Relationships in a World of Individualism

  • rWorld

    The rWorld is about more than Dale Kuehne's book Sex and the iWorld.
    The rWorld is a New England based, non-profit (in formation), that is composed of a growing number of people and organizations from many faith and ideological backgrounds worldwide. We believe that much of the fulfillment for which women and men are looking can be found by enhancing the quality of our relationships. While the individual freedom we enjoy in the West is a gift, the love and intimacy for which humans yearn will not be found in self-serving materialism or hedonism, but in a variety of healthy relationships.

    Contact us if you'd like get involved:

  • Dale Kuehne

    Sex & the iWorld

    Professor of Politics and The Richard L. Bready Chair for Ethics, Economics, and the Common Good at Saint Anselm College, Manchester, NH.

    In this blog I'm highlighting signposts of the world in which we presently reside as a means of helping promote a civil, and meaningful dialogue about what kind of world in which we wish to live. I am particularly interested in exploring how might we reconcile the individual good and the common good, and where reconciliation isn’t possible, which should take precedence and why.

    I also blog at

    [Content Caution]

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Can You See the Real Me?

Posted by Dale Kuehne on March 8, 2010

Coming out in Middle School”>

Can you see the real me preacher?
Can you see the real me doctor?
Can you see the real me mother?
Can you see the real me?

The Real Me, by Pete Townshend (The Who), from their 1973 album Quadrophenia


6 Responses to “Can You See the Real Me?”

  1. Lauren Fithian said

    Thank you so much for posting this article. It is actually fairly upbeat and hopeful in its presentation. Real teenage humans relating their real teenage human experiences. These are gay and bisexual teens telling us that they have the same kinds of needs, desires, fears, joys, and sorrows surrounding their sexuality as their straight classmates. As the article makes clear: some become “sexualized” at an early age and some do not act on their sexuality until much later–just like their straight classmates. To attach the words “lifestyle choice” to these gay teens is absurd. We need to keep listening to all young people-gay and straight–tell us about their lives.

  2. Well, I wouldn’t fall off the other side of the horse either. Political claims to the contrary, there are no identified genetic or environmental causes which make homosexuality an unavoidable choice (prenatal influences may be the strongest). Adults reporting retrospectively about anything – shyness, depression, tomboyishness, honesty – have an embarrassingly low level of accuracy compared to objective reports from their past. Yet they remain absolutely convinced that they were such-and-such a way as a child, because of retrospective bias. What did happen we come to believe was inevitable. Homosexuals are no worse than the rest of us on this score, but neither are they better, despite their insistence otherwise. Their confidence that they were gay from earliest ages is only subjective evidence. Serious contemplation of the spectrum of bisexuality, though that is itself a statistical minority, should make clear that there are not irrevocable genes or experiences either way. Additionally, boys who were sexually molested are more likely to report homosexual drives as an adult. Not a given, but a factor. Homosexuality is multi-factorial.

    It is a terribly sad thing for a child to feel isolated and devalued for any reason, and responsible adults must first respond with kindness. But children first feel isolated, then go looking for the explanation why that must be. Because I’m an immigrant… because I’m a brain… because my family is poor…

  3. Lauren Fithian said

    The reason the young woman in this video feels isolated is that a misguided, narrow-minded school district says only straight students should be able to participate in one of high school’s rites of passage. As this young woman put it: “I just wanted to be myself.” We need to listen to her. It is a very sad commentary that we don’t.
    “Political claims to the contrary”?!!!!! It seems to me that all of the deep delving into the “causes” of homosexuality and a certain feeling of desperation to show that it is not a “choice” arose out of a need to counter intense bigotry and prejudice directed at gays. The fact that we humans have not yet come up with all of the scientific facts about homosexuality only means that we do not have all the facts. We still do not know what “causes” left-handedness. As a lefty I am quite interested in the history of negative attitudes and treatment toward left-handed people. Thankfully it’s mostly historical now. I have been left-handed since I was a child. Whatever the cause of my left-handedness it was not a choice. It was something my parents discovered about me early on.

    I remember being straight as a teenager. And yes–I’m “absolutely convinced” that I was that way as a child. Is that retrospective bias? I remember being left-handed too. I’m still straight and I’m still left-handed. That is the real me. I don’t understand what stake some straight people have in discounting the reality of gays. What is at stake? It seems like a lot of effort aimed at keeping a segment of the human population living in a kind of apartheid. Political indeed.
    “‘But they are sinners,’ I can hear the preachers and politicians say. ‘They are choosing a life of sin for which they must be punished.” My scientist and medical friends have shared with me a reality that so many gay people have confirmed, I now know it in my heart to be true. No one chooses to be gay. Sexual orientation, like skin color, is another feature of our diversity as a human family. Isn’t it amazing that we are all made in God’s image, and yet there is so much diversity among his people? Does God love his dark- or his light-skinned children less? The brave more than the timid? And does any of us know the mind of God so well that we can decide for him who is included, and who is excluded, from the circle of his love?” Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus, Cape Town, South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

  4. “It seems to me that all of the deep delving into the “causes” of homosexuality and a certain feeling of desperation to show that it is not a “choice” arose out of a need to counter intense bigotry and prejudice directed at gays.”

    Then it seems wrongly. Accusing others of prejudice as the reason behind their opinions is simple bigotry.

    I feel your energy, and your sense that some people are being unfairly maligned and discriminated against. That energy does not make a case you are right. In fact, that in itself suggests you are making a social and tribal judgment rather than an intellectual or moral one.

    You can make absolutely no case that I haven’t listened to the pain young gay people feel, or that I have arrived at my opinions because I am misguided and narrow-minded. If you try, my counterevidence is simply overwhelming. Nor can you make the case that I am some kind of exception, and most others who would be reluctant, or even opposed to gay prom partners do so out of prejudice.

    This is not a light matter. It is not mere wordplay. Because you have already decided, on some unknown grounds, that homosexuality is okay, you lash out quite viciously at other humans who disagree, concluding without evidence that they are terrible. And yet you will continue to see yourself, and those who agree with you in similar vituperative terms, as the nice people.

    I come out of your culture. I grew up in it.

    • SWL said

      Let’s try again!

      I think the point would be better taken this way: whether my church, or I, thinks the homosexual lifestyle is right or wrong is immaterial when it comes to isolating, belittling, or shunning students who feel they are. I don’t have to embrace an activity to respect the human being practicing it.

      In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. Mt. 7:12

      Many Christians are not mature enough to allow someone to simply be wrong without going further and judging them through ostracization, mockery, or worse, and this goes for differing sexual orientations, religious beliefs, societal positions, cultural traditions, musical tastes, etc…

      The Commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law. – Romans 13:9-10

      • I appreciate the kindly gesture, but I think you miss at least part of my point. One can only say that the isolating, belittling, or shunning students is wrong if we have decided that the students’ behavior is basically all right. We would not say that for bullies who wanted to be who they were, or sexual predators, or drug dealers. If one felt strongly that homosexuality was entirely proper, one might well isolate, belittle, or shun this school board.

        To be clear: my personal judgment would be to allow homosexual prom dates. On other matters of gay rights, such as serving as a deacon, I would be opposed. This leads into my second point. Is there no possible good reason for the school board to come to its conclusion? Is it impossible that they weighed various factors and came out with a different decision? Or is the only possible motive they could have is that they are narrow-minded?

        This is the great weakness of all the social justice movements, currently mostly on the left but not exclusively so: the people themselves. Too often they leap to conclusions about the motives of those who do not agree with them. They are quick to accuse that those others hate women, or hate immigrants, or are bigoted, or are just hypocrites about their faith, generosity, or patriotism. And as I mentioned to Lauren, it seems that the nice people are more likely, not less, to do this. Ironic, and more than a little frightening. Our entire national dialogue seems to be consumed with it, and the people who complain most about the contentiousness seem to be precisely those who perpetuate it via their own self-blindness.

        I often conclude that people have bad motives, on the basis of what they say or how they say it. But I do not assume from the start that those who disagree must do so from the vilest of motives. And when someone makes those accusations about a group, and I belong to that group, I take offense.

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