Who she is: Professor of Psychology at the University of Utah
What she’s accomplished: Diamond has done groundbreaking studies of sexual fluidity among women — studies that she knew would be controversial and had the potential for twisting by anti-LGBT folks. “We have found that one of the fundamental, defining features of female sexual orientation is its fluidity,” she wrote in her 2008 book “Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire”. “We are now on the brink of a revolutionary new understanding of female sexuality that has profound social and scientific implications.”
That doesn’t mean that sexual orientation is chosen, Diamond, a lesbian, has said in interviews — her subjects indicate that feelings of attraction are innate, even if they try hard to resist them — and however one identifies, that should be no reason for discrimination. She has decried the misuse of her research by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, which advocates the widely discredited practice of “ex-gay” therapy, and by lawyers defending the Defense of Marriage Act.
“This has been so frustrating for me, partly because I am aware that no matter how many times I endeavor to clarify what fluidity means, and what my research shows, it doesn’t seem to matter: Those who are motivated to misuse my research will do so, regardless of what I say,” she told Huffington Post interviewer Amy Andre last year. When that happens, Diamond added, “I have to take a deep breath and just keep talking, keep sounding the alarm, keep standing up for scientific integrity and for basic sexual freedom.”
In the same interview, Diamond said her research has shown her that “Bisexuals are not the exception; they are the norm!” People with attractions to both genders, she said, “are individuals who feel just as marginalized by the queer community as they do by the straight community, and that literally breaks my heart.”
Choice quote: “Fluidity and a broadened version of sexuality could get us to ask the questions, what is healthy sexuality? … We need to get over this anxiety about sexuality. It would be an amazing thing if a 13-year-old went into health class was told, ‘You are at the beginning of an incredible journey. I’m going to give you some tools and strategies for figuring out what you want and how to get it. But you are in the beginning of an adventure and it’s going to be great!’” — Diamond to radio interviewer Troy Williams in 2009.