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Are you a 'practicing homosexual?' The NYT thinks so.

Mike Signorile has a post up at his blog about the NYT’s use of the term “homosexual” instead of “gay” or “lesbian,” which John Aravosis blogged about last week.

I guess the Times wanted to put the icing on the cake today in an editorial that refers to “practicing homosexuals” in a reference to the work of homophobic Surgeon General James Holsinger. Read after the jump.

His strongest statement on homosexuality can be found in a murky, loosely reasoned paper that he wrote for a church committee in 1991. Titled “Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality,” the paper purported to be a scientific and medical review. It argued that gay sex was abnormal on anatomical and physiological grounds and unhealthy, in that anal sex can lead to rectal injuries and sexually transmitted diseases. Dr. Holsinger did not brand the large number of heterosexual women who engage in anal sex as abnormal, failed to acknowledge the huge burden of disease spread heterosexually and implied that women are more likely than men to avoid injuries with generous lubrication.

The Bush administration says the white paper reflected the scientific understanding of the time, but it reads like a veneer of science cloaking an aversion to homosexuality. The committee should examine whether Dr. Holsinger cherry-picked the literature or represented it objectively. Most important, it must determine whether Dr. Holsinger holds these benighted views today. The Senate should not confirm a surgeon general who considers practicing homosexuals abnormal and diseased.

What, pray tell, are heterosexuals doing when they fornicate — “practicing heterosexuality?” Mike:

While the usage of the term, in a limited (often clinical or scientific) manner could be argued, there is ABSOLUTELY NO justification for the Times using the term “practicing homosexuals” in today’s editorial, as the final, emphatic note of the piece, no less.

Let’s all write the Times and let them know that we are not a coven of witches “practicing” our craft. Nor are we a group of kids “practicing” our playing of musical instruments, or “practicing” gymnastics or “practicing” French! And we are not lawyers, doctors or accountants, who decide to hang out a shingle when we want to “practice.” All of these are religious beliefs, learned activities, and business professions. The implication is: “Homosexuals” are “practicing” their cultish, acquired, and/or often for-sale (those gay hustlers!) sexual “practices” while heterosexuals, of course, are doing something much more, well, natural and about love or whatever.

Just by using that term, the editorial undermines the very point it is trying to make.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding