James Harrison, 45, of New York, a member of the Assn. of Gay Psychologists, said he has scanned [Eli Siegel]'s writing, and "it's basic homespun philosophy. They think he is very original, and he's not. He's picked up bits and pieces from existentialism, psychoanalysis, Gestalt psychology - ideas fed into a well-read intellectual culture. Instead of being a grand philosopher, I take it he was a nice guy who fused together ideas with meaning to him and wrote about them. The strange thing is that homosexuality is mentioned only once or twice. His strongest emphasis is on honesty and integrity . . . He's not preoccupied with homosexuality, contrary to the Aesthetic Realists. To them, it's as if H' is the most important question in the world. The question is why?" -
Lee Birk, M.D., a Newton psychiatrist, an associate clinical professor at Harvard Medical School, and director of Learning Therapies Inc., said: "Almost anything is possible, but it sounds unlikely. Maybe there are people who have changed their sexual behavior. I can't say it's not so; I've never heard of Aesthetic Realism or Eli Siegel. But there are gay people who don't want to be that way and after a long time in therapy can do a heterosexual shift . . . by learning to expand emotional and sexual horizons . . . It's mainly men who want to change. But it isn't quick. It's several years, usually. They have to really want to change, not just think they do."
Gay individuals and organizations trying to change anti- homosexual attitudes in society view Aesthetic Realism as a hostile and antagonistic fringe group. Some acknowledge, however, that Aesthetic Realism, like the Gay Liberation Movement itself, may simply provide a support group for people who want to change, their motivation imbedded in "a deep aversion to their own homosexuality," as New York psychologist Hal Kooden put it. Kooden, 45, said that society's homophobia tends to feed deep-seated feelings of isolation and self-hatred in gay persons.