Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Subtle Wording Effect

The Family Blah Blah groups love to put the word "gay" in quotation marks, as if it were jargon or a euphemism. And they love to use the word "homosexual," emphasizing the x in sex so you have to think about sex when you think of gay people. It's a subtle way to make it sound dirty.

A recent survey shows that it works. This is interesting, a really good survey methods experiment.

A CBS News / New York Times poll looked into the question of gays in the military. They compared some numbers to 1993, when Bill Clinton first proposed "Don't Ask Don't Tell." As expected, a majority 59 percent favor "homosexuals in the military" now, compared to 42 percent in 1993.

The survey authors did something cool here. They asked the question two ways. They asked some respondents how they felt about "homosexuals serving in the military" and they asked others how they felt about "gay men and lesbians serving in the military." Here are the results:

Homosexuals Gay Men & Lesbians
Strongly favor 34% 51%
Somewhat favor 25 19
Somewhat oppose 10 7
Strongly oppose 19 12

That is a beautiful effect. People are much more tolerant of gay men and lesbians than they are of homosexuals. Seventy percent of people favor letting gay men and lesbians serve in the military, eleven percentage points more.

I have always wondered what kind of effect a subtle linguistic barb like that really has. It's like the Republicans talking about the "Democrat Party," you know they're just being jerks about it but you wonder if it has any effect. The religious right loves to call gay and lesbian people "homosexuals," half because gay people don't like it and half because they like to think it's all about sex. You can see that this kind of wording really does have the desired effect, gay men and lesbians get a much higher approval rating than homosexuals.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Besides learning your sexual preference, what else do the words "gay" or straight" or "lesbian" tell you? Regardless of which word you use -- it all means the same thing.

February 14, 2010 6:50 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

In a dictionary sense, "gay men and lesbian" is exactly synonymous with "homosexuals." As this study shows, in reality the two terms have different meanings, at least they elicit different affective responses.

People like gay men and lesbians a lot more than they like homosexuals -- if "it all means the same thing," how do you explain that?


February 14, 2010 7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was referring to the fact that you said that religious people like the word "homosexual" because it's all about sex. Gay and lesbian and straight are all about sex too, so it wouldn't really matter.

Regarding the study and the different results...I don't know. It'd be interesting to see if it could be replicated. It would also be interesting to see a study like that done using "straight" and "heterosexual." That would test your "sex" theory.

I use "homosexual" and "heterosexual" because I think that being called "straight" sounds boring and offensive. When I do use the word "straight," though, then I use the corresponding "gay." When I use "heterosexual" then I use the corresponding "homosexual."

February 14, 2010 8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you use the term ex-homosexual or ex-gay?

February 14, 2010 8:36 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

I use "straight."


February 14, 2010 8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Ex-homosexual" is more accurate than ex-gay, since "gay" can often refer only to men, leaving the lesbians out.

Also, all gay people should be called "ex-heterosexual" or "ex-straight."

February 14, 2010 9:28 PM  
Anonymous Heheheheheee said...

I also use the word, "straight" for "ex-" gay or "ex-"homosexual.

Most sane people do.

Anonymous´insanity is getting to him again.

This is why you people are losing the fight, you ARE CRAZY!!!

February 14, 2010 10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talk about being crazy, "Anonymous"
What's your excuse?

February 14, 2010 10:34 PM  
Anonymous heheheee said...

Look! Another CRAZY PFOX letter to the editor of the Post:

"Dear Washington Post Editor,

Your Feb. 5 article [Potomac students get fliers saying therapy turns students straight] is misleading. Our flyer is not about therapy. Ex-gays are a diverse group and many have never undergone therapy. Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) is not a therapeutic organization.

Our flyer urged tolerance for sexual orientation, including former homosexuals. PFOX supports all individuals’ right to self-determination. Gay groups regularly distribute flyers to the students. Ex-gay organizations should have the same rights that gay groups currently enjoy. Anything less is sexual orientation discrimination.


Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays


PFOX continues to play the victim... just like the Nazis did in Nazi Germany against the Jews.

February 14, 2010 10:34 PM  
Anonymous Derrick said...

Americans still blame Bush for present economy.

February 14, 2010 11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and they don't think Obama has a clue how to fix it

February 14, 2010 11:56 PM  
Anonymous ha-ha said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

February 15, 2010 7:26 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

all gay people should be called "ex-heterosexual" or "ex-straight."

Why? Because you *think* everyone is "born straight?"

According to CRW's Michelle Turner, her cousin Steve was born gay.

Remember this?

Michelle Turner said "I will admit there could be a possibility" that in rare instances, people are born homosexual -- such as her cousin Steve.

"He's gay, and he's a great guy," she said. "He's a hairdresser. He's very artistic, very good at what he does, men's and women's hair. Fabulous decorator. And I remember playing together when we were young. . . . My brother was always into trucks and guns, knives and swords. . . . Steve was much quieter. He was much happier hanging out with the girls."

Yes homosexuality is rare, but Michelle's cousin Steve is far from being the only gay man who as a young boy was "much quieter" and "much happier hanging out with the girls" than playing with other boys with their toy trucks and weapons.

February 15, 2010 8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why then do all you TTF people continue to be so hateful and intolerant towards former homosexuals? How do they harm you? We all need to live by the “Golden Rule”, don’t you think? Maybe the schools should have a class on how to be tolerant of former homosexuals.

February 15, 2010 9:32 AM  
Anonymous Merle said...

Anon, nobody here has ever expressed any antipathy toward former homosexuals. PFOX is a fake, that's a different thing, PFOX is not a group of former homosexuals.


February 15, 2010 10:34 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

TTFers don't have records like this:

A joint investigation by the organization Truth Wins Out and the has revealed that the spokesperson for a New Jersey based national religious group seeking to ‘cure’ homosexuals is a convicted felon who has been hiding his past.

The leader of JONAH, Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality, Arthur Abba Goldberg, is now also serving as President of his Jersey City temple. He was sent to federal prison 20 years ago for a conspiracy to defraud the United States of America.

Additionally, Goldberg is presently the Executive Secretary of NARTH- the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. The group hopes to heal “unwanted homosexuality” through “therapeutic care.”

One more group he supervises is PATH- Positive Alternatives to Homosexuality- a coalition of religious, ministerial, and ex-gay groups promoting “non-gay alternatives to homosexual lifestyles.” He is their President.

Goldberg, who reinvented himself in 2000 as the founder of JONAH, was found guilty in 1989 of numerous felonies in multiple jurisdictions. The charges ranged from federal mail and wire fraud to conspiracy counts as a result of a bogus bond writing scheme.

Goldberg was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment in the Central District of California, which he served concurrently with a an Illinois sentence imposed at the same time. It was followed by five years of supervised probation and a $100,000 fine, eventually paid on November 24, 1999.

K. William O’Connor, the U.S. attorney who put him away, said at his sentencing that Goldberg was “a man who habitually took advantage of people who were economically dependent upon him; that he did not hesitate to lie or cheat or cover up to achieve his criminal aim. His greed has cause incalculable harm...”

Thanks to Amanda Hess at the City Paper, we know:

Estella Salvatierra, vice president, is a civil rights attorney and is not ex-gay. If Scott Strachan, the group’s secretary, is ex-gay, he’s not talking about it. Michelle Hoffman, the treasurer, once told the Montgomery County School Board that “I know many former homosexuals and am proud to call them my friends.” Peter Sprigg, a director, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and has publicly identified as everstraight. Retta Brown, a director, is not ex-gay. Robert Knight, a former director of Concerned Women for America, is not a woman and is not ex-gay. Barber, a director, works at Liberty University Law School and is not ex-gay. Quinlan, a director, is ex-gay.

If PFOX members truly are more than tolerant of gays like they claim to be and are actually the friends of gays as well as ex-gays, why are there no gay people serving as Officers or on the Board of Directors of their organization these days? Have any of PFOX's supposed "gay friends" ever served in leadership positions at PFOX?

February 15, 2010 1:47 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"Maybe the schools should have a class on how to be tolerant of former homosexuals."

Could you please define what you consider to be a “former homosexual?"

February 15, 2010 8:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe they should stop talking about homosexual and kick out the Homosexual-Straight Clubs

February 15, 2010 8:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What on earth are you talking about? "Why then do all you TTF people continue to be so hateful and intolerant towards former homosexuals?"

Please tell us, very specifically, where TTF has ever shown any hatred towards "former homosexuals" (in other words, heterosexuals). When/where has there ever been any situation of intolerance against so-called "former homosexuals"?

Just exactly how many cases of this intolerance and hatred can you cite to support your bogus and ignorant views that homosexuals (but not heterosexuals, of course)can change their inherent sexuality?

The answer to that question is: NONE!

You cannot cite even one example of your claim that "ex-gays" suffer from intolerance or hatred. You have allowed yourself to be victimized by the propaganda put forth by PFOX.

Why don't you follow your own admonition to follow the Golden Rule for once in your life...and stop judging and trying to control the lives of other people?

February 16, 2010 1:36 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Michele engages in certain stereotypes. I myself played with toy trucks and competed in archery and riflery.

February 16, 2010 5:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When you rebuke and ridicule PFOX, you are rebuking and ridiculing ex-gays, as PFOX is the association of ex-gays.

February 16, 2010 8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually, when TTF says ex-gays don't exist, that is hostile to ex-gays

February 16, 2010 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

PFOX is not an association of ex-gays; it's an association of parents and others do not accept their lgbt relatives and friends.

February 16, 2010 8:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps, "Anonymous", you would be so kind as to address the question about exactly how many "ex-gays" (thousands? hundreds of thousands? millions? 20 or 32?) instead of avoiding the truth.

Who keeps these records? One of the "Family Values" groups?, your particular faith church, the ASPCA?, The Sons of Knute?, PFOX? When will the evidence be produced? Redundancy of lies does not make for truth.

The simple truth of the matter is that there are no "ex-gays"...just some individuals who are so confused and uncomfortable with their own sexual identity that they are victimized and made to feel shame and used by bogus groups like PFOX, who seek publicity and attention to advance their own hateful and fear-filled agenda of attacking GLBT people while promising "redemption" for those they identify as "ex-gays". posts are my own observations. Do not attempt to claim that they are the policy of Teach the Facts. Your statements, however, merely mouth and reiterate PFOX's shameful LIES. Are you a charter member - having a son or daughter of whom you are ashamed?


February 16, 2010 10:50 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"Why then do all you TTF people continue to be so hateful and intolerant towards former homosexuals? How do they harm you? We all need to live by the “Golden Rule”, don’t you think? Maybe the schools should have a class on how to be tolerant of former homosexuals."

Okay, I’ll ask it again.

Could you please describe for us what exactly you consider a “former homosexual” to be?

February 17, 2010 2:13 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Citizen: "Perhaps, "Anonymous", you would be so kind as to address the question about exactly how many "ex-gays" (thousands? hundreds of thousands? millions? 20 or 32?) instead of avoiding the truth."

According to PFOX, it’s in the millions:

"…reliable studies found perhaps 3 percent practicing "gays." Twice as many are ex-gays!"

So, the U.S. has about 300 million citizens. 3 percent of 300 million equals 9 million (“practicing gays”). If twice as many are “ex-gays,” then according to PFOX, there are a whopping 18 million “ex-gay” Americans who live and breathe among us.

Given the pandemic of discrimination that they so arduously face, at 18 million, you’d think there’d be a bit more clamor.
Anon: "Why then do all you TTF people continue to be so hateful and intolerant towards former homosexuals? How do they harm you?"

Besides the less than a handful of ex-gays I have befriended over the years that have not been ANTI-gay (unlike the leaders of organizations like Exodus International and PFOX), “Ex-gay” isn’t the problem, to each his own, aka the Golden Rule. But when you, or your organization, goes out of its way to lobby against me---especially through deception--- then it’s evidence of a decidedly anti-gay agenda, and NOT about some supercilious charge that we evil gay activists won’t leave them alone.

The very terms “ex-gay,” “former homosexual,” “change is possible” etc., are deceptive, because they very blatantly imply that gays can become straight--which implies that same-sex attraction is a choice, which the anti-gay industry then uses---in the public eye---to justify their war on gays.

When pressed, even the president and VP of Exodus International will admit that all it comes down to is getting "saved," and deciding that same-gender attraction is “sinful.”

When they acknowledge their continuing same-gender attractions, they call it “temptation.” Code for; I’m still gay.

So to suggest that "…the schools should have a class on how to be tolerant of former homosexuals," is to suggest that we tolerate their intolerance.

Is this what you propose?

February 17, 2010 5:21 AM  

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