Is Being Gay a Choice?

It’s not easy being gay.  In a world where heterosexuality is the norm and homosexuality has often been seen as wrong or disgusting, the LGBT community has worked tirelessly to declare that sexual preference is not a “preference” at all.  There are several studies linking genetics as part of the biological reason some people are born gay.  Some people still want to argue nurture vs. nature, however most of those people are straight.

Lately there has been more debate about this in the public due to the actress Cynthia Nixon, who states there’s more than one way to be gay.   Actress Cynthia Nixon, whom we know as Miranda Hobbes on Sex and the City, has always been a peculiar case study for the LGBT community: she was happily in a relationship with a man for 15 years (they even had two kids together), but she’s been in a relationship with a woman since 2004.  Though her sexual orientation seemed to have made a switch, she has said in the past that she didn’t feel like she was necessarily lying to herself or hiding anything.  “I’d been with men all my life, and I’d never fallen in love with a woman,” she told The Daily Telegraph in 2007.  “But when I did, it didn’t seem so strange. I’m just a woman in love with another woman.”  

Many gay activists call her midlife switch in sexual orientation disingenuous, and Nixon chose to defend her relationship by controversially stating that for her, homosexuality is a choice. She explained to the New York Times Magazine:

“I gave a speech recently, an empowerment speech to a gay audience, and it included the line ‘I’ve been straight and I’ve been gay, and gay is better.’ And they tried to get me to change it, because they said it implies that homosexuality can be a choice. And for me, it is a choice. I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me. A certain section of our community is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice, because if it’s a choice, then we could opt out. I say it doesn’t matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not.”

Cynthia Nixon also refuses to call herself bisexual.  She genuinely states that she was straight before, but she’s gay now. Political blogger and gay activist John Aravosis called her out on the supposed misnomer of her sexual orientation: “It’s not a ‘choice,’ unless you consider my opting to date a guy with brown hair versus a guy with blonde hair a ‘choice.’ It’s only a choice among flavors I already like.  And if you like both flavors, men and women, you’re bisexual, you’re not gay, so please don’t tell people that you are gay, and that gay people can ‘choose’ their sexual orientation, i.e., will it out of nowhere.  Because they can’t.”

My opinion is that I can’t judge what Cynthia Nixon feels or believes.  All I know it isn’t how other people feel or believe.  Maybe some people are able to choose to be attracted to the same sex after many years of being attracted to the opposite sex.  I’m not sure, Cynthia Nixon is the only one I’ve read about or talked to that claims this.  So, I do think this is very rare.  I do know that until recently a lot of LGBT people felt they needed to hide their sexuality.  A lot of them worked hard to deny certain parts of themselves.  They fell in line with their family or cultural beliefs and got married and started a family.  However, inside they still knew they were living a lie.  Some of those people finally came out and are now in same sex relationships.  They would not define themselves as bisexual or say that they chose to become gay later in life due to stresses in their marriage. They’ve known for a very long time they were gay, and only chose to live their life out as a gay person publicly later in life.

It is true that some people in the LGBT community realized they were gay when they were very young.  Others were ignorant of the fact until they were in their teens or twenties.  This still doesn’t prove it is a choice.  All I know is what people tell me about their experiences.  I don’t know too many gay people who would willingly choose to upset their families, lose friends, give up certain hobbies or sports, be discriminated against, always feeling out new situations and jobs to see how receptive others are to them being gay before coming out publicly.  It isn’t easy.  If you talk to anyone who has been through it, you would know there are a lot of times they wish they could choose to be straight.  Just read Ty’s blog post, If I Had A Choice for confirmation.

If I’m going to believe anyone, I’m going to believe the people who are actually going through the experience of coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.  They are the ones who can tell me what they know and what they feel.  I can’t judge for them.  They all tell me they know they were born this way.  I know I didn’t choose to be straight.  I can remember crushes on boys in kindergarten.  I don’t think I really knew why, it just happened that way.  It was most likely stamped in my genetic code.  So why would I think someone who is gay would have a different experience?  They just like to rebel against society?  I don’t think so. 

I hope LGBT people continue to speak up and fight for their rights.  The more people see it and start to become aware and more educated, the less controversial this whole issue will be.  At least that is my hope.  I give them my support and hope I can encourage them in any way I can.  Live and let live.  Love people for who they are, not who they are attracted to sexually, because at the end of the day does that even really matter???

2 comments on “Is Being Gay a Choice?

  1. Many researchers think that female sexuality is more fluid than a man’s. This means that it is very possible for a someone, like Nixon, to make the switch sometime in her adulthood (and to not see herself as bi). Maybe it was a choice for her. But that doesn’t mean it’s a choice for everyone. Why is it so hard for people to see the gray areas?

    • Thanks so much for your comment. I’m a gray person all the way so it is hard for me to answer that question. I just think too many people live in ignorance and fear. Maybe someday our society could get to a place where even if being gay was a choice it would be considered an acceptable or even a great one. It is too bad that many straight people make the ones who are gay want to be straight just because it is easier. Not because it is better. I know a lot of LGBT people and I wish I was born more like them because they are awesome human beings. However, a lot of people look over those great qualities and only recognize one difference. I continue to have hope for a brighter future…thanks again for reading and sharing.

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