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Towards a Quaker View of Sex (1963) - Transcribed by Mitchell Santine Gould, curator, LeavesOfGrass.Org



The task of taking a fresh look at homosexuality is not one which is undertaken with alacrity. That is because homosexuality conjures up more passion and prejudice than possibly any other subject than that of colour. The two attitudes have much in common: it is the fear and ignorance behind them that give them their venom. The Southerner expects to lose his standards and daughters in a coffee-coloured society: the respectable suppose that, once homo­sexuality is “allowed”, their sons will think of nothing else. This is all very curious; and before anything more useful or positive can be said we think it best to clear the ground.

Ground Clearance

The word “homosexuality” does not denote a course of conduct, but a state of affairs, the state of loving your own, not the opposite sex; it is a state of affairs in nature. One should no more deplore “homosexuality” than left-handedness. (One can condemn or pro­hibit acts of course; that is another matter. But one cannot con­demn or prohibit homosexuality, as such.)

Secondly, the label of “homosexuality” is misleading. People are not either homosexual or heterosexual. Most people are predomin­antly one or the other; most in fact are predominantly heterosexual; many are predominantly homosexual; many are attracted to both sexes fairly equally and may be pushed one way or the other by circumstances, convenience, and social pressure. Before we assume that homosexuality is bad and heterosexuality is good, we should recognise that homosexuals are no more necessarily promiscuous than heterosexuals are necessarily chaste. They may be similar people (or even, it will be realised, the same person) and have similar moral values. But of course, where a heterosexual finds blessing in marriage, a homosexual cannot; and many of the pressures designed to hold lovers of the opposite sex together have the effect of tearing lovers of the same sex apart; it is hardly surprising then that most homosexual affairs (at least amongst men) are less durable than most heterosexual affairs.

Male Homosexuality

This section is concerned with that part of the male population to whom a happy sexual relationship with a woman is not possible. To these, homosexuality is natural; persecution will make them inhibited, mad, or suicidal, but it will not make heterosexuality any more natural for them, or increase the attractiveness of those who try and force them into it.

A homosexual orientation, as has been said previously, is actually usual among boys in the 11-17-year-old group, and may frequently find physical expression in such acts as mutual masturbation, more especially in all-male institutions. Many boys have countless rather