Friday, 14 June 2013

Why do people thing being gay is a choice?

So, hopefully you are one of those people who believe being gay isn't a binary thing, it is a spectrum of gay and everybody sits somewhere on the number line between 0 and 1 (see fifty shades of gay).

A lot of people find themselves in a position where they have the power to make a decision about how to live their life. They may decide to ignore the gayer parts of themselves and only date heterosexually and hook up heterosexually and for all intents and purposes, 'BE' heterosexual. These people have chosen to 'BE' straight. Similarly I imagine some people choose to 'BE' bisexual and 'BE' gay based on a multitude of reasons.

There are two problems that can arise from this.
Some people will take offence. In my eyes, it is a simple miscommunication. When people say that being gay is a choice (under this explanation) what they really mean is having gay relationships is a choice, as per the argument outlined above. Actually being gay A.K.A. being attracted to the same sex is no more a choice than liking blue cheese or preferring Art Garfunkel to Paul Simon; it might not be the most common preference but it is both your prerogative and part of your identity, not a choice.
Some people use this to put down gay people and try to deny them rights. This is hateful and childish and I will say no more of it.

This is by no means a tried and tested theory, it's just my experience and my understanding. If you have another explanation, please let me know in the comments.

When I really think about being gay in terms of a spectrum, the words gay and straight start to lose their meanings except in terms of a decision people make. Every man and woman who is out of the closet has made the decision to associate with the LGBT community and in this respect they are LGBT. Outside of that context, does it make sense to call an individual lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans? Maybe we should employ a number system. You could introduce yourself as L1G2B8T9 depending on how much you associate with each facet of lgbt?

Labels have their uses. We use them to associate with each other. "Oh you're a fan of Metallica? Me too!" is much easier than saying "Your list of songs that you like by Metallica matches with my list with 73% accuracy! That's cool!". The dark side of labels always have to be handled carefully and, when exploited, the whole community has to stand and be exploited together, to fight against it together, rather than let one of their number fall (I may have gotten slightly off topic here).

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