning which permits. Justifies,

The entire essay is pervaded by loose, superficial reasoning used to Justify pre-determined conclusions, and by a dread of smd harmful status The concluding three sentences are an unwarrantedly vicious attack upon a sincere effort to improve the status of a maligned and persecuted group of people and to gain for them the dignity to which all human beings have the right to aspire. Those sentences are the voice of a closed mind, of a mind which clearly has pre-Judged, Is not open to change, and Is therefore In the most fundamental sense, prejudiced.

- Franklin E. Kameny

Franklin Edward Kameny (1925 – 2011) was an American gay rights activist. In 1957, he was dismissed from his position as an astronomer in the U.S. Army's Army Map Service in Washington, D.C., because of his homosexuality, leading him to begin a struggle against the descrimination of homosexuals in the U.S.

Frank Kameny (the second man in line) among picketers at the White House in 1965
On April 17, 1965, Frank Kameny and nine other people protested in a picket line outside the White House. (Kameny is the second person in line in this photo.)
Frank Kameny in the White House meeting President Obama
On December 22, 2010, Kameny atttended the ceremony at the White House where President Barack Obama signed the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010.

An Excerpt of a Letter from Jody Shotwell

Jody R. Shotwell was a contributor to ONE Magazine.

Dear Sirs:

If the TIME "essay" - "The Homosexual in America" - were being graded by a teacher of high school English composition. It would very likely be returned with the comment, "This Is not an essay but an editorial." There Is a difference.

The tone of the piece precludes any pretense at real interest In the subject, either sympathetic or scientific. It ends on a genuinely vicious note - which In most cases Is Indicative that the writer Is bugged for reasons of his own.

You should be more careful of what you say. Any one of you on the TIME staff might have a homosexual child in his home right now. Be sure to keep your masculine Images polished.

- Jody R. Shotwell

An Excerpt of a Letter from Fritz A. Plucklger, Ph. D.

Dear Sir:

Your statement about there being a "consensus" that homosexuality "Is caused psychically, through a disabling fear of the opposite sex" is misleading. There is no such consensus among workers In the field; you are simply presenting the views popularized by psychoanalysis. The evidence in support of these views is derived from impressionistic reporting in the light of preconceived theoretical notions. The single large-scale Psychoanalstic study In existence on the etiology of homosexuality (Irving Bieber, et al., HOMOSEXUALITY: A PSYCHOANALYTIC STUDY, New York, Basic Books, 1962) has crippling methodological flaws which make it unacceptable to the psychologist using established scientific criteria in evaluating research.

You are surprisingly unaware of the fact that sex research has been revolutionized over the past 30 years by the contributions of anthropologists, ethnologists, learning theorists, workers in comparative psychology, and others. You fall to acknowledge even the existence of these workers except for a slighting reference to Kinsey. Instead, you have used all the stereotypes and semantic devices which the social psychologist has come to expect from propagandists of one faith or another.

Is it not time for your researchers to learn to read psychological material which is up to date, even if it is not presented in the picturesque, easy to read, easy to talk about at cocktail parties, analogical language of the psychoanalysts?

- Fritz A. Plucklger, Ph. D.

Eric Marcus in TIME in 2019

In 2019, Time magazine published an article by Eric Marcus titled "How TIME’s Reporting on Gay Life in America Shaped—and-Skewed a Generation’s Attitudes." It was his critical review of Time's coverage of homosexuality over the years. He included the 1966 essay:

In my research, as I struggled to gain an understanding of why people saw homosexuals as sick, sinful and criminal, I stumbled on a 1966 essay in TIME that just about burned the skin off my face as I read it. I think it was meant as a meditation on what to make of the then-growing visibility of gay life in America. But while it’s couched as enlightened analysis, it now reads as shockingly regressive. (There was no byline, which was the norm for the magazine at the time.) To this day, there are words and phrases from that essay that I can recite from memory: Deviate. Witty, pretty, catty, and no problem to keep at arm’s length. Caused psychically, through a disabling fear of the opposite sex. A case of arrested development. A pathetic little second-rate substitute for reality, a pitiable flight from life. No pretense that it is anything but a pernicious sickness.

Back to Top

Related Reading