Objectivism and homosexuality

Ayn Rand, author and developer of Objectivism, held controversial views regarding homosexuality and gender roles. Although her personal view of homosexuality was unambiguously negative, considering it immoral and disgusting, Rand endorsed non-discrimination protection for homosexuals in the public sphere while opposing laws against discrimination in the private sector on the basis of economic freedom.

Ayn Rand

Moral views

In 1971, Rand published an essay called "The Age of Envy", which included criticism of the women's liberation movement. Rand's criticisms included denouncing "sex views" that she considered "hideous", including "proclaim[ing] spiritual sisterhood with lesbians".[1] Later that year Rand published another essay that criticized women's liberation for forming a "common front with lesbians and prostitutes".[2] These two passages were Rand's only published writings about homosexuality.[3]

In response to questions from the audience at the two Ford Hall Forum lectures she gave at Northeastern University, Rand explained her views in more detail. In her 1968 lecture, she said, "I do not approve of such practices or regard them as necessarily moral, but it is improper for the law to interfere with a relationship between consenting adults."[4] Rand's heir Leonard Peikoff stated that there were people with whom Rand was "close, knowing full well that they were homosexual" and that "she certainly regarded some of them as Objectivists".[5]

Political views

Rand endorsed rights that protect homosexual people from discrimination by the government (such as opposition to sodomy laws), but rejected the right to be protected from discrimination in the private sector (such as employment discrimination).[6][7][8] The stated basis of this conclusion was that it was a product of her stand on property rights, not related to her feelings about homosexuality. Rand supported the right of a private property owner to discriminate, even on a basis that she condemned as immoral, such as racism, and that any act of the government to change this would be an intrusion on individual rights.

On sex roles

Rand asserted that "the essence of femininity is hero worship – the desire to look up to man" and that "an ideal woman is a man-worshipper, and an ideal man is the highest symbol of mankind."[9] In other words, Rand felt that it was part of human nature for a psychologically healthy woman to want to be ruled in sexual matters by a man worthy of ruling her. In an authorized article in The Objectivist, psychotherapist Nathaniel Branden, Rand's onetime extramarital lover and "intellectual heir," explains Rand's view as the idea that "man experiences the essence of his masculinity in the act of romantic dominance; woman experiences the essence of her femininity in the act of romantic surrender." This however, would be very different than any brutal form of rule.[10]

After Rand's death

After Rand's death in 1982, her heir, Leonard Peikoff, publicly disagreed with some of her views. Peikoff argued that homosexuality itself is not open to moral judgment. Other contemporary Objectivists generally continue to support the view that, while government should not discriminate for or against homosexuals in any way, private individuals and private organizations should be free to do so.

In 1983, Branden wrote that Rand was "absolutely and totally ignorant” about homosexuality. Branden added that he saw her perspective "as calamitous, as wrong, as reckless, as irresponsible, and as cruel, and as one which I know has hurt too many people who ... looked up to her and assumed that if she would make that strong a statement she must have awfully good reasons."[11]

According to an FAQ from The Atlas Society (formerly The Objectivist Center):

While many conservatives believe that homosexuality should be outlawed and many liberals believe that homosexuals should be given special rights, Objectivism holds that as long as no force is involved, people have the right to do as they please in sexual matters, whether or not their behavior is considered by others to be or is in fact moral. And since individual rights are grounded in the nature of human beings as human beings, homosexuals do not deserve any more or less rights than heterosexuals.[12]

Objectivist psychotherapist Michael J. Hurd supports gay marriage as falling under the rights of individuals to associate voluntarily. Unlike Rand, however, he does not view homosexuality as immoral, stating that "a gay marriage... though unconventional and highly controversial, can be a loving and highly satisfying union between two individuals."[13][14]

Objectivist psychologists Ellen Kenner and Edwin Locke expressed opinions similar to those of Hurd.[15][16]

Chartered affiliates of the Objectivist Party, a minor political party in the United States, have adopted platforms opposing government-sanctioned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, favoring legalization of same-sex marriage, and favoring elimination of the military's policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".[17]

See also


  1. Rand, Ayn (1971). "The Age of Envy". The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution. New American Library.
  2. Rand, Ayn (December 20, 1971). "The Disfranchisement of the Right". The Ayn Rand Letter. 1 (6): 26.
  3. Lewis, John David & Salmieri, Gregory (2015). "A Philosopher on Her Times: Ayn Rand's Political and Cultural Commentary". In Gotthelf, Allan & Salmieri, Gregory. A Companion to Ayn Rand. Wiley Blackwell. p. 396n87. ISBN 978-1-4051-8684-1.
  4. Ayn Rand Answers, p. 18
  5. http://www.peikoff.com/2009/05/25/is-homosexuality-immoral/
  6. Atlassociety.org
  7. Theobjectivestandard.com
  8. Capitalismmagazine.com
  9. Mehr Freiheit
  10. The Psychology of Self-Esteem, Nathaniel Branden, 1969
  11. "Ayn Rand and Homosexuality" Paul Varnell, Chicago Free Press, reprinted Archived 2006-09-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. Moskovitz, D. (January 5, 2002). "Homosexuality". The Objectivist Center. Retrieved November 23, 2008.
  13. Hurd, Michael J. (April 24, 2004). "Gay Marriage". Capitalism Magazine. Retrieved November 23, 2008.
  14. Romance: Bringing Love and Sex Together (CD)
  15. The Rational Basis of Homosexuality, Kenner
  16. Dr. Kenner on Romance
  17. Affiliate Platforms
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