The "Ex-Gay" Myth and Why it Failed Me Read More!

choiceOne of the most critical elements of our political discussion over LGBT equality has been the constant battle over whether or not sexual orientation is an inherent part of a person’s life. Anti-equality activists even make the claim that they would possibly relent on their work to deny us our rights if — if — science were to somehow prove without any doubt that sexual orientation is, in fact, genetic.

Then, they say, they would finally have the evidence they require to treat us as human beings. Until then, they steadfastly hold that our sexuality is a choice we make, and is nothing more than “behavior.” The bottom line is that in their eyes, behavior does not deserve legal protection.

But let’s be clear. They don’t care if there is a choice.

The problem with our anti-equality neighbors isn’t that they trust science to come up with some kind of solid proof that people are born gay or not. The reality is that we don’t know why a small percentage of the human population is sexually drawn to members of the same sex. I’m pretty confident that we may never know.

But let’s be honest. Our anti-equality friends aren’t exactly known for embracing science. After all, this is the same bunch who refuses to embrace evolution as a fact. Remember, to them it’s “just a theory” as if a scientific theory is something pulled out of one’s nether regions and presented as an idea for all of us to embrace blindly. These are the same people who refuse to accept global warming. These are the same people who refuse to accept the fact that the earth is not less than 10,000 years old. Science isn’t exactly their forte.

I don’t think the question is whether or not we are working so hard to have their acceptance. The real question is this: Why are we letting them control the conversation?

The reality is that groups like the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, and the National Organization for Marriage (yes, two of them are certified SPLC hate groups) are not even hiding their anti-gay agenda any more. Those who follow their “leadership” are either being led like a pied piper or have bought their lies hook, line, and sinker.

Their fight would be so much easier if we would understand that it is a choice.

NOM, especially, has been particularly active in the international scene in their attempts to keep the gays under the thumb of religious bigotry. They’re not even limiting their efforts to fight marriage equality. RightWingWatch reports that Brian Brown was heavily involved in the Russian anti-gay culture up to and including working to support a bill to ban adoption by gays.

In fact, all we need to do in order to understand what our anti-equality neighbors are fighting for is to take a look at Russia. A ban on gay “propaganda.” A ban on gay adoption. Embracing near universal homophobia. A climate that encourages thugs to beat up and abuse gay teens to the point of murder. This is the anti-gay utopia.

After all, it’s a choice. Right?

In their minds, there is no sexual orientation. Just sexual activity. We all have a choice of the people with whom we have sex, so why should we make the claim that sexual attraction is a choice?

To our right wing anti-gay friends and “ex-gay” folk, there is also no such thing as sexual orientation. In their minds, it’s “unwanted same-sex attractions.” This is something for them to root out of us. It’s a culture built on guilt, shame, self-hate, and presents impossible ideals for those who look for ways to put an end to those “SSAs” and be “real Christians.”

it’s a choice, you see.

We can make the choice to fight against those “SSAs” and to stop having those sexual encounters. We can make the choice to live with shame and guilt. We can choose to hide in the shadows and allow the biased blind bigotry of religious impersonation to control the conversation over the complexities of human sexuality. These are the choices that are demanded of us. And yes, it is a choice.

It is a choice between freedom and bondage.

I’m not talking about choosing between religion and atheism. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m not even talking about the myth that sexual orientation is a “choice.”

But we do have a choice. Many of them, in fact.

Our first choice is to discard the myths and embrace the reality of sexual orientation. I was speaking with my mother recently after we lost my great aunt. I found a photo of myself as a teenager standing with her. And my God, did I look totally gay. I wasn’t out even to myself at the time, and I look back at those times with a fair amount of amusement.

“That’s another confirmation picture,” Mom said. “One look at that, and we should have known.” She says that with an affirming smile. But let’s be honest. Ask any mom to a gay kid. They know. They always know. They know before we do! How I long for the day where coming out will consist of nothing more than, “Yes, dear. We know you’re gay. Hope your boyfriend is a good guy. Now pass the butter.”

The mystery of the choice remains.

Through all of our struggles, our battles, and our fights, I submit that there is indeed a choice. Not one of orientation. Like I said, we may never fully know why some of us are gay and most aren’t. And that’s okay. No matter what we learn or do not learn, we have a clear choice — to never allow the uninformed mind of bigotry or the shallow excuse of dogmatic rigor to define our conversation. In fact, it’s long past time for their kind to be show the door; to be replaced with those who understand that life isn’t simple, and neither is our sexuality. But even then, that is not the choice.

Our choice, dear friends, is simple.

We must choose to be. How we choose to finish that sentence depends on who we are. Whether we choose to be an ally, a gay man or a lesbian woman, these choices are not one of orientation — but one of identity. It’s not just a matter of self-acceptance. It’s more than being comfortable in our own skin.

It’s victory. It’s strength. It is looking into the mirror and saying to ourselves, YES. THIS is who we are. THIS is who I am. THIS is who i will become.

We must make the choice to shake off the shackles of guilt, the chains of shame, and the yoke of self-loathing. We must make this choice for our own sanity, our own self-reliance, and our own self-worth.

It doesn’t mean that we become an activist, or even part of any club. It’s a choice to stand to be a leader — not in title, but in presence. We choose to stand tall, to stand with our brethren, and we choose to stand to hold back the tide of hate, ignorance, and bigotry once and for all.

Yes, dear reader. It IS a choice. Just like the anti-gay world has chosen to attack us to the very core, we must stand with sheer strength and pure integrity. For THIS is who we are. Gay. Straight. Bisexual. Transgender. Man. Woman.

Who will never, ever, let lies, deceit, and treachery control the conversation ever again.

I made that choice. Will you?

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13 Responses to It IS a Choice.

  1. Clearly you have not understood the importance of having 100% inerrant scripture to these people. If we cold shake them out of that obsession, we might make some progress.

  2. Oh, I understand it well. I just think we need to stop letting them control the conversation.

  3. As usual, David, I love it!

    <<"Ask any mom to a gay kid. They know. They always know. They know before we do! How I long for the day where coming out will consist of nothing more than, “Yes, dear. We know you’re gay. Hope your boyfriend is a good guy. Now pass the butter.”>>

    In my case that also applies to Dads. My Dad's reaction to my coming out was "You're my son; nothing can change that," and I realized later on that he had me figured out when I was around six. Mom also knew beforehand, but she kicked like a mule for a few years until Dad told her to knock it off or she would lose me.

    Parents know their kids, and if they don't then they have dropped the ball somewhere along the line.

  4. David, as usual, your comments are thought provoking, well written, and intelligent. However, not without controversy. Also, as usual, I agree with much of what you say, until I read the "nasty" straight bashing comments that make us ALL look like Neanderthal, knuckle dragging, bigots!

    "Then, they say, they would finally have the evidence they require to treat us as human beings. Until then, they steadfastly hold that our sexuality is a choice we make, and is nothing more than “behavior.” The bottom line is that in their eyes, behavior does not deserve legal protection."

    This is a nasty attack on ALL straight people, who might not be "in your corner". I understand that you have a particular ax to grind with the "organizations" that you specifically name in this article, but do you really believe this applies to every straight person who isn't "on your side"?

    "…evidence they require to treat us as human beings." I find that statement to be pretty offensive. I do NOT believe that I don't treat gay people as "human beings". I have, in my lifetime, worked closely with gay men, had gay friends, and I have some gay members of my family, none of whom I'm close to, but that's a matter of geography, more so than social treatment. I have never treated these people as "less than human beings". I am NOT a bigot, who wishes to embarrass, mistreat, discriminate against, or deny them their basic human rights and liberties due to ALL human beings!

    "…The bottom line is that in their eyes, behavior does not deserve legal protection." Do YOU, David, believe that "BEHAVIOR" should be a basis for "legal protections"? If that were so, then we should have legal protections, set up protected classes of people that give anti discrimination legal protections to people like;

    fat people
    drug addicted people
    alcohol addicted people
    homeless people
    people with bright green hair
    gun owners
    people with fast sports cars
    lazy people
    people, who don't take baths
    and this list goes on….

    Look, I understand your point. You DO NOT believe that sexual orientation is a "choice", but you're saying, so what if it is? Is that a reason to treat us like less than human and deny us our civil rights? Well, unless you answer yes to the question I just posed and agree that list of people should all have "legal protections" based upon their behavioral "CHOICES", then I guess yes, we shouldn't be creating protected classes of people based upon their "choices".

    But simply not forming another protected class of people under anti discrimination laws doesn't mean that we believe these people are less than human, not worthy of being treated with dignity and respect. Yes, you might get that from those organizations that you named, and their members, but to lump ALL straight people into those same categories is just as dishonest as saying that all gay men lurk in public bathrooms exposing themselves to strangers for sexual thrills! NEITHER is TRUE!

    So, I thank you for your article, as always, it's thought provoking. But they could be just as thought provoking without the straight bashing. I wonder if it's possible for you to even write an article like that? Or is straight bashing acceptable in your world, while gay bashing isn't? Isn't that a little hypocritical? But I guess the answer to that question would be, "It's not hypocritical if the bashing isn't really bashing, but is instead, the telling of TRUTH about straight people!"

  5. Joe, I am very specific about the mindset and behavior that I assail in this piece. I have never gone into "straight bashing" nor will I ever. And if you actually read the piece, you would know that sexual orientation is a very real thing, and has absolutely nothing to do with behavior. Please stop playing this game. Frankly, Joe, if you have to say you're not a bigot, you probably are.

    The very fact that you obstinately refuse to accept the fact that sexual orientation is innate, despite the very real fact that it IS, is a form of bigotry. And you need to get over it.

    So, no. there is no "straight bashing." Only the bashing of "religious impersonators," "dogmatic rigor," "right wing anti-gay" nonsense, and those who continue to push against basic equality for LGBT people. Frankly, most straight people DO support equality, so the premise of your complaint is flawed from the outset. Frankly, if this is a picture of all of the straight people you know, then you really need to reconsider your circle of friends. Because they are a clear, tiny percentage of the rest of straight America.

    With that in mind, do stop trying to pretend you're not a bigot. And grow a pair. Embrace your bigoted view or recognize it for what it is and resolve to make a difference in your own life. YES, I'm calling you a bigot. YOU, Mr. Schwenz, refuse to accept that sexual orientation is a reality. That is a BIGOTED view. The reason it is a BIGOTED view is because nearly the entire rest of the American civilized world understands that some people are gay, and that's who they are — and they (we) never made any choice to be attracted to members of the same sex. By refusing to accept this simple, real fact, you are a bigot in the very clear definition of Webster's Dictionary:

    Bigot: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices

    I'm tired of playing your game. Your entire, silly rant was based on the view that I am bashing straights, and the very WRONG assumption that gays make a choice to be attracted to people of the same sex. Neither of which is true.

    You also make the incorrect assumption that I want anyone who views me as less of a human being to be in my corner. I want them to be shamed, shunned, and put in their place. They ARE the neanderthals. And they have no place in today's society. They should either go into their compounds and wait for the imaginary rapture to happen, or they should crack open a book and learn real science. Until then, I am through trying to appease them. They are not "straights." They are the sad, tired remnants of the Scopes Monkey Trial era, and they are best left in the dustbin of history.

    And frankly, no, you do not understand my point. My point is that sexual orientation is NOT a choice, but we have a choice as people to stand up and be the men and women we ARE. Embrace the things we cannot change about ourselves, and own them. Our choice is to be people of integrity and to cast aside the silly bigotries, dogmatic nonsense, and historical fallacies and rise above all of that.

    The fact that you would assume that I'm lumping all straight people (or even all Christians) into the very tight cluster of religious bigots, political activists, and hate groups — well, it's clear you need to learn some reading comprehension, sir.

    Or have you considered that these very narrow descriptions of people I "bash" are a little too close to the mirror?

    So please. Stop the games. I'm not playing any more.

  6. Wow David. Open your mind and see someone else's opinion without personally attacking someone.

  7. Sheila Norris There's a lot of history with Mr. Schwenz. I've spent several years having him write the exact same response to my posts, and I'm tired of it.

  8. Rob Smolka says:

    We love you Scott, but those of us that knew you always knew! :-)

  9. Vivian Posen says:

    Joe Schwänz Sr… I call "bullshit" to your claim that David is "straight-bashing". The minute I started reading your response to his article I could see your narrow-minded, BIGOTED, view come into focus. No one buys your b.s.

  10. […] will reiterate what I said a few months ago. Our rights should never be debated over whether or not sexual orientation is a choice. After all, […]

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