CMDA's The Point

Top Ten Myths of the Sexual Revolution: Part 4

February 22, 2023
GINGER AND ROSA by Sally Potter

by Steven Willing, MD

Continuing our series on the Top Ten Myths of the Sexual Revolution, we now come to the contentious issue of homosexuality, or, if you prefer, same-sex attraction. This is a highly sensitive subject, and for better or worse, LGBTQ issues have consumed most of the “oxygen” over the last 30 years. For whatever reason—and there are probably many—this has garnered much more attention than the sexual behavior of the overwhelming majority. In this series, I have attempted to present a more balanced perspective; whether I have succeeded is for the reader to decide.


Myth 9: “There is no meaningful difference between homosexuality and heterosexuality.” 


What do we mean here? 


We mean the narrative that they’re socially, biologically and morally equivalent, like height, hair color or right versus left-handedness. Even something to be celebrated, as with every news release about someone “coming out” or the first gay fill-in-the-blank.


Now, it’s hard to know how many people seriously believe this—probably a lot. I think it’s fair to say it’s a foundational assumption in Western pop culture.


Considering that homosexuals are regularly portrayed as helpless and powerless victims—and they have at times been badly treated—there’s a lot of sympathy going in their direction. Many people really want it to be true. 


I’m going to pass on the moral judgments. What are the basic differences from a social, medical and biological standpoint? 


To be clear, even though we lump them in the same category, there are big differences between male and female homosexuality: in psychology, plasticity and sexual practices. Mostly, I’m just going to talk about male homosexuality. 


To begin with, it’s pretty obvious male homosexuals do not engage in what could be considered safe and healthy physiologic sexual intercourse. The chosen alternative is fundamentally dangerous from a medical standpoint. The rectal wall is much thinner and less elastic, lacks the immune defenses of a woman’s vagina, harbors dangerous pathogens and ends in a sphincter which is essential to proper functioning but an impediment to misuse. (Some might interject that heterosexuals engage in the practice, too—and they are correct. It’s still dangerous).


This is one reason why a 2021 report from new Zealand published in the British Medical Journal found that relative to heterosexuals, gay and bisexual men faced a 57-fold increased risk of gonorrhea, a 163-fold increased risk of syphilis and a 348-fold increased risk of HIV/AIDS.


But another contributing factor to the much higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases is that gay men have more partners than their heterosexual counterparts. Often, many more.

In a 2014 survey from the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture, only 11 percent of heterosexual men report more than 20 lifetime partners, compared to 45 percent of gay men. At the upper extreme, only 3 percent of heterosexual men report greater than 50 lifetime partners, but this rockets to 30 percent of gay men. (This behavior was the chief driver of last summer’s monkeypox epidemic). At the low end of the range, a supermajority (74 percent) of heterosexual men reported less than 10 lifetime partners, but only 34 percent of gay men. 

Now, it would be premature to infer from this that homosexuals have a higher sex drive or are lower in self-control. Actually, this discrepancy would be predicted according to the principles of sexual economics advanced by Baumeister and Regnerus. While in heterosexual encounters, females act as gatekeepers, in male-to-male relationships, the gatekeeper is effectively eliminated. There’s also a strong cultural component. During the AIDS epidemic, levels of promiscuity dropped precipitously, but in recent decades it has rebounded within the gay population, according to a 2019 paper from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 


Another fundamental difference is that same-sex relationships are incapable of bringing new little humans into existence. Sure, there are workarounds, but this is done for the benefit of the adults, certainly not the children. No child should be purposefully brought into this world knowing the child will never know either a mother or a father, but it’s happening through artificial insemination or surrogacy. Katy Faust discusses this at length and has collected numerous heartbreaking stories of kids raised in these situations. 


It’s well known that within the gay population, both male and female, there are much higher rates of depression, drug addiction, abuse and suicide. The simplest explanation would be that it’s just a naturally unhealthy state, and these are what we in the medical community would call “comorbidities.” 


However, there’s a competing hypothesis that blames society and those who don’t accept it. This is called the “minority stress theory” and, of course, is popular among those who want to deny any basic difference. This theory has been vigorously challenged. It’s certainly possible that stress might be a contributing factor, but there is no way it can explain all the differences, and it is much too simplistic. One of the most consistent principles in human psychology is that nothing ever reduces to one simple cause. 


In nearly all studies, claims of discrimination are based on self-reporting or the subject’s perception. There may be good reason to question that perception. A large study and meta-analysis from 2020 found that homosexual men consistently scored higher than heterosexual men in the “Big Five” core trait of neuroticism. Two years later, a study reported in Archives of Sexual Behavior found that—compared to actual victimization—neuroticism was the “more powerful factor” contributing to the diminished psychological well-being and increase in self-harm. In simple terms, this implies they are more likely to frame routine encounters as discrimination or abuse or to feel persecuted in the absence of external forces. 


Everyone acknowledges the rate of mental illness and self-harm is much higher among same-sex-attracted populations. The “no meaningful difference” myth must attribute this psychopathology to extrinsic forces, hence the “minority stress theory.” Evidence to date indicates something much more deeply rooted in that orientation.


The differences between homosexuality and heterosexuality seem quite meaningful indeed.


In the next and final installment of this series, we will consider Myth 10: “That’s just the way God made me.”


About Steven Willing, MD

Dr. Steven Willing received his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia, completed an internship in pediatrics from the University of Virginia before undertaking a residency in diagnostic radiology at the Medical College of Georgia, followed by a fellowship in neuroradiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Willing spent 20 years in academic medicine at the University of Louisville, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). He also earned an MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1997. During his academic career, Dr. Willing published more than 50 papers in the areas of radiology, informatics and management. He is currently a consultant in radiology at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya, a visiting scholar with Reasons to Believe and an Adjunct Professor of Divinity at Regent University. His personal blog on science apologetics, “The Soggy Spaniel,” may be found at

Leave a Comment