Gay Myths - A Catholic Psychologist Examines the Data

drtimlock_150By Dr Timothy Lock, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, Brookfield, CT., USA.

Summarised by Marie Mason, BEd., Coordinator of Courage and EnCourage Melbourne, and Brendan Triffett, doctoral candidate in philosophy (UTas).

The American Psychological Association has permitted political correctness to triumph over science, clinical knowledge and professional integrity. The public can no longer trust organized psychology to speak from evidence rather than from what it regards to be politically correct. Nicholas Cummings, PhD, past president, APA, Destructive Trends in Mental Health (2005).

In conjunction with  “Theology in the Pub”, Marie and Alan Mason and the members of Courage and EnCourage Melbourne hosted a public talk given by distinguished US Catholic psychologist Dr Timothy Lock, at Cardinal Knox Centre and Campion House Kew, 27 – 28 October 2009.

Dr Lock exposed nine gay myths, citing scientific research. It was refreshing to hear the misinformation put out by the media and gay lobby to be false—and dangerous, especially to vulnerable people with unwanted SSA.


This is a ministry in the Catholic Church for individuals with same-sex attraction (SSA). It consists of

  1. Courage Groups for those with SSA,
  2. EnCourage groups for families and friends of those with SSA, and
  3. Courage reparation (prayer) groups for everyone (see end for contacts).

"Courage as such does not seek to change sexual orientation, it promotes chastity. Sometimes people in Courage seek out change. Courage supports their quest, but it does not intervene itself to bring about change in orientation".

1st Myth: Gay persons are born that way (there is a gay gene).

Dr Francis S. Collins MD, PhD, a leading scientist in DNA research commented (Collins, 2006), “There is an inescapable component of heritability to many behavioural traits—however, for virtually none of them is heredity even close to predictive” (p. 263). For example, twin studies show that the likelihood of the identical twin of a homosexual male also being homosexual is about 20% (Aust. Twin Registry shows 11%), indicating that the role of genes is a predisposition to homosexuality, not a predetermination.

Collins, Francis S. (2006). The Language of God, A Scientist Presents Evidence For Belief New York: Free Press.

2nd Myth: Once gay, always gay.

Sexual orientation can actually change. First, there is “change without intervention”. Most change occurs outside therapy. Second, there is “change with active intervention”, through spiritual healing and psychotherapy. (Spitzer, 2003).

Spitzer, R.L. (2003).
Can Some Gay Men and Lesbians Change Their Sexual Orientation?
200 Participants Reporting a Change from Homosexual to Heterosexual Orientation1
Can Some Gay Men and Lesbians Change Their Sexual Orientation?
200 Participants Reporting a Change from Homosexual to Heterosexual Orientation.
Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 32 (5), pp. 403-417.

3rd Myth: 10% of the general population is gay.

The fact is that only 2 – 3% are homosexually inclined.

Country, year of publication No. of people surveyed SSA Total (including BSA) Male SSA Female SSA Male BSA Female BSA
Australia, 2008 8205 2.10% 1.03% 0.66% 1.23% 1.26%
Canada, 2008 346,000 1.90% 1.40% 0.80% 0.70% 0.90%
Netherlands, 1999 5898 2.10% Not available Not available Not available Not available

BSA=Bisexual attraction.

Table 1. A summary of research on the prevalence of SSA. 

Australia study: Dr. Julia Shelley of Deakin University in Melbourne March 19, 2008 (

Canada study: Canadian Community Health Survey for adults aged 18 to 59 2003 and 2005 (lifesitenews, 3/20/08)

Netherlands study: Sandfort T G, de Graaf, R, Bijl, R V, & Schnabelet P. Same-sex sexual behavior and psychiatric disorders: findings from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study (NEMESIS). Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2001; 58 :85-91

"The myth gained credence from Alfred Kinsey who made conclusions regarding 'normal' human sexual behaviour based on his findings from selected groups of individuals, for example, prisoners. If you want to learn about 'normal' sexual behaviour, however, you don't ask prisoners, or any other closed or narrow sampling, ; you obtain a random sample of the whole population (something Kinsey didn't do)."

4th Myth: In terms of psychological and emotional health, the gay person is identical to the heterosexual person.

In fact, homosexual persons suffer about 66% more psychological and emotional ill-health than do heterosexuals.

  • A survey by Ferguson, D M , et al. (2005) (Fergusson, D M, et al. (2005) Sexual orientation of and mental health in a birth cohort of young adults. Psychological Medicine,35, 971-981.)

Of adults ages 21 – 26 found contrasts between the rates of various signs of mental illness in homosexual versus heterosexual individuals. Major depression was found in 71.4 % of homosexuals and only 14.5% of heterosexuals. The contrast for suicidal ideation was 70% and 10.9% (for homo- and heterosexuals, respectively). For suicidal acts the contrast was 28% to 1.6%, for illicit drug dependence it was 42.9% to 11.1%.

Sandfort T G, et al. (2001) (Sandfort T G, de Graaf, R, Bijl, R V, & Schnabelet P. Same-sex sexual behavior and psychiatric disorders: findings from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study (NEMESIS). Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2001; 58 :85-91)

  • studied the “lifetime prevalence of psychiatric disorders in homosexuals versus heterosexuals” in 5,998 adults. It was found that those with SSA are 3 times more likely to have mood disorders, 2.5 times more likely to show anxiety disorders, 3 times more likely to have a depressive disorder, and 2.5 times more likely to have multiple disorders. A significantly lower self-esteem was associated with homosexual men.

    Other studies ( e.g. Cochran SD, et al. (2003) Prevalence of mental disorders, psychological distress, and mental health services use among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults in the United States. J Consult Clin Psychol;71(1):53-61)

found similar results.

5th Myth: Psychopathology amongst the gay population is due to cultural intolerance.

Studies (e.g. Sandfort TG, de Graaf, R, Bijl, R. V., & Schnabelet P. Same-sex sexual behavior and psychiatric disorders: findings from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study (NEMESIS). Arch Gen Psychiatry 2001; 58 :85-91)

from gay-tolerant cultures such as those in the Netherlands, show the same findings of increased depression, anxiety, suicidality and so on in homosexuals compared with heterosexuals. Psychopathology cannot then be explained simply by a “homophobic” culture.

6th Myth: “Gay” is the same as “homosexual”.

“Gay” is a socio-political term. A homosexual who is not sexually active is called “an individual with same-sex attraction (or SSA)” as they choose to live a chaste lifestyle.

7th Myth: Some animals are homosexual, and therefore homosexuality is natural.

However, homosexual activity in animals is anomalous, only occurring in times of extreme stress or in unnatural conditions. In any case (one might add), the specific dignity of the human person means that the behaviour of animals is an inappropriate guide for human behaviour.

8th Myth: All cultures throughout history have accepted homosexuality.

This is false: before modern times, no culture has ever elevated homosexuality to the same dignity or level as heterosexuality, as is happening today. One hesitates even to use the term “heterosexuality”, which might imply that this is just one option or variation in sexuality. The embracing of homosexuality and “gay marriage” and “gay adoption” as equivalent to traditional structures of marriage and family is an unprecedented social experiment.
(, 11:38 pm, 1/3/2010)

9th Myth: Gay men have long term monogamous relationships too.

In fact, 93 to 100% of gay male couples behave with infidelity, as opposed to 25% in heterosexual couples! (Bell, A. and Weinberg, M. Homosexualities: A Study in Diversity Among Men and Women (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), 308, 309.
McWhirter and Mattison, A., The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1984), 252-253.)

Psychological Factors

Dr Lock also referred to the ground-breaking research (Nicolosi, J. (2009). Shame and Attachment Loss Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove: Illinois, USA) and therapeutic work of US Psychologist, Dr Joseph Nicolosi, PhD, who is a world-eminent authority on SSA. Briefly, factors in the development of SSA in men are mainly: child conflict with mother and father, the wound of peer rejection (often associated with inadequacy when it comes to sport), sexual abuse, poor body image, the failure of the parents to encourage same-sex identification and support gender identity, and parental loss. For women, these are: conflict with mother and father, peer rejection wound, sexual abuse, poor body image, male betrayal and extreme loneliness.

Pastoral Response

Finally, Dr Lock gave positive guidelines for pastoral support. Individuals with SSA are encouraged to find healing intimacy with God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to get to know Our Lady and the Saints, to meditate on Scripture, to pray the Rosary daily, to adore our Lord in the Eucharist, etc do not use etc state in full. Support groups are vital.  Etc is used somewhere else in these pages. Do not use etc, space is not an issue make statement in full

For friends and family of those with SSA, Dr Lock above all recommended being “a father to the fatherless”, to have respect and a listening ear (without compromising truth). He exhorted all to live chastely (especially to give up viewing pornography, which is becoming epidemic). As well as educating oneself by visiting and, one should provide needy people with the Courage and Encourage pamphlets and contacts, and recommend psychological help from Catholic practitioners specialising in unwanted SSA, including therapy via internet/skype, for example, Dr Nicolosi (see below).

In closing, Dr Lock repeated the poignant words of St Francis de Sales. “When fruits are whole and sound they can be preserved [in various ways]. Once damaged, they are almost impossible to keep except when preserved in honey and sugar. In like manner, when chastity has not been harmed or violated it can be kept safe in various ways. Once broken, nothing can preserve it except extraordinary devotion, which is the true honey and sugar of the spirit” (Introduction to the Devout Life, 157). He exhorted all to practise "extraordinary devotion in our walk with the Lord".

Contacts for Courage

Slides from presentation (including research data) taken from and