chapter  15
24 Pages

"It's a Phase"

A Narra t ives of Conversion s we have seen, the word "conversion" seems to recur with great f requenq to describe changes, or supposed changes, in people's sexual orientation. The word, recalling Paul's experience on the road to Damascus, calls up something that happens when one is already on a road, producing an inner change of direction, a reorientation, a turn. As Freud memorably put it, "In general, to undertake to conziert a fullv developed homosexual into a heterosexual does not offer much more prospect of success than the reverse, except that for good practical reasons the latter is never attempted."' And in the film Lianna, Lianna's chronically unfaithful husband tells her that whether or not she gets custody of the children depends on "whether you're a true convert to the fold." As this last example will illustrate, conversion sometimes carries with it the implication of indoctrination or membership in a cult-that is, if the "faith" or "fold" to which one is said to have been converted is anathema to the observer. For Freud's "good practical reasons," this is less likely to be the case with "converts" to heterosexuality than with "converts" to lesbianism or homosexuality.