Homosexuals, when asked, invariably report that their sexuality developed naturally, independent of any choice they could have made. This is endorsed
by the best scientific opinion, which suggests that our sexuality is, indeed, something we are born with, or else acquire very early in life, once and
for all, unchangeably.
This is, of course, very different from the traditional view of homosexuality as a sin or crime, and, moreover, a sin or crime of choice.
Nowadays it is generally agreed that there is no scientific support for the traditional view; it derives whatever legitimacy it has from folk culture,
religious prohibition and homophobia, which is both the fear of homosexuals and, crucially, the fear of being oneself a homosexual.
Yet once upon a time, the idea that gayness was a choice and that homosexuality could be cured had support from two of the weightiest scientific names
in popular culture: William Masters and Virginia Johnson.
Or possibly, only from one of them... and therein lies a tale.
In 1979, Masters and Johnson published Homosexuality in Perspective
, ostensibly the results of a 14-year study of 300 homosexuals, including
some who expressed 'dissatisfaction' with their 'condition' and who, following a course of 'therapy', were 'cured' of their condition.
The results of the study were certainly a one-off. And now it looks as if it may have been faked. In fact, nobody seems to have known about the study
except Masters - Johnson, his wife, was not involved and recently distanced herself from it, even suggesting that the whole thing had been
There's more information in this short Scientific American
which suggests the entire study may have been a fabrication.
Was it? Did the mighty Masters fake his results? And if he did, how trustworthy can the rest of his work be?
It has a towering reputation. Many people still refer to Masters and Johnson as the gold standard of sex research. Is that reputation now compromised?
And if it is, where does that leave most of the popular 'knowledge' concerning sex and sexuality that permeates our culture - and is largely derived
from their magnum opus
of all things venereal, Human Sexual Response