Robinson, David. “How a Gay Boy Became a Straight Man: My Story”. Independently Published, 2018.
I received a tip today that Amazon was still carrying anti-LGBT books and this was one if the titles. I immediately went to Amazon to see this book and found this notice:
“Effective July 2, 2018, this book has been rewritten, updated, and re-titled. Its new title is Orientation and Choice: One Man’s Sexual Journey.” However the remarks and reviews were still on the book’s Amazon page and the notice that the book is available exclusively on Amazon as is this plea: “Please buy the new title. Type the new title in the Search box. Thank you.”
Author-lawyer David Robinson, is now 66-years-old and admits that he had homosexual urges from ages 14 to 16. At 16 he had to choose: date girls or boys. He chose girls. It wasn’t always easy for him. Eventually he married a woman and is very happy with her. Then we have these questions: “Did his sexual orientation change from gay to straight? Or did he deceive himself? Does it matter? Is it possible to satisfy homosexual urges with heterosexual behavior? What, exactly, is the difference between homosexual and heterosexual urge?” This book is (as he says) and a look inside his sexual mind every step of the way from age 14 (1967) to today. He says, “that religion had nothing to do with it.” He tells about his college years (B.A. 1974, George Washington University) and law school years (J.D. 1977, Washington University in St. Louis). And then he says, “many people say sexual orientation isn’t a “choice.” But everyone must make a choice: date a male or female. David discusses laws banning conversion therapy. He tells about an impromptu conversion therapy session he experienced in a gym locker room when he was 15 or 16. Did the therapy work? Read his book and decide for yourself. It is a lively, true memoir. If you want to contact David, his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.” And he dares to give his email.
David A. Robinson is a lawyer in Connecticut. He was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1953. and practiced law in Springfield from 1977 to 2008. He was a general practitioner from 1977 to 1991. From 1992 to 2008, he practiced exclusively in the area of labor and employment law, usually on the side of the employer. In 2002 he became a resident of Connecticut. In 2006 he was admitted to the Connecticut Bar. He gradually closed his Massachusetts law practice and now practices in Connecticut. He was an adjunct professor at Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law from 1979 to 1982, WNEU School of Business from 2001-2005, and the University of New Haven (UNH) School of Business from 2005 to 2014. At UNH he taught business law, business ethics, human resource management, criminal justice procedure, and law of communications. He lives in the New Haven area with his wife.
Amazon tells authors, “The Author Page is your chance to tell readers something interesting about yourself.” Here are two interesting–not very interesting, but somewhat interesting–things about David. He is one of a small handful of people, and probably the youngest, alive today who attended a Beatles concert, an Elvis Presley concert, and a Frank Sinatra concert. A number of people alive today saw one or two of those legendary musical acts. David saw all three. He attended a Beatles concert in Boston in 1966, when he was 13 years old; a Sinatra concert in Washington, D.C. (actually, Landover, Maryland, a D.C. suburb) in 1974; and an Elvis concert in Springfield, Mass., in 1976. The other interesting thing about David is he is probably the youngest lawyer alive today whose name appears as counsel in published appellate cases (e.g., N.E.2d, F.3d) in each of five decades: 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s.
All that is fine but what about his claims? Why did he feel he had to pull his book back, rewrite it and rename it. Let’s hear from his readers:
“David Robinson’s views are very much a product of their time. But like many products of their time, they are perishable and have since rotted.”
“When I read the description, I was fully expecting to read about the author’s struggles with homosexual urges throughout his life and his attempts to rid himself of them or deal with them. Instead, the concept is glossed over, downplayed, and not even linked. Spoiler alert, homosexual urges don’t play an active part of his life per the lack of mention in his book. Instead, his book has focused on his views on the LGBT community. Actually, in his young adult and adult lives, he seems to be more afflicted by pornography (Playboy skewing his perception of women to the point of him breaking off relationships with women because they didn’t look a certain way) and his issues relating to the “chase” of women (At one point claiming that he wanted what he couldn’t have and didn’t want once he had). If anything, that whole part of the book felt completely unnecessary, and offensive, to his point about conversion therapy.” Are you able to follow this?
“Going back to that idea of being a product of its time, Robinson’s overall attitude toward the LGBT community is misguided and detestable. “Homosexual urges” are compared to drinking, smoking and overeating and are labelled as “vices.” Though Robinson points out that he doesn’t want to call them “evil” (He “doesn’t know if he would”) but still uses a word that has a negative connotation to it (Since semantics is another theme). At certain points, such as in the first few pages (Accessible through the preview), he repeats the same talking points about homosexuality being linked to HIV/AIDS, religious disparity, unnatural reproduction (Remember, if your mother had a c-section, she had you or that particular child unnaturally) which support conversion therapy. The problem is his understanding of conversion therapy in the book, stating that an impromptu encounter with, presumably (Because he doesn’t remember), an authority figure reminds him of where his erect penis is supposed to go. Even though this doesn’t even compare actual conversion therapy as a pseudoscientific construct, Robinson uses it as a means to qualify him to discuss conversion therapy. His argument falls apart, though, when he highlights more so about the language of the law and that it would prevent teaching heteronormative sex education. Jumping between that, comparing homosexuality to vices such as smoking (And then linking his smoking habit to homosexual urges), and his idea that he’s pointing out some conspiracy (Though not directly labelled as such), we have a dangerous ignorance on LGBT people and their struggles regarding different sexualities (And gender identity. Though, this book doesn’t discuss transgender people or gender identity).”
“As for the writing itself, it leaves much to be desired and Robinson spends much time talking about a combination of his love life in his early years, his stance on conversion therapy, and the fact that this is just his opinion and that he’s not an expert, but it’s how he sees it. And that’s what ends up diluting the writing with him reminding his readers that he isn’t qualified to talk about this short of anecdotal evidence and pulling hairs on semantics. He tries to reduce people to semantics, to simplify an argument that is as complicated as it is, and then plays it off as it just being an opinion or that he isn’t qualified, while speaking with authority on the subject. There’s a reason why conversion therapy support tends to be anecdotal, because there is nothing to back it up. Bonus points for giving an unattributed quote to an unnamed therapist who practices as well as citing old law dictionaries to define sexual intercourse (Which gets debunked by simple search on Merriam-Webster’s Online dictionary which provides two definitions so as to include non-vaginal intercourse), or using Freud, who has been debunked and is viewed as somewhat laughable in terms of sexual development, to back his notion up. Other than that, it’s really easy to get lost in the constant use of short sentences and clarification. It’s a written conversation with someone obsessed with his own voice.
Robinson’s sexuality then and now is something I am personally not concerned with, nor should his readers be concerned with. It’s his dangerous ignorance that is echoed by many others who support conversion therapy that is problematic. Though he doesn’t directly say it (And he doesn’t have to), his claims strongly suggest a fear of the LGBT community and attitudes related to that. The fear is unfounded as the community wants to create an environment for his hypothetical 15 year old boy to actually think about what is going on in his head rather than being told point blank about what is “natural” and him thinking there is something dearly wrong with him. After submitting this review, I’ll have put the book on my shelf to collect dust, maybe pulling it off the shelf to remind me that this way of thinking is still prevalent, and that ignorance isn’t necessarily religious bound either (Though it’s evoked a couple times in Robinson’s book). Personally, if you’re someone struggling with your sexuality, this book is not the answer. It’s not even a response. There are much better resources to peruse and people to hear from.”
“ Robinson claims he experienced same-gender attraction as a teenager and is now in a happy opposite-gender marriage. That’s great, I am, too! It’s called being bisexual – and by some accounts half the LGBTQ+ community identifies as bi. Robinson has every right to share his own personal experiences. However, he is a lawyer – not a psychologist, therapist or social worker – and when he starts to use his experience to justify conversion “therapy” of any kind he is advocating hate. This book is showing up in my queer and queer-friendly friends’ Facebook feeds as a sponsored post. I shudder to think that it may be appearing in gay and questioning teens feeds, too. Any message to queer youth that is not based in acceptance, pride and love is morally and ethically wrong.”
“This book makes it seem as if a person’s orientation or attraction can be changed, however, it is a matter of semantics. One would think a lawyer would know better. This is a man who is attracted to men and women and has found happiness in a monogamous marriage with a woman. How is that any different than a person attracted to many women who makes a monogamous commitment to one woman? Yes- that is a choice in behavior- not attraction or orientation. If someone is attracted to men and women, one could certainly choose to identify as straight rather than bisexual. But this entire book is clickbait for the idea that it is a choice over attraction and orientation (identity). If this man had only experienced attraction to men and had zero attraction to his wife, would he have lived a full happy life with his choices?”
“Possibly the most ridiculous and harmful thing I’ve ever read.”
“The title of the book and synopsis on its Facebook ad leads you to believe that this book might have some psychosocial/research backing in its nature/nurture claims, but it does not. It’s merely a first person account. I find the title and the marketing misleading.”
“This author has no credentials to write about this subject other than his own anecdotal evidence of denying his own sexuality. This is irresponsible and dangerous garbage. Amazon should not be giving this author a platform to spread his bigotry. Conversion therapy is nothing short of mental and emotional abuse against children, and David Robinson is promoting it.”
“Shame on Amazon for selling this book. Shame on David Robinson for continuing this abuse.”
“What a fantastic piece of garbage!”
“…feels less autobiographical and more like propaganda. The author writes as if he was still trying to prove he is a happy heterosexual. Don’t bother.”
“Disgusting that you are selling this bigoted garbage.”
“This is a dangerous book for people that have questions about their sexuality. Furthermore, this is not based in accepted science. Based on the description, the author has to force himself to be intimate with a woman to this day. Imagine if your mate had to force themselves to be intimate with you. It sure would ruin the mood, if you ask me.
I am sad this author has made the decision to not live his best life and will never experience TRUE love.”
“Irresponsible, dishonest garbage. It isn’t worthy of even one star.”
“This is a bunch of trite. How our ‘parts fit together’ is not a measure of anything. The same faulty logic could be used to justify bestiality, cause ‘ hey it fits’, It would fit in a honey dew mellow too David.”
“barely deserves one star for the graphic masturbation sequences.”
I can’t believe I wasted my time dealing with this.