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?