Arthur Silber works up more anger than I can manage over the Volokh Conspiracy debate on homosexual “conversion,” but his basic points strike me as right on. The core problem here is that Eugene is ultimately making a pretty trivial point, but framing it in the context of rebutting the idea that it’s a “myth” that gay people try to “convert” or “recruit” more gay people.
Eugene points out that if someone has a pre-existing same-sex attraction, gay friends or acquaintances may try to get them to act on those impulses if they haven’t before. OK, obviously that happens. Except Eugene unhelpfully refers to this as “conversion to homosexual behavior” and considers it a counterexample to the idea that “homosexual conversion” is a myth. Well, first, the problem (as Arthur observes) is that that’s not the myth. The relevant “myth” people are talking about is the idea that gays are going to try to mysteriously implant homosexual impulses in your dear sweet 12-year-old. And that’s a sufficiently pernicious myth that Eugene’s way of talking is signally unhelpful, infosfar as anyone might read it as giving credence to that notion.
That aside, this is a truly bizarre notion of “conversion,” insofar as he’s talking about getting people to act on an impulse or attraction presumed to already be there. Imagine some young guy has his eyes on a female college student who, as it happens, is not only a virgin, but has never really dated a man before, though she’s always been attracted to men. He hopes to convince her to go out with him and (eventually) sleep with him. Does anyone think “conversion to heterosexual behavior” would be a particularly apt way to describe what’s going on there?