Thursday, September 6, 2007

What is Homosexual Imprinting?

From the intial posting of what Straight Guise is all about, I talked about how Homosexual Imprinting which is when a male has been sexually abused by another male and acts out homosexually.

The fundamental principle here is that he is reenacting his sexual abuse, not expressing a homosexual identity.

In other words the behavior is homosexual in that it is male on male. However, the sexually abused male is heterosexual. Reparative therapies would lead you to believe that there is "not such thing as homosexuality" and that all homosexual expression is an "acting out".

This is false.

There are men who behave homosexually and are truly gay--romantically, affectinally, spiritually, sexually and psychologically.

Homosexually imprinted men are straight men whose homosexual expression is about behavioral acting out from original trauma.


By mapping I mean that one’s love and sexual preference map are determined early on in childhood. It is how we learn how to love. We observe and absorb how others love or neglect or abuse us and that becomes our “love map” according to John Money, a pioneer in the field of sexology.

This map becomes a template for what you seek out for pleasure in your adulthood.

Early in childhood, we’re all imprinted with family beliefs and societal norms. Imprinting is the psychological process by which specific types of behavior are locked in, at an early stage of development. All of us, gay and straight alike, are conditioned to think, feel, and act the way our early childhood caretakers nurture and teach us.

The first important thing to consider is this doesn’t mean the client is gay or even bi. He is simply left with an imprint to re-enact his homosexual abuse and find “pleasure” in what was inflicted on him as a child. In reality, this isn’t pleasure at all, but trauma turned into orgasm.

In the book, Male Victims of Same-Sex Abuse: Addressing Their Sexual Response by John M. Preble and A. Nicholas Groth they say it best:

“……this may actually reflect an effort at mastery of the traumatic event …..when he was being sexually victimized, someone else was in control of him sexually. During masturbation he is literally in control of himself sexually, and this may be a way in which he attempts to reclaim mastery over his own sexuality. Likewise, his participation in consensual sex reflects his choice and decision.”

The authors go on to say that “the fantasy thoughts are prompted by fear more than desire, by anxiety more than pleasure”. In other words, they become a way of managing the fear and anxiety.

Second, just because the sexual abuse was committed by a male doesn’t mean that it constituted homosexuality. When men sexually abuse girls, we don’t claim it’s about heterosexuality! We say it is simply sexual abuse—which involves power, violation and rape. Nothing about that is related to orientation.

For more information on male survivors of sexual abuse go to


Steve Boese said...

I'm not well-acquainted with John Money's work apart from what I read in the Colapinto book about David Reimer. The book left the distinct impression that Money believed that parents could choose to imprint a female gender identity on a boy whose penis had been mutilated as a baby.

I'd be interested in hearing broader context about Money's career. Has his body work in sexology generally been well-received and respected? How has the field of sexology been impacted by the Reimer case?

Joe Kort said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve said...

Thanks, Joe...

The portrait painted by Colapinto was damning, and yet it's not unusual to find that some of the best brains we've known have taken well-intended but wrong turns at times.

It makes sense to me that early abuse infuses itself within the psycho/sexual makeup, as does the overall care and nurture received.

The intriguing thing to me about imprinting is that, at least in some environments, the care received may be impacted by the nature of the child. Parents may respond differently to a rough-and-tumble 2-to-3 year old boy than they do to one who is introspective or perceived to be effeminate.

That's largely a separate issue from your core point about being imprinted by abuse.

Aaron said...

Thank you for talking about this. I'm a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who disclosed and started therapy about a year ago.

I think it's very helpful for this to be discussed openly. I lived with the impact of sexual abuse for over 35 years, but am now well along in my healing journey. And that includes gaining clarity about my sexual orientation as well as understanding past sexual behavior that never seemed to "fit."