When you listen to homophobic people explain their point of view, you will often hear some very peculiar things. Now, when I say homophobic, I include anyone who is against gay marriage, gays in the military, and any other discriminatory points of view you can think of. Their reasons usually include a word that in no way belongs in the conversation. That word is “choice”.
I always hear things like “it’s a lifestyle choice” and “if they choose to do that, it’s not my problem.” Recently, Carl Paladino (who recently ran for Governor of NY State) even said that it’s wrong for children to be “brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option.” But, where is this word ‘option’ coming from?
As a heterosexual, I don’t remember there ever being a time where I chose to be attracted to women. After puberty I didn’t take a look at some men and some women and think “hmm.. I know most people want to sleep with women, but those men are preeeetty tempting!” For that matter, I don’t remember there ever being a time where I chose to like ice cream or chose to dislike the smell of horses either. That’s because nobody chooses what they prefer, they just enjoy the things they like, and avoid the things they don’t.
So why is it that homophobic people just don’t seem to get this? Well here’s one possible solution that helps put my mind to rest:
Let’s say you were a homosexual man (and if you really are a homosexual man you can still play along). You come to a point in your life where you know very well that most men are attracted to women, but you find yourself mysteriously drawn to men. Your church tells you that homosexuality is a sin, and you know your family would frown upon it if you were gay. So what you do, even though it’s less pleasurable, is go for the women. You get married, have a family, and you’re very proud of yourself because this was quite an accomplishment. You think that this is how most men must feel, and that’s why the bible was making such a big deal out of it. Life is a struggle!
Now you see some openly gay people and you think to yourself “that’s not fair! They took the easy way out!” To you, resisting this temptation was one of your major accomplishments in life; a sacrifice that you had to make. Why should these people who chose the easy route be entitled to the same privileges as you?
And there it is: the choice. This was not a choice to be gay, but only a choice to be honest with oneself. You often hear about people who are openly against homosexuality getting caught having a gay affair (Ted Haggard comes to mind), and then their defense is that they were “tempted by the devil and gave in to that temptation.” Well I have some news for these people: There is no such thing as a temptation to have a gay affair when you’re straight, you’re just gay! (or at LEAST bisexual!) As a heterosexual, I never look at a man and think “I know he looks yummy, but I must resist” because I am actually a straight man, and not just playing the role of one to avoid judgment. I don’t ‘resist’ men for the same exact reason I don’t look at a horse and fight my temptation to sniff it’s… well you get the picture. There’s nothing to resist!
Nobody ever chose to be gay or straight, but any attack on openly gay people is an attack on honesty. If you aren’t ashamed of your society for preventing gay people from marrying and openly serving in the military, you’ve got some serious soul-searching to do.
Update: This video goes perfectly with this post. Special thanks to Alec N. for contributing.