Slay It With a Smile

Paul Cameron's mission to stop homosexuality is hard to swallow

"Just about everybody from the conservative point of view had absented themselves," he says, "and the Kinsey people were winning with lousy data."

Then he plunged into the Lincoln gay-rights controversy. "Appalled" at people's ignorance of homosexuality, he founded his institute on sexuality in 1982. It was a tough go. "People are very interested in sex when it comes to opening a magazine," he says, "but it's difficult to get funding for reasonable research."

Nevertheless, he became immersed in the subject. And he insists his fascination had nothing to do with his own sexual experiences, even the molestations. "That was not a motivation," he says. "Neither event influenced any of my research interests." In fact, says Cameron, he doesn't think he was particularly traumatized by either molestation. "I can't remember that they had any long-term effect."

He was influenced, however, by his religious beliefs: He acknowledges that it is fair to consider him part of the religious right. And fundamentalist Christians are trained to believe that homosexuality is an abomination.

All researchers bring preconceptions and values to their work, he says. His own notions, he adds, were strengthened by his research. Much of that wound up in Psychological Reports, a journal that includes a pastiche of studies--some valuable, some not--that are not subjected to so-called peer review. At the time Cameron first started paying for the right to have his studies published in the journal, they appeared alongside other social scientists' research on such subjects as the effects of electric shocks on goldfish (they didn't appear to like it) and the correlation between waterbed use and sexual satisfaction (some participants in that experiment got seasick).

A citation is a citation, however, and Cameron began to build a long list of published studies in that and other journals. His research was confirming what he says he already had a "hunch" about.

"The practice of having sex with one's own sex changes a person," he contends, although the mechanics of such a transformation still aren't completely clear to him. "It turns them into a less desirable, less productive, maybe even more malevolent person."

The emergence of AIDS in the Eighties brought fears of homosexuality to the fore, and Cameron gathered details on diseases and sexual practices such as fisting and rimming from such sources as studies of prisoners and people who frequented health clinics. When critics blast him for drawing conclusions about the sexual practices of all gay people from the populations he has studied, Cameron calmly defends his research as "falling within the parameters" of other scientists' work.

The general fear of AIDS helped propel Cameron's career. A version of the anti-gay-rights video The Gay Agenda featured his statistics as background to images of demented killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Some fundamentalist Christian activists at least express sympathy for those with AIDS by paying lip service to the concept of "hating the sin but loving the sinner." Cameron will have no truck with it.

"Demonize the virus and forget about the carrier? Can't do that," he says. "The real issue is not HIV, per se. It's homosexuality. If a person is a thief and spends time thieving, eventually he thinks of himself as a thief. A much larger proportion of women who are bisexual or lesbian admit to cheating on their income tax or thieving."

Homosexuality makes a person sleazy, according to Cameron. Asked whether it's possible that some people are sleazy before getting into homosexuality, he replies, "Could be. But what you do is what you become."

His explanation of this involves a detailed look at oral sex. Not surprisingly, he starts off with an aside on unsanitary behavior.

"Just imagine a girl, a beautiful girl, regurgitating, and then she wants to give you a blowjob," says Cameron. "Practically no man would be interested." It would be disgusting, he adds, but there's still a big difference between heterosexual blowjobs and homosexual blowjobs.

"There are groups of young men who get $50 for a blowjob, just being the passive partner," he says. "And a substantial proportion of kids eventually get converted." He pauses to note, "Of course, if they hadn't ever gotten into it, they'd be trying to plow girls, and they would be leaving a string of unwanted pregnancies."

But teen pregnancies don't pose the life-changing threat that homosexuality does, he says. "Most men would be unable to be stimulated by a man--their penises would shrink," he says. "I've talked to some of these boys. They pretend to be fellated by a woman. At some point, though, they stop thinking about Playboy and start thinking, 'This guy's got good technique,' and they become changed.

"It's just like eating habits. I don't think anyone is born loving to eat snails. But you eat enough of them, you begin to like it."

In Cameron's view, that's why monogamous homosexual relationships are even more harmful than homosexual promiscuity: A strong commitment to homosexuality leads people into deviant behavior and risk-taking in other parts of their lives. The closer a person's relationship with his homosexuality, Cameron believes, the worse off he or she is. And Cameron says he's determined to prove it.

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