Saturday, February 9, 2013

Are Gay People Born That Way? And Does It Matter?

Disclaimer:  I strongly support and advocate for gay rights.  Same sex couples should be able to marry, have children (including adoption) and enjoy the full extent of freedom that exists in our country without judgment or discrimination. 

That being said, as I watch the way gay people go about this quest for equality, I have come to believe that the argument of, 'we can't help it, we were born that way' is actually harmful to their cause.

Sorry, Gaga.

This thought was sparked again when I read that Nate Berkus told Oprah how he explained his homosexuality to his dad. He said, 'why would I choose to make my life more difficult'?'  To which his dad responded, 'If you say you were born this way, and you didn't have a choice, then we're good.'

So, as long as gay people wouldn't choose to be gay, they're acceptable?  Why is the acceptance of gays cloaked in the helplessness of their actions?  What's wrong with deciding on a same sex relationship just because one wants to? 

Consider how anti-gay rights advocates might interpret Nate Berkus' statement and use it as evidence that even gay people know their relationships are inherently wrong:

If I could be straight, that would be so much better, but I was born defective and now I can't control my unnatural urges.  Who would choose to be this miserable?  Please don't sever our relationship because I have no control over my choices and need your sympathy and compassion.  Gee, I wish things were different, but I'm stuck with this affliction and have been since birth.

As consenting adults, we have the right to love who we love and create the lifestyle that works for us at any given point in our lives.  Yes, some people know from a very young age that they are gay.  Others live much of their adult lives in opposite sex relationships first, or they move between same sex and opposite sex relationships throughout their lives.  It's different for everyone.

My advice?  Drop the 'we can't help it, we were born that way' argument and advocate from the perspective of your own right to choose who you will love.  Because when seeking equal rights in a land that claims to be free, it shouldn't matter if you were born that way or not.

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  1. I agree. Whether or not it's true, this rhetoric makes homosexuality sound like a handicap. Women, minorities, LGBT etc. deserve equal rights because they're people, not because they can't help being born inferior and we should take pity on them.

    1. Hi Elisa - Yeah, this position has been bugging me for a long time. The nature/nurture argument seems irrelevant here, but it does serve to divert our attention from the real issue.

  2. What an accurate observation and what a substantial post. Thank you dear Josephine :-)

    1. bradamante, welcome! Glad you liked the post - thanks for your kind comment.

  3. I've never seen this voiced by anyone before.


  4. This is a great post! I agree that perpetuating the attitude that being gay is somehow defective or that one would ideally choose another way is NOT the path to equality. Apologizing for who you are is the opposite of real freedom and keeps you a slave to ignorance and intolerance..women already know this.

    You are right on with this one...good job!

  5. Hi Mermaid - thanks for your comment. And you're right, women know this concept well. No apologies...just live your life.

  6. Thanks for sharing……………………..
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