So you say you don’t hate gay people, Part III

I thought I was just going to post twice on this subject – first pointing out that whether or not you hate gay people is irrelevant when you’re causing them objective harm by opposing their rights, and second examining whether one could oppose gay rights without “hating” gay people – but I’ve decided to write two more posts, each responding to a constant meme used by anti-gay rights Christians.

In this post I will examine the argument that just like someone can love his drug addicted child while hating the addiction, a person can love a gay child while hating homosexuality. Yes I dealt with this question a bit yesterday, but I think there’s a bit more to be said. 

I want to start by saying that what follows is simply my personal thoughts on this argument. I’m not completely up to date on the scientific studies regarding what “causes” people to be gay, and I’m not especially well read on gay theory on the issue either. If you are knowledgeable on either, feel free to add your thoughts.

I heard over and over again growing up that being gay was just like any other sin – premarital sex, drug addiction, alcoholism, theft, murder, etc. If a child grew up to indulge in any sin, that was a terribly sad thing, and all the parents could do was pray for their wayward child – whether that child had erred by becoming a mass murderer or a drug addict or by being gay.

I cringe every time I hear this argument, for three reasons. First, being gay is not something someone’ chooses; second, being gay doesn’t cause harm; and third, being gay is a part of one’s identity, not simply something someone chooses to do.

Choice

Growing up, I was taught that people become gay because of unbalanced relationships with their parents. The son is more artistic and his father is upset that he’s not the jock son he wanted, so the son looks for the male affirmation he never got from his father in, well, other men, and that’s what makes him gay. Etc. The problems with this are numerous, not the least being that we’re talking about sexual attraction here, not simply the desire for emotional affirmation. But there’s also the reality that, for most gay people, this story does not fit.

When I entered college I met and got to know gay people for the first time. And I heard their stories. The man who knew there was something different about him when, at age nine, the playboy magazine one of his friends had gotten his hands on did not do for him what it was clearly doing for his friends. The man who was extremely involved in his evangelical church in his teens, holding inwardly his religion-induced loathing of the same sex sexual attraction he could not seem to stop, eventually almost succeeding in killing himself to put an end to it all. The woman who, though biologically male, knew from elementary school that she was different, and went through puberty loathing her developing male body.

None of these individuals had mommy/daddy issues – and  none of them “chose” their sexuality. After all, if they could have, they would almost certainly have chosen differently given that all three grew up in religious homes where they learned that being gay or transgender was a sin and an abomination. For each of them, being queer was something they just were, not something they chose.

Christians who oppose gay marriage will say until they are blue in the face that being gay is a choice, a “lifestyle,” and that gay people can become straight, but that does not make it so. It’s not like straight people decide one day to be attracted to people of the opposite sex. They just are. Same with gay people.

All of this is one reason why I cringe anytime someone compares being gay to being a drug addict or a murderer. People are not born drug addicts or murderers. Those are the results of choices they make. In contrast, being gay is not.

Harm

But, even if being gay were solely a choice, it still could not be classed in with, say, robbery or murder because unlike those crimes, being gay does not hurt anyone. If one of my children grew up to murder, or create a ponzi scheme and take people’s money, etc, I would feel especially saddened because my child had caused others harm. I cannot even imagine how it must feel to be the parent of a mass murderer like the Aurora shooter. But being gay? That doesn’t hurt anyone! And that’s a big difference!

Of course, that still leaves the comparison with drug addiction. After all, Christians who oppose gay marriage because they see homosexuality as disordered would argue that leading a “gay lifestyle” is harmful to the individual him or herself, even if to no one else – and the same could be said of being a drug addict. Honestly, it’s this comparison I understand best, because it would be difficult for me to watch one of my children harming him or herself through drug addiction just as it is difficult for conservative Christians to watch a gay child (presumably) harming him or herself by being gay.

The problem is that being gay isn’t actually harmful to a person. In other words, it’s not actually like drug addiction. Of course, growing up I thought it was – I was told that if you’re gay the rates of getting an STD or AIDS go way up, that you’ll die early, that you’ll be suicidal and miserable, that you won’t have any scrap of happiness in your life, etc. The problem is that this is essentially all complete misinformation. I.e., it’s WRONG. Anyone has a chance of getting an STD or AIDS if they aren’t careful and don’t use protection. Suicide rates are higher among gay people because they face discrimination and are taught that they are abominations, not because they’re gay. Et cetera. It’s only the misinformation that leads to the idea that being gay is harmful to a person the way having a drug addiction is harmful to a person.

Of course, there’s also the idea that whether or not being gay is harmful to an individual in this life, it’s still harmful in that it will send that individual to hell after they die. I can’t respond to that, because it’s completely based on faith and not on any sort of objective reality. However, I would simply say that a God who would create some people with same sex attractions and yet not allow them to act on it or lead successful, fulfilled, loving lives without being sent to hell is, to say the least, a dick.

Based on all this, I want to make one more point. Even if being gay were a choice, would that really matter?

Let’s assume for a moment that sexual orientation is a choice (it’s not; I never chose to be straight). Does that actually make it different from the civil rights movement?

What if race were a choice? What if we had a pill that a black person could take in the evening that would make them wake up a white person? A pill that would change their skin color, their features, their hair, erase their memories of their parents’ culture and the experience of growing up black in America, and implant false memories of white culture and experience?

If such a pill were available, would that make it morally permissible to roll back the civil rights movement, reinstate Jim Crow laws, etc.? Is racial equality something white people condescend to extend to non-whites because, poor dears, they just can’t help being what they are? Or is it an inherent right of all people, because being a person of colour is an equally worthy way of being human as being white?

Anyway, leaving aside this interesting thought experiment, the fact that being gay doesn’t cause others – or even oneself – objective harm is a second reason I cringe when I hear having a gay child being compared with having a child who is a drug addict or a murderer.

Identity

Finally there is the identity issue I mentioned in yesterdays’ post.

A person’s sexuality is like their skin color or their sex. It’s an integral part of who they are, and it’s not something you can just separate out and reject without rejecting that person. You can’t say to a black person “I love you, but I hate your blackness” or to a woman “I love you, but I hate your womanness,” and in the same way you can’t say to a gay person “I love you, but I hate your queerness.”

In contrast, being a drug addict or a murderer is not part of one’s identity. It’s simply an action a person chooses to do.

When a person claims to hate gay people’s sexuality but love the gay people, I can’t help but shake my head. Unless you can hate the color of someone’s skin and yet love them, or hate a person’s sex and yet love the person – and I don’t think you can do either – you can’t hate homosexuality and yet love a gay person.

So when a parent claims that just as they could love a drug addicted child and yet hate the drug addiction, they can love their gay child and yet hate homosexuality, I take issue with that. But there’s another point you have to understand in order to understand this.

You see, sometimes when a parent claims to love his or her child what that parent is really loving is not the real child but rather a figment of their imagination. For example, my parents say they love me, but they don’t know me, the real me I am today. I stopped sharing that “me” with them a long time ago, back when I realized that sharing only resulted in pain. They love the me I was growing up, not the me I am now – they don’t even know the me I am now, and I’m not sure they want to. Or think, for example, of the parents who push and push and push their child in some sport or musical talent, to the point where the child feels that the parents’ love is contingent on them winning – because the child the parent loves is not really them, but rather this champion they imagine them to be.

Parents aren’t perfect, and love isn’t as simple as we often make it out to be, even parental love.

What I mean is this: I think that too often when a Christian parent claims to love his or her gay child yet hate homosexuality, that parent is loving something that is at least in part simply a figment of their imagination.

And that is the third reason I cringe when I hear Christian parents claim that they can love their gay child and yet hate homosexuality.

Conclusion

Anyway, those are my thoughts, and since you presumably read my blog for my thoughts, now you have them. I’d now like to open the floor. Do you have anything you would add to this? And don’t think your thoughts don’t mean anything – I have on many occasions read a comment and immediately responded with “oh! I never thought of that before!” And if your comments are useful to me, I’m sure they’re useful to my other readers as well. :-)

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Caramello

    Supposing your child was unlucky enough to experience pedophilic desires? Wouldn’t you feel able to argue in some form that you still loved the child but rejected the concept of him/her acting on those desires? Obviously, pedophilia is harmful, like drug addiction and unlike being gay. But you would still have the question of whether or not you could claim to love your child while rejecting his/her sexuality.

    I hope that things have got better for your formerly evangelical gay friend, and that he is now glad to be alive.

    • Lumiere

      There’s a vast difference between homosexuality and paedophilia. Homosexuality almost always comes along with Homoromanticism, and, as whom you love (romantic or platonic) is of great importance to who you are, it informs your sense of self. Paedophilia is a sexual fetish and has as much to do with anyones identity as my fondness for red heads has to do with mine. Though I will admit, that paedophilia is so reprehensible to society and, I hope, to most paedophiles, it may alter you self-image and behavior.

    • lucifermourning

      Actually, I think it’s better not to assume that paedophilia is just a sexual fetish/choice. Paedophiles are extremely difficult, possibily impossible, to truly cure.

      This is where the difference of the “harm factor” is really important, and why all three factors are important.

      Personally, I would hope very much that if I found out my child had paedophiliac desires/was a paedophile, my reaction would depend on what they did with those desires. Did they act on them and hurt or endanger children? Or did they start looking for ways to manage this without causing harm to anyone else (e.g. seeking out a therapist who could help them be celibate and/or focus on any non-paedophilic elements of their sexuality, avoiding working with or having children, etc.)

      In the latter case, I hope very much that my response would be compassion, sympathy and encouragement of whatever they were doing to prevent harm to others. I would hope very much that I would not reject my child, but try and help them manage something extremely difficult in the most ethical way possible.

      Because, to me, ethics comes down to the basics – hurting people is wrong. If you have a strong desire to hurt people, that sucks, but the answer isn’t telling you you’re a horrible person for feeling that way. It’s actions that count, and there are ways to compassionately manage destructive desires.

      • Lumiere

        Not sure how a sexual fetish is a choice in any other way than when and how you engage in it.

    • http://jewelfox.dreamwidth.org Taryn Fox

      It’s possible to indulge a sexual fetish without bringing harm to anyone. Masochists don’t actually want to be bound and gagged and raped, outside of their fantasy scenarios, and I’ve never even heard of anyone into vore eating a human.

      The one time I did hear of someone who wanted to eat human children for sexual gratification, it was a Christian who was part of a bus or youth ministry IIRC. I feel that those who teach “hate the sin” create their own monsters.

    • http://riliansrlog.blogspot.com Rilian

      People can be attracted to children the same way other people can be attracted to adults. Regardless of their actions, their sexual orientation is part of their identity. A person who is attracted to people their own age is not allowed to take advantage of or rape the people they’re attracted to. Same with a person who’s attracted to younger people.

  • Aniota

    Libby, I’d like to ramble a bit about your notion of drug addiction not inflicting harm unto others than the addicted as well as being gay not causing any harm to anyone.
    As you yourself wrote, “it would be difficult for me to watch one of my children harming him or herself through drug addiction”. Therefore we can conclude that a drug addiction does not only harm the individual addict but also those who love and care for said person. By inflicting harm unto yourself you also hurt those who hold you dear. Humans do not exist isolated but in tightly spun net of personal relationships. Thus, the argument of drug addiction not hurting others does not hold water to begin with.
    Now, if one were to turn this around and say that being gay also inflicts pain on others, namely the ones who love the gay person but think that being gay is “sinful”, I’d have to agree. As you wrote, Libby, “it is difficult for conservative Christians to watch a gay child (presumably) harming him or herself by being gay”.
    So the real question is whether or not it can be justified to hurt others in these ways. If we start weighing the pros and cons of those two scenarios against each others, the answer becomes easily clear:
    In the case of drug addiction the individual makes a choice that is harmful to her-/himself as well as those who care for her/him and gains perhaps some moments of bliss in return. The cons outweigh the pros.
    In the case of homosexuality there is no choice, it is, as you pointed out, “an integral part of who they are”. To deny yourself the love that you deserve would be tremendously harmful to yourself, only to shield the feelings of people who don’t love you, but “rather a figment of their imagination”. On the other hand, being openly gay allows for flourishing of one’s own life at the cost of hurting people who hold their own values as more important than you. This is vastly different from drug addiction! The pros massively outweigh the cons.

    Also, @Caramello:
    I don’t quite agree liking pedophilia and drug addiction to one another. Acting upon the former does not hurt the pedophile the way doing drugs hurts the addict and – much more severe! – it causes unbelievably greater harm to others (the children molested, those who love them etc.) than seeing your own child addicted to whatever. Therefore, while the cost of not acting upon one’s desire for the individual pedophile is higher than for someone not to do drugs, the harm avoided by this is so very much greater that it is worth paying the price for it.

    • Aniota

      I feel like I have to clarify one statement: “at the cost of hurting people who hold their own values as more important than you”
      This is not supposed to mean “they hold their own values as more important than you hold these values” but rather “their values are more important to them than you as a person are of importance to them”.

    • Fina

      Actually, the parents in these cases inflict the pain upon themselves. They choose (in a manner) to feel that pain because they care for their child (whether the actual child or their image of it).
      The action in and by itself does not cause harm, but rather the fact that the parents care for their child.

      Furthermore, i find it highly questionable to suggest that you should restrict your own actions to avoid harming your loved ones in such a manner. We’re not talking about being mean or directly harming another person. We are talking about making choices in ones life that do not directly affect others.

      • Rosa

        Not to mention that in many cases, the religiously conservative parent has hurt their own families and friends by exercising their religion. They would never argue that religious conversions should be outlawed because they harm families. For example, one of our friends got married recently, and his sister did not attend because he had been previously divorced. A coworker of mine got divorced after being born again because her husband wouldn’t give up his own faith and (normal amounts of) drinking, watching TV, etc.

        Through my life i’ve seen many children forced to give up friends or activities (school parties, sports, friends who were originally thought to be good conversion targets but did not convert) because of their parents beliefs.

        Somehow the “harm” done by gay people existing is a huge horrible problem and the harm done by religious extremism is not.

      • Aniota

        I’m sorry if what I’ve written wasn’t clear enough on the issues you reply to – as you’ve probably already guessed, English isn’t my first language.
        While I do agree that the personal relationship with someone you care about is what hurts you when the person you care about harms her-/himself instead of the action itself, I do not see this as changing who is responsible for the harm caused to you. The person you care about knows that you care and is in my opinion therefore to be held accountable at least(!) for the initial harm inflicted upon you once you learn that they harm themselves as well as for your pain from ending your relationship with them. This might, however, simply be a point on which we might have to agree to disagree as I assume it’s a matter of different underlying philosophies.

        As for your second point, I found I’ve made it relatively clear that I do not “suggest” refraining from doing something because someone who cares about you might see this as self-harming, especially when it really isn’t – as I’ve pointed out! As I’ve stated quite clearly, “To deny yourself the love that you deserve would be tremendously harmful [i.e. not good] to yourself” and “The pros [of not refraining] massively outweigh the cons [of harming others who erroneously think refraining is the better choice]“. Could you perchance enlighten me as to what formulation of mine led you to infer I “suggested” for gays to ‘stay in the closet’ because it’s nicer this way for their bigoted relatives and acquaintances?

      • Aniota

        My above response is of course directed at Fina, not Rosa.

  • Steve

    If it were really about minimizing the risks of STDs all women should be lesbians

  • Jason Dick

    Just in case anybody is interested in the evidence surrounding homosexuality, the psychology department at UC Davis hosts a great website that goes over a lot of the evidence we have surrounding sexual orientation:
    http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/index.html

  • http://frog-monkey.blogspot.com.au/ Lucy Mayne

    Regarding the question of choice, I found this article by Greta Christina to be really interesting.

    Of course it’s true that I don’t have a choice about who I’m sexually attracted to. And I didn’t have a choice about who I fell in love with. I don’t choose that, any more than anyone else does. But back when I was dating, I did have a choice about who I dated and who I socialized with. At the time that I fell for Ingrid, I was dating women, and socializing in the lesbian community, a whole lot more than I was with men and in the hetero community. And I was doing it out of choice.

  • machintelligence

    Now, if one were to turn this around and say that being gay also inflicts pain on others, namely the ones who love the gay person but think that being gay is “sinful”, I’d have to agree. As you wrote, Libby, “it is difficult for conservative Christians to watch a gay child (presumably) harming him or herself by being gay”.

    I hope no-one tries to take this ball and run with it, because the slippery slope is there for all to see.

    The parents of a 17-year-old girl will spend at least 25 years in a British prison for the death of their daughter after the couple’s conviction Friday for killing her over her desire to live a Westernized lifestyle and become an attorney, a court spokeswoman said Friday.
    Chester Crown Court Judge Roderick Evans sentenced Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed to life in prison. He said the couple, who were originally from Pakistan, must be imprisoned for at least 25 years before being eligible for parole.
    The sentence came hours after the court found them guilty of murder in the death of Shafilea Ahmed. The girl’s dismembered body was found on a riverbank in February 2004, months after she disappeared in 2003.
    The death was the final act in a long-running effort by the couple to get their daughter to conform to their beliefs, Detective Superintendent Geraint Jones told reporters.

    There you have it, “tough love” on steroids.

  • Mina

    The quote from Greta brings up a fair point, one touched on in the descriptions of gay and trans* people from strongly religious backgrounds: We may not chose our orientation, but we do chose how we act on it.

    I am bi-sexual. So far, in my 45 years, I haven’t noticed that either gender has a stronger pull for me. My sexual compatibility is based on other things than parts. That’s just me. There were times in my life that, like Greta, I was surrounded by other women and the lesbian community. So…I slept with more women. Go figger. Then I wasn’t and I didn’t. So the argument could be made that I make a choice, that the lifestyle (whatever the frak that is) influences me.

    But, and here’s the important part, so what? Society has never been harmed by that choice. My family has never cared. And if your religion causes you to get all up in arms about who *I* sleep with, then maybe you should seek professional help. Seriously–if that kind of obsessional behavior over the choices of others came from any other source but religion? It would be a disorder.

  • Rachel

    Libby, there’s something I hope you can clear up for me. When evangelicals say that being gay is a choice, I’ve always assumed they mean that “coming out” is a choice — that people can choose living as gay or straight. This would explain some of the things you’ve talked about previously — “no one’s denying gay people the right to marriage, they can marry opposite-sex people! It’s not denying them rights, they can have the rights if they just choose to act like ‘normal’ people!” The sin is thus not in thoughts, but in deeds: having gay thoughts might be a sin in and of itself, but one lesser than being openly gay, and people should more or less suck it up. Is this accurate?

  • Rachel

    Libby, there’s something I hope you can clear up for me. When evangelicals say that being gay is a choice, I’ve always assumed they mean that “coming out” is a choice — that people can choose living as gay or straight. This would explain some of the things you’ve talked about previously — “no one’s denying gay people the right to marriage, they can marry opposite-sex people! It’s not denying them rights, they can have the rights if they just choose to act like ‘normal’ people!” The sin is thus not in thoughts, but in deeds: having gay thoughts might be a sin in and of itself, but one lesser than being openly gay, and people should more or less suck it up. Is this accurate?

  • PrincessOfDork

    I’ve enjoyed this series of posts; there’s a lot of well-phrased information that I’ve been passing on to people I sincerely hope will read and comprehend it.

    I have one tiny nitpick, though. In the section on identity, you said, “In contrast, being a drug addict or a murderer is not part of one’s identity. It’s simply an action a person chooses to do.” I would draw a line between drug USE and drug ADDICTION. Drug use is a choice that can lead to addiction, but once the addiction line is crossed, that person will always be an addict. Even if he or she manages to stay clean, that addiction remains a part of the personality. I would argue that addiction does, in fact, become a part of the person’s identity.

    Like I said, a tiny nitpick, caused mostly by long experience in dealing with addicts and the long-lasting effects of addictions.

    • Ibis3

      Drug use is a choice that can lead to addiction, but once the addiction line is crossed, that person will always be an addict.

      This is AA dogma. I’m not an expert, but I do know that secular recovery programs don’t necessarily buy into this paradigm.

      • charro

        Once an addict, always an addict. It’s not dogma, it’s true. The biochemistry of an addict is different than that of a non addict. Addicts can not use “recreationally” without a large chance of reigniting the addiction. There is no cure for addiction.

        I also disagree with the “addiction is a choice” meme. Addiction is not a choice. It’s a disease.

      • Mac

        @charro: I hear this (“Once an addict, always an addict”) often. I am a former alcoholic who can now (occasionally and in moderation) drink alcohol, and I disagree. I recognise that for many addicts this is not the case, but I take exception to the blanket claim.

        @Libby Anne: My wife pointed me to your blog some time ago – I love reading your blog, and wish I was as eloquent as you.

  • Skjaere

    “You see, sometimes when a parent claims to love his or her child what that parent is really loving is not the real child but rather a figment of their imagination. For example, my parents say they love me, but they don’t know me, the real me I am today. I stopped sharing that “me” with them a long time ago, back when I realized that sharing only resulted in pain.”

    This is a feeling I know oh-so well. It’s upsetting and frustrating. I’ve tried to make an effort as I’ve become an adult to help my parents actually know me better, since I’m not under their roof anymore, and they can’t restrict my behaviour anymore, or shower judgement on me from close range. But I still feel like they don’t really get it, and sometimes I think they never will.

  • Falls Apart

    I’m adamantly in support of gay marriage, gay adoption, and gay rights in general. I stand up to discrimination where I see it, although I’m lucky enough to live in an area that’s liberal and accepting, so such instances don’t occur often. When I found out my cousin was transitioning, I just mentally switched from “she” to “he” and got used to the name change; it made literally no difference in how I looked at him.

    However, I do follow my religion’s teachings on sexuality, and that includes not pursuing relationships with members of my own gender, although I am bisexual. I’m not ex-gay or anything scary like that; I’m totally comfortable with my orientation. I’ve never seen it as any different from my vegetarianism–I’m naturally omnivorous, but choose to avoid meat due to philosophical issues. For me, personally, my sexuality is far from integral to my identity, although I realize this is not the case for many, if not most, people.

    My honest, non-rhetorical question is this: would you say that I’m a bigot? I’m not trying to prove a point, not trying to pretend I represent the majority of a particular group of people, not trying to lead anyone into saying anything. I’m actually curious as to whether the issue is taken with people’s treatment of LGBTs, or their sexual philosophy and applications thereof, if they really do separate the two.

    • Falls Apart

      Sorry, just realized the phraseology in my first paragraph was ambiguous. When I said that my FtM cousin’s transition made no difference in how I looked at him, I mean that I know he is still the same person, and I don’t think any less of him for this (in fact, I admire his courage). I realize that it could have sounded as if I didn’t start thinking of him as male, and just made a shift in semantics. That was not what I meant. Just wanted to clarify!

    • Rosie

      I wish every Christian had this view, honestly. You have the freedom to choose how you interact with your sexuality, diet, and religion, and you seem to fully support giving the same choices to everyone, even those who choose, or feel, or think differently than you on any of the above topics. This is not even related to bigotry. Your choices don’t effect my life; I care not at all that you limit yourself in the name of your religion. It’s only bigotry if you ask (or worse yet, insist) that I do the same, in the name of *your* religion.

      • Christine

        I can respect the people who are offended that I take it upon myself to judge their choices, and feel that they should live a life to which they are not called, even if I’m not imposing my own standards upon them. That being said, there is absolutely no religious argument for banning gay marriage, no matter how strongly you feel about it. You’re not going to stop long-term same-sex relationships from happening. But you want to avoid them getting the same benefits that “properly” married couples do?

        Legally two people can get married and not
        -have any pre-marital counselling or even discuss their family backgrounds
        -have known each other for any longer than is required to make an appointment with the officiant
        -have met each others’ families, or even told their own family that they are in a relationship

        After a short period of time, they can decide that their valid marriage should cease to be, and then declare an end to it with some paperwork and legal separation. (I am not trying to say that it’s easy, even if both parties agree, but that is what it boils down to).

        What part of this is similar enough to a “traditional” marriage that it should be restricted to them?

      • http://www.seditiosus.blogspot.com Schaden Freud

        What Rosie said. If everybody saw the world the way you do, the world would be a much better place.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      I’m glad that you support LGBT rights but, I must say, I find your position confusing. You say that you feel a strong conviction to follow your religion’s teachings on sexuality, which include the prohibition of same-sex relationships, but you also say that a person’s LGBT identity makes “literally no difference” in how you view them. But if you feel the need to adhere to your religion’s forbidding of same-sex relationships, I assume you accept that there is a good reason for this teaching, which can only be that same-sex relationships are in some way unacceptable or less acceptable than heterosexual relationships. Because why forbid something if there’s nothing wrong with it? And why follow a teaching that asserts that a particular thing is wrong if you yourself do not think that thing is wrong also? I can only think of two possible explanations for your position:

      a) you don’t really see how there is anything wrong with being gay or trans but you uncritically follow your religion’s rules anyway, just because they are the rules and you don’t feel the need to understand the moral purpose behind the rules that you follow in your own life.
      b) You do in fact believe that there is something wrong with being gay or trans

      If “a,” well, do you really think that’s such a good idea? If “b,” I don’t see how you can feel that way and have those feelings make NO difference to how you see LGBT people. Surely believing that someone is doing something wrong must make SOME difference in how you see them. And frankly, you don’t come off like an “a” type of person to me.

      • Red

        Petticoat Philosopher, sorry to jump in on your convo with Falls Apart, I hope you guys don’t mind me adding something to the stew here? I’ve been turning over this issue in my head–whether a fundamental disagreement with someone’s moral choice ultimately influences how you view them–and I keep returning to the example of my friendship with a woman whose religious beliefs are completely opposite of mine.

        She and I are literally almost complete opposites in our religious views, and for both of us, our religious views are a huge part of our individual identities. I believe that the God I look to is desperately important for humanity, and she believes very strongly that religion can be and often is damaging to people and should be escaped from if possible.

        We both hold views that could be called un-affirming toward each other’s positions, yet we are still friends. To come to “agreement” on this fundamental issue that is so different for us, one or both of us would have to lie to ourselves about what we really believe. But we don’t have to. I continue believing that the God I look to is important for humanity. She continues believing that I’m following something harmful. We do our best to love each other in spite of that, and so far, we’ve been pretty successful at exercising respect (at least, I hope I have as much as she has!)

        I think any disagreement will indeed influence how both sides see each other, and that’s true of any disagreement over any major moral/religious discussion. Christians need to be super careful because so often WE have been the aggressors and the ones who denied rights and the ones who stood on “the moral high ground” and threw stones. However, as per the example above, I really really hope that genuine love and acceptance can exist even in the face of humble disagreement (but the disagreement has to be humble. Christians are good at proving what happens when humility goes out the window).

      • Falls Apart

        I wouldn’t identify myself with (a) or (b). I do believe that there’s a genuinely good reason for the teachings, in that it’s an internally consistent philosophy about the meaning of sex which encompasses much, much than what gender not to be intimate with. If I didn’t think there was a good reason, I wouldn’t follow the teaching, because blindly following anything isn’t something that I do, ever. I do disagree with some of my religion’s conventionally accepted teachings, for no reason other than that they do not make sense to be rationally.

        However, the reason that others’ sexual preference and/or gender identity makes no difference in how I view them as people is that I do not avoid dating other women because there’s a rule against it, and I believe that this rule is totally obvious, no matter what angle you’re coming from, like rules against murder, stealing, rape, etc. Instead, I have a philosophy about what sex means, and that’s a philosophy that I don’t expect others to have. It’s personal. Everyone’s is. I don’t get upset when someone doesn’t agree with me about the existence of God, His/Her nature, and/or the best religious approach or lack thereof to Him/Her, because I don’t expect them to agree with me. They have their own views, I have mine, and that’s appropriate. Same with this.

        So, if you can understand my not having a problem with other people holding different philosophical views from what I do, then you can see that my having a problem with other people not following me in expressing this philosophy would be laughable. My saying, “You and I can have different views on the meaning of sex, and that’s okay”, implies that I’m also fine with other people expressing their philosophy. Doing otherwise would be like saying that I can accept that someone doesn’t believe in God or Catholicism, but they’d still better show up at Sunday Mass.

        I’m not sure if I’m making sense here, and feel free to tell me if I’m not, but it boils down to this: I don’t care whether or not someone is actively LGBT, because my decision to be inactive is as personal as my religious and dietary views. If that decision were a value I applied to other people, such as my objection to violence, then I suppose it would make a difference in how I look at LGBTs. I’ve just gotten used to the fact that my approach to sex, theology, and life in general is my own, and learned to appreciate the beauty of others’.

  • http://jewelfox.dreamwidth.org Taryn Fox

    “I love you, but I want to cure you so you won’t be autistic anymore. I’m tired of you giving us a hard time and embarrassing us out in public.”

    It was through reading about disability and autism rights that I realized, for the first time, that being gay was something I could relate to. And that it wasn’t wrong for them to be who they were, either.

    • Judy L.

      It’s absolutely not wrong for autistic people to be who they are. The two people I love most in this world are autistic, and it is part of what makes them who they are. But autism is a disorder, where homosexuality is not, and it can be disabling (the only problem with being gay is the problem that other people have with it). If there were a biomedical cure or treatment for autism I would want it for my niece and nephew, but not because the world judges them harshly (that’s the world’s bloody problem) or because it would make life easier for me or for their parents, but for their own sake.

      I am glad that there is such an increased awareness these days about the fact that everybody has a right to exist and to be in the world. I wish that more people understood that the challenges that an autistic person faces every day are plenty enough without having to deal with other people’s intolerance, prejudical judgement, and lack of empathy.

      • Anat

        If there were a biomedical cure or treatment for autism I would want it for my niece and nephew, but not because the world judges them harshly (that’s the world’s bloody problem) or because it would make life easier for me or for their parents, but for their own sake.

        OTOH many autistic people are against ‘curing’ autism, even if such a treatment were to make their lives easier. They see their autism as a mixed blessing, and value the advantages more than what might have been gained by them being neurotypical.

      • Judy L.

        Anat: Autistic people who are against curing autism are able to express those wishes, and those wishes should be respected, and treatment should never be compulsory. My niece is severly autistic and has intellectual and learning disabilities (she’s also sweet and affectionate and objectively the most beautiful little girl in the world). I don’t think she’s capabable of valuing her neuro-atypicalness, and I know that she would be happier if she were better able to express her needs and desires, be more indepedent, and not have the anxieties associated with her autism.

      • Christine

        There are also some of us who are very “high functioning” and would dearly like to be “normal”. I question if my abilities which could be tied to an ASD actually are, and (I suspect because I’m relatively “high-functioning”) I can see ways in which life would be easier if I could just communicate with people.

  • Christine

    Libby, you address something that’s rankled with me for a while, and this is a forum where I actually feel I can address it. With all Queer issues the point is made that “this is part of their identity”, but then a lot of people seem to like to make it into the entire identity. It would be horribly offensive to identify me as “someone who’s attracted to men”. (That’s completely ignoring the fact that I’m monogamous). Or even something as simple as expecting me to go to an event celebrating the fact that I’m a woman. Why am I expected to see it as a big deal with someone comes out of the closet to me, or see Pride as a sensible event, let alone such an important one? If you’re straight and cis-gendered, think about how low on the list those items are in terms of how you identify yourself.

    Or a more straightforward case – if I complained that I was called “sir”, or someone used masculine pronouns with me, I’d look like a complete idiot for caring (with good reason). But that’s as a cis-gendered woman. When a trans-woman complains, it’s seen as someone who was experiencing discrimination.

    I just feel like the Queer community has self-marginalized, what am I missing?

    • Paula G V aka Yukimi

      It’s mostly privilege and I’m not saying it to chastise you or anything. For putting an example, a cis-gendered woman who has a more masculinized appearance and it’s constantly called sir and has her femenity ignored or erased by the people in her world will feel put down or worse by these acts, an obese person can also feel undermined with the way society treats them and discrimined in jobs, … LGBTQ have it pretty hard and specially trans* people are only recently able to get some of the rights most of us take for granted. For you it isn’t a big deal to be called sir but you can’t use your own experience to negate others. It’s hard to imagine how it is to be gay or trans* if you aren’t and you can’t imagine the kind of sh*t they have to put up with everyday, the same way assuming you aren’t black, you can’t really imagine what’s being stopped by the police and treated like a criminal while you were just going for a walk because of the colour of your skin.

      About the pride parade or the slut walks or … those are important because they mean something. The pride parade started as a remembrance of the stonewall raids and as a way to show the rest of the population that the queer existed and they were n0t scared and were going to run away or hide. You might like them or not but they certainly are important (there are LGBTQ people that wouldn’t go to one even if they pay them for it so you aren’t alone in your feelings). The slut walks are an example in the women rights movement that also scandalises some people and it’s partly of why it works.

      I don’t know why you think they have self-marginalised, perhaps if you explained a little bit more? LGBTQ people are discriminated against in jobs, housing, … They are still killed. If you are a black transwoman you are probably at a highest risk of being violently assaulted than any other group in the US. It’s not like they are choosing to be discriminated. I get the feeling that you think that if they were so bad, they would accept any kind of “ally”, even someone who considered them “sinful” or homosexuality wrong but wasn’t going to beat them to a pulp…

      Uff, I always write too much… well, to finish, most trans* people won’t get angry at you if you confuse the pronoun you use with them if you try to improve and apologise for getting it wrong (most people understand it’s not easy to change pronounce form one day to the next). It’s people who always get it wrong and blame the trans* person for “making it so hard on them” that make some people angry. Of course there are jerks everywhere, LGBTQ community included.

      • Christine

        The fact that I knew privilege played into it is a large part of why I haven’t said it earlier – it would come across as critical when I’m mostly confused. It could be that the condemnations I have heard of the wrong pronoun being used were people doing it deliberately.

        I fully understand that there is real marginalization, I’m sorry that I expressed that there wasn’t. What confused me was that the response to “you’re treating us differently in a bad way” was “treat us in a way that you would find offensive if you were treated”. I’m not saying that the solution is for them to ignore the differences, but the ways in which the differences are celebrated can be very offensive to a lot of people.

        As an example: there is a big uproar over the fact that Toronto’s mayor has been making excuses not to go to the Pride parade, and this eventually led to a letter in the national news magazine (we really only have one) saying that being comfortable at Pride and being comfortable with homosexuality were not at all the same thing. I have to agree. (Not that I’m particularly comfortable with same-sex relationships, I’m at a place similar to Falls Apart, but I feel discomfort comparable to what I feel around an unmarried cohabitating couple). I can see that there’s an important cultural significance to Pride.
        However, if I was asked to participate in a different kind of pro-LGBTQ event as part of my job, I would do so. (I’m not saying I’d like it, but that’s as much because it would feel too much like the ‘yay, you’re a woman, celebrate your genitals’ events that I hate as anything else). But had I not seen how the mayor of Toronto was condemned as homophobic for skipping the Pride parade, I would have been inclined to do the same. Being uncomfortable with people showing their genitals (or simply not wanting to be a part of that) shouldn’t be seen as homophobic, but now it is.

        I’m just worried that because of that, there’s a class of “well, if you have to be comfortable with that sort of tackiness to not be homophobic, I guess I’m homophobic, and good thing”. There’s more to sexual identity than just what is in pride.

        I hope that made sense, and didn’t ramble too badly.

      • Ibis3

        You are not the mayor of Toronto. If you want to stay at home because you don’t like Pride because it’s “tacky”, no one cares. The mayor is supposed to be the mayor of everyone though. Deliberately not attending Pride (and let’s face it, he wouldn’t have to participate in the parade if he didn’t want to — he could go to the flag-raising and some other event during the festival) when it has become a tradition for the mayor to do so is basically saying “I don’t support equality for LGBT people”. It’s part of his job as the elected leader of the city to express such support; it doesn’t matter what his personal feelings on the matter are. It’s like a doctor who refuses to treat black people or a pharmacist who refuses to dispense birth control prescribed by a physician.

      • Christine

        No, that’s exactly what I was saying. I did not realise, until the controversy, that refusing to go to the parade was seen as a statement against LGBTQ equality. Even when he did go to the flag raising he still caught a lot of fire for skipping the parade.

    • Maggy

      There are identity development models that address how people come to terms with being a member of an underrepresented group. One stage is called immersion where people reject majority group values and totally plunge into the culture of the group with which they identify. Some folks stay in this stage for a long time or even indefinitely. Others breeze through and barely spend any time there as they move on to integrate this identity in with their other parts of their lives. Folks who are immersed in an aspect of their identity are often seen as “in your face” because of both the rejection of “mainstream” values and very vocal celebration of their culture.

    • NotHerTheOtherOne

      Warning: long comment ahead. A couple of other commenters have already responded and said the gist of what I was going to say, but I figured I’d add an analogy.

      It’s easy to say that “straight and cis-gendered” is low on the list of ways you identify yourself, because most of the world’s population identifies as straight and cisgendered. It’s seen as the normal default for humanity, to the point that it’s just assumed, and no one really thinks about it. It’s like how you probably don’t spend much time thinking about how many hands you have. But someone born with an extra hand probably thinks about it a lot, because they have to accomodate this other hand that society assumes no one has.

      That’s what privilege means, in this context. It means you have an advantage that you don’t even think about, don’t even see, because you’ve been told all your life that this is normal.

      There’s also the history of discrimination and prejudice faced by people who are not straight and/or cisgendered. Taking pride in something that society tells you is shameful is a way of defying the elements of society that attack you, and making people like yourself highly visible is a way to show the general population your humanity. There’s no straight pride parade because there’s nothing for straight people to defy in that way, and straight people do not suffer the effects of dehumanizing treatment in the general culture because of their straightness.

      Similarly, if someone calls you “sir,” you can pretty safely assume that it was just a mistake, with no meaning beyond that. A transgendered woman cannot make that assumption. There are too many people who refuse to accept that she is a woman, and who will not keep it to themselves. This can be very dangerous for her, as Paula G V aka Yukimi said–it’s not just an annoyance. Even in a safe environment, every wrong pronoun is a reminder of the struggles she has had to face.

      I’m writing this based on what I’ve read from people who’ve been there. I hope I’m not stepping on any toes here. If I’m wrong about something, I won’t be offended at getting corrected.

      • Christine

        For obvious reasons I have limited understanding of how not belonging to the privileged group feels. (Yes, I am a woman, but even then a lot of the problems don’t apply to me, as I’m from an upper-middle class, well educated background and between that and my Asperger’s have been nicely insulated). To try once again and say how the arguments confuse me: I have heard a number of arguments which do try to draw a parallel between identifying as straight and identifying as gay. i.e. saying that telling someone not to be gay is the same as telling someone not to be straight. I wasn’t trying to say that all the arguments I’ve heard end up marginalizing the groups they’re supposed to protect, but that one seems to. Maybe it’s just that in drawing the comparison between the privileged group and the non-privileged one it got harder for me to remember the presence of privilege.

        The comment was largely trying to say that a lot of the arguments seem somewhat self-defeating. For example, the argument that gay people can’t just change their orientation, if you believe they can then why don’t you become gay. Aside from the fact that that has nothing to do with the debate, there’s also the ridiculous assumption that we, as individuals, are attracted to a group of people, rather than as a series of individuals. I could, in theory, see if I was attracted to women, but given that I’m married that would be incredibly wrong. You would suggest that I see if I was attracted to a man who wasn’t my husband, now, would you? The problem then becomes “well that’s a stupid argument, if that’s what they’ve got then why should I listen to them”. Somewhat like how “well of course you shouldn’t believe in evolution, because then the Bible is false, and if it’s false then there’s no reason to disapprove of homosexuality” is a great argument against young earth creationism.

      • NotHerTheOtherOne

        Replying to myself because there’s no reply button for Christine’s last post.

        You’re right that people are attracted to individuals, rather than to groups. However, that doesn’t change the fact that most of the individuals a person finds attractive will share some characteristics, and can be categorized accordingly. It is perfectly reasonable to say, “well, ‘gay’ is just shorthand for ‘most people you’re attracted to present as the same gender as you,’ and that’s not a statement on what kind of person you are.” But society is not reasonable about this.

        No one can make themselves be attracted to a person. Either you are or you aren’t. And if you’re told that all the people you find attractive are the wrong people, you can’t make yourself be attracted to the right people. That’s what the “gay people can’t just change their orientation, if you believe they can then why don’t you become gay” argument means.

      • Steve

        You can be attracted to people you’re not married to. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s perfectly normal. It’s only wrong to act on it without your partner knowing about it. Stop need to stop punishing yourself for thought crimes.

        And everyone is attracted to groups. They’re just very large ones. Gay men attracted to the group “men” and lesbians are attracted to the group “women”. That doesn’t mean they’re attracted to all of them. Of course everyone has a certain type of people they prefer. That doesn’t mean that attraction in general can’t be classified in some way.

      • Christine

        You know, it might be a case that some of the problems I have with LGBTQ activists are the same ones that I have with vocal feminists (particularly the ones I had to read in my Women’s Studies’ class, which tells you how anti-feminist I considered myself). They are coming from different perspectives, and that puts their arguments at cross-purposes. Yes, it would be stupid to argue that women and men are the same, but that one advantage of having more women in positions of authority will make for a gentler society. The only reason it looks like that argument is being made is that people are making both of those.

        Similiarly, arguments that “it’s a crucial part of who we are and can’t be changed” and “look, we’re just like you” are being made by different people, and that’s why they’re confusing.

        That being said, I’m still uncomfortable with the argument that equates being able to be attracted to multiple people at once to being able to choose your gender preference. This might be because of the explanation I heard once in high school. One guy was very seriously (and possibly honestly believing that he was helping dispell myths about homosexuality) explaining that being gay is different. You know how you’re only attracted to some girls? Gays are attracted to all guys.

      • Anat

        To Christine:
        I could, in theory, see if I was attracted to women, but given that I’m married that would be incredibly wrong. You would suggest that I see if I was attracted to a man who wasn’t my husband, now, would you?

        You mean the moment you formed a committed relationship you automatically ignore how other people look (and act and sound etc)? I find this hard to comprehend.

      • Christine

        I’m getting a message here that there are people who are capable of being attracted to more than one person at a time. That makes the argument a lot less stupid. (Still incomprehensible to me, but I can see that it might make sense to others).

      • Rosie

        Christine, I think most people are capable of (or can’t help) being attracted to more than one person at a time. Despite the persistent cultural myths to the contrary.

      • Christine

        They’re not just persistent, they’re convincing. I had always thought that the idea of having a “type” or there being characteristics (beyond “being person X”) that someone was attracted to was a myth. (On a par with being attracted to someone you’ve never met.)

      • Anat

        Christine, if people were only attracted to one specific person at a time we wouldn’t have had an advertising industry that was based on the attractiveness of models and actors. And aesthetically appealing people wouldn’t have advantages in employment and social interactions. This level of attraction is usually not a big deal. You see (or sometimes hear) someone and a part of your brain says, “oh yum”. For most people it’s not a threat to their respective relationships, though if the person they are attracted to is someone they interact with it will influence things like how much they listen to the person and so forth.

      • Steve

        There is nothing convincing about it. It’s downright silly. “Attraction” doesn’t mean love. It can be as little as noticing that some else is good looking and having sexual thoughts about them. That happens all the time. And contrary to Christian dogma it’s not the same as adultery. Christianity loves to punish thought “crimes”, but no one is hurt by having sexual thoughts about someone who isn’t your partner. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them anymore.

  • Watry

    I’m going to add another question to the list. How much of this ‘hate the sin, love the sinner’ thing is based on–well, most hardcore Christians identify GLBT as a behavior rather than an orientation. I think this is why they don’t pick up on the idea that they’re hating someone’s identity.

  • Ibis3

    I just wanted to question the lumping in of alcoholism and drug addiction as “sins” comparable to murdering people. Yes, substance abuse and addiction can cause harm and that harm can be widespread, but it’s much more akin to an illness (in fact, it is often the result of self-medication for other illnesses or traumatic stress). It’s an unhealthy behaviour that can often be treated and modified given the correct tools. This is unlike both homosexuality (a natural variety in human sexuality that results in pleasure, not harm) and murderous violence (barring those who kill as a result of mental illness).

    • Aaron

      This is an important statement. Recognition of addiction as an illness rather than as “bad behavior” is not only true, but it has lead to statistically better rates of treatment (and lower rates of recidivism) in the countries that have internalized it (the Netherlands and Portugal, being prime examples where decriminalization and the illness ethic have had marked results).

  • Aaron

    It feels like this might be a relatively small semantic point, but I don’t think it can justifiably be said that someone cannot love the person they say they love just because they hate an aspect of that person. Human beings are limitlessly irrational, and holding ideas in our heads that are logically contradictory is not only common, but it’s almost guaranteed that every single person is doing it at pretty much any given time. At most, “you don’t actually love that person” is a rhetorical tactic, not really a meaningful phrase.

    The important point, to me, is that these people, who DO love whoever’s sin they’re hating, are needlessly hurting those people who they, nevertheless, love. In other words, I don’t really give much of a damn about the intentions–if someone is hurting someone else who doesn’t deserve it, they need to be informed about that, and they need to stop hurting that somone, whether or not love has anything to do with their motives. It’s the same reason why “Oh, they just don’t know why that’s racist,” is a terrible argument for letting a person continue to be racist.

  • mockingidiots

    5000 whining atheists vs the Great Prophet

    http://www.ottawaskeptics.org/forum?func=view&id=4560&catid=3

  • Jeanne

    What if being gay were a choice? Would that make the way they treat us right? Religious belief is a choice and it’s protected by federal laws.
    I’m a lesbian and I know that my attraction to women was never a choice. However, it always amazes me that whether it’s a choice is such a core part of this whole debate.
    I am discriminated against for a characteristic I was born with. And if it had been a choice, discriminating against me is still WRONG!
    P.S. I’m a dedicated and adoring follower of your blog.

    • Judy L.

      No kidding, Jeanne. I’ve always seen the “is it a choice” debate for precisely what it is: a distraction strategy. For so long, gays and lesbians have felt that they have to prove the validity and value of who they are and who they love and respond to the anti-gay rhetoric that homosexuality is an intentional rejection of “traditional” personal and social relationships and simply a willful degeneration into hedonism and decadence. So long as the debate is centered on whether identifying as gay or having same-sex relationships is a “choice”, the focus remains on homosexuality as the issue, rather than the real problem of the bigotry of those who we have to assume are choosing to be bigots.

    • Steve

      Of course it shouldn’t matter if it’s a choice, but in some instances it’s a useful argument. For example a particularly stupid line is “If everyone were a gay, the human species would die out”. That can easily be countered with the fact that the LGTB population is pretty constant and doesn’t exceed around 7% or so (never mind the actual numbers).

      • smrnda

        Plus, Jesus didn’t have sex and Paul didn’t either (or at least so the Bible says) so why aren’t Christians worried about celibacy? If everyone was celibate (which Paul argues is a better choice) there would be no reproduction.

        Just to add, it’s kind of a pretty degrading slam against marriage that Paul sees it as nothing but an outlet for sexual desires that a person can’t control.

      • Steve

        Paul seemed to have the same personal issues with his sexuality as Augustine of Hippo and madly projected them on everyone else. Augustine’s self-loathing and struggle with his own desires are well documented in his writings. It’s really telling that the two people who came up with the Christian core doctrines were pretty much sexually dysfunctional.

  • Judy L.

    Libby,

    I think it’s entirely possible for a parent to feel love for their child whose behaviour or identity they abhor, just as your parents feel love for you even though they don’t know you. But there’s an important difference between the love that a parent feels for their child and the love they demonstrate through loving actions that the child can experience. There is a difference between love and loving. A parent who rejects their gay or trans child but claims to love them can’t have their feelings of love denied, no one can know what’s in their heart. But feeling love for someone isnt’ the same as loving them Perhaps that’s one of the problems with Christian morality, especially some of the more modern versions, where faith and belief and feeling count as much and sometimes more than actions and works. The love you feel for someone, just like faith, is personal, only you experience it.

    • Rosie

      It’s also worthwhile to keep in mind that their deity claims to love them unconditionally, but will condemn them to eternal torment if they believe the wrong things. So people who claim to “love the sinner, hate the sin” are pretty thoroughly steeped in the cognitive dissonance necessary to claim a loving cause for hateful actions.

    • smrnda

      If someone told me they loved me, and hated a lot of things about me and wanted me to change, then it’s just a bunch of empty words they are using to make themselves feel better and perhaps to create a feeling of obligation in me to change. In the end, “love” like that is grade-A bullshit. The “I love you but I don’t like this grocery list of things about you” is more like an assertion of ownership than love. I’d argue that, within reason, accepting someone as they are is a prerequisite to love that’s actually meaningful.

      I guess my take is, if someone says they love me, it’s my call whether that’s true or not.

      • Rosie

        Oh, I agree smrnda. Which is also why I’m not a Christian anymore.

      • Anne Marie Hovgaard

        The reason why these people think this is “love” is that they’ve been taught that the non-consensual* Master/slave relationship they are in with their god is love.

        *It was in most cases entered into before the age of consent + the threat of hell (so much worse than a gun held to their head) is used to keep them from questioning it.

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  • http://peterscrossstation.wordpress.com/ Shannon LC Cate

    Lots of people do have a choice–people on the bisexual spectrum could wind up in love with someone of either gender. Now, who you actually fall in love with on a person-to-person basis isn’t so much of a choice.

    But I think that insistence on choice has to be coming from people who have less than 100% heterosexual orientations themselves and feel THEY have chosen–chosen not to act on their same-sex attractions. Because like you say, most 100% straight people (if there are any such things, which there probably aren’t, but anyway as close as it gets) faced with the question “when did you realize you were straight?” are going to remember the first crush that was not a bit of a choice. Faced with “could YOU choose to be gay instead?” They would doubtless blanch. And so these people could be persuaded easily enough.

    It’s the closet cases who hate themselves for feeling some same-sex attraction that they have learned to stifle who think the rest of the queers should all do likewise.

    My humble 2 cents.

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