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What Are the Homosexual Tactics of Desensitization, Jamming, & Conversion?

In 1990, Harvard-trained gay authors Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen wrote the book After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 1990’s, in which they presented a six-point comprehensive strategy for changing America’s attitude toward homosexuality. According to the authors, the purpose of this book was to expand and detail an already existing four-point agenda into what they called “a practical agenda” for homosexuals. Recounting the origins of this agenda, they wrote, “In February 1988 … a ‘war conference’ of 175 leading gay activists, representing organizations from across the land, convened in Warrenton, Virginia, to establish a four-point agenda for the gay movement.”1

After the Ball is filled with specific tactics for accomplishing this “practical agenda.” Regarding the authors, they willingly admit, “The campaign we outline in this book, though complex, depends centrally upon a program of unabashed propaganda, firmly grounded in long-established principles of psychology and advertising.”2 Most notable among these tactics are those of desensitization, jamming, and conversion. Regarding desensitization, the authors wrote, “[T]o desensitize straights to gays and gayness, inundate them in a continuous flood of gay-related advertising, presented in the least offensive fashion possible. If straights can’t shut off the shower, they may at least eventually get used to being wet.”3 They also wrote:4

Gays must launch a large-scale campaign … to reach straights through the mainstream media. We’re talking about propaganda. … [C]arefully crafted, repeatedly displayed mass-media images of gays could conceivably do even more to reverse negative stereotypes than could the incremental coming-out of one person to another. … One of the special advantages of a media campaign is that it can—and should—portray only the most favorable sides of gays … When this is done, the picture labeled “queer” is aggressively painted over; prior images of dirty old queens or coarsened dykes are overlaid with pleasing new images of all-American and Miss American types.” (emphasis in the original)

Equally important as the strategy of desensitization is something they referred to as “jamming.” According to the authors of After the Ball, “Jamming makes use of the rules of Associative Conditioning (the psychological process whereby, when two things are repeatedly juxtaposed, one’s feelings about one thing are transferred to the other) and Direct Emotional Modeling (the inborn tendency of human beings to feel what they perceive others to be feeling.)”5 One means of accomplishing this is to unfairly associate everyone who opposes homosexuality with the radical beliefs and actions of fringe extremists. They wrote:6

In TV and print, images of victimizers can be combined with those of their gay victims by a method propagandists call the “bracket technique.” For example, for several seconds an unctuous beady-eyed Southern preacher is shown pounding the pulpit in rage against “those perverted, abominable creatures.” While his tirade continues over the soundtrack, the picture switches to heart-rending photos of badly beaten persons, or of gays who look decent, harmless, and likeable; and then we cut back to the poisonous face of the preacher. The contrast speaks for itself. The effect is devastating.

The viewer will ordinarily recoil from these images of victimizers, thinking automatically: “I don’t like those maniacs, don’t want to be like them, and would be ashamed if others thought I was like them. Surely I’m more compassionate and sophisticated, because I don’t share their irrational hatred of gays.” Every time a viewer runs through this comparative self-appraisal, he reinforces a self-definition that consciously rejects homohatred and validates sympathy for gay victims. Exactly what we want.

A particularly effective means of jamming has been to redefine the homosexual as a victim. The authors wrote, “In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be portrayed as victims in need of protection so that straights will be inclined by reflex to adopt the role of protector. … The purpose of victim imagery is to make straights feel very uncomfortable; that is, to jam with shame the self-righteous pride that would ordinarily accompany and reward their antigay belligerence, and to lay groundwork for the process of conversion by helping straights identify with gays and sympathize with their underdog status.”7

The final tactic presented in the book After the Ball for accomplishing this “practical agenda” for homosexuality is that of conversion. The authors wrote:8

Desensitization aims at lowering the intensity of antigay emotional reactions to a level approximating sheer indifference; Jamming attempts to blockade or counteract the rewarding “pride in prejudice” … by attaching to homohatred a pre-existing, and punishing, sense of shame in being a bigot, a horse’s [expletive], and a beater and murderer. Both Desensitization and Jamming, though extremely useful, are mere preludes to our highest—though necessarily very long-range—goal, which is Conversion. It isn’t enough that antigay bigots should become confused about us, or even indifferent to us—we are safest, in the long run, if we can actually make them like us. Conversion aims at just this.

In case there remains any doubt as to what is meant by “conversion,” the authors clarify, “We mean conversion of the average American’s emotions, mind, and will through a planned psychological attack, in the form of propaganda fed to the nation via the media. We mean ‘subverting’ the mechanism of prejudice to our own ends—using the very processes that made America hate us to turn their hatred into warm regard—whether they like it or not.”9

Without question, these authors were absolutely correct when they defined their book as a “practical agenda.” These tactics offered in the book After the Ball have proven to be incredibly successful. Nevertheless, gay activists often seek to disassociate themselves from this landmark book and dismiss it as an obscure fringe work. Most likely, this is because the book is a raw and honest exposure of the gay movement’s tactics, goals, and intentional deception. Regardless, nearly every suggested tactic in the book has been utilized by the gay movement.


1. Brown, A Queer Thing, 32–33.
2. Kirk, After the Ball, xxvi.
3. Ibid, 149.
4. Ibid, 161, 169.
5. Ibid, 151.
6. Ibid, 189–190.
7. Ibid, 183.
8. Ibid, 153.
9. Ibid, 153–154.
10. Ibid, i.

Works Cited

1. Brown, Michael. A Queer Thing Happened to America. Concord: EqualTime Books, 2011.
2. Kirk, Marshall and Hunter Madsen. After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90s. New York: Doubleday, 1989.


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Author: Timothy Zebell, 2015