Does the idea of choice encourage homophobes to say that
queers don't deserve equal rights?

Most people believe we should have the right to freely choose our religious beliefs without loss of other civil rights. Why shouldn't we have the same right to freely choose our sexual preference? Queer by choice people challenge homophobes to answer that question. We assert that we have a right to choose to be queer. It's none of the government's business, our parents' business, or anyone else's business but our own to decide which gender we should fall in love with or marry. And it's insulting to all queers that the mainstream queer movement (especially in the United States) argues in court on a regular basis that the reason people have a right to be queer is that we supposedly can't help it. That is not the reason that anyone has the right to be queer. The reason everyone has the right to be queer is that everyone has the right to control their own mind and body unless it infringes on anyone else's right to control their mind and body. Two queers making passionate love to each other are not infringing on anyone else's rights; they're simply making each other happy.

So why are so many queers so afraid of the idea of choice? This is an age in which Dr. Laura recently motivated hundreds of thousands of homophobes to flood Vermont lawmakers' offices with letters and phone calls railing angrily against the possibility of same-sex marriage, on the grounds that gay people are, in the words of Dr. Laura, "biological errors." Yes, you heard that right: she said biological. And hundreds of thousands of listeners heard her words and obediently called the Vermont lawmakers; offices to complain that the "biological errors" should not be allowed to marry. Gosh, what a lot of good that biological theory did for queer rights.

It's ridiculous to think that saying we have no choice about our queerness can earn us equal rights. Even Fred Phelps himself has said that he believes that queer people are incapable of choosing not to be queer. He just hates us all the same. He pickets our funerals but he doesn't claim that we can be "saved." He just pickets our funerals to let us know how much he hates us.

Have you by any chance read the homophobic essays at The ones about what causes sexual preference? NARTH is probably the biggest ex-gay institute in the world, and there is not one of their essays up on their site which says a word against the theory that we're biological errors. They like the idea that we're biological errors. They do want to let us know that it's not wholly biological (because unlike Fred Phelps, they persist in wanting to "save" us), but they have no problem at all with the argument that it's substantially genetically influenced. The only way that the biological argument could ever do us any good at all in terms of giving us the excuse that we "can't help it" is if somebody could prove that sexual preference is wholly genetic. Unless it is wholly genetic then they can always tell us that we have "a little bit of a choice."

Well, it can't be proven to be wholly genetic. Even the study of 56 identical twins done by Michael Bailey and Richard Pillard in 1991, which was so widely touted as proof of a "gay gene," found that only 52% of the identical twins of gay men were also gay. In other words, the very most you could hope for is that either our genes have a 52% influence on our sexual preferences (in which case the other 48% of the influences are presumably social environment and/or choice), or else 52% of gay people are born irrevocably destined to become gay and absolutely can't help it at all (in which case the other 48% of gay people had no genetic influence whatsoever—and you'll probably agree that 48% is a much larger percentage than the numbers of gay people you could find who are willing to say that their gayness was not in any way genetically influenced). Furthermore, a more recent study done by King and McDonald in 1992 found that only 25% of the identical twins of gay men were gay—a substantially lower number than the 52% that Bailey and Pillard found.

Also bear in mind that the 52% (or 25%, or various other percentages, depending on which study you listen to) could easily reflect environmental influences instead of just biological ones. Identical twins are exposed to extremely similar social environments and besides, in a world where queerness is so widely believed to be genetic, if your identical twin comes out to you as gay then that's got to drastically increase your likelihood of intensely questioning your sexual preference, and which in turn must surely increase the likelihood of discovering same-sex attractions which you might never have discovered if your identical twin hadn't caused you to look for them.

In contrast to NARTH, some queer by choice people (although certainly not all of us) do not believe sexual orientation is any more biologically influenced than, say, wearing purple socks or voting Democratic. Some of us also believe that claiming that sexual preference is genetically influenced may cause most people to judge it by the system commonly used to judge the merits of other biological characteristics: in other words, "Is it an evolutionary advantage?" To say that queerness is biologically caused can lead almost inevitably to a suspicion on the part of most people, especially heterosexuals, that since it doesn't lead as often or as directly to reproduction as heterosexuality then it must be a defect. As soon as we say it's a defect then we encourage parents to not want their children to be queer, and as soon as that happens then we make the coming-out process very difficult for the parents' children.

If a person freely chooses to have no children, that is not a defect and no one should attempt to "cure" the person of their decision. But if a person is biologically incapable of having children, then it's perfectly understandable that scientists would try to cure them of it. The same goes for queerness. If a person is born biologically incapable of being attracted to the opposite sex, it's virtually impossible to deny that in evolutionary terms this is a defect. But if a person freely chooses to love the same sex, then this choice should only be judged on the basis of whether it makes themself and the one they love happy. When we tell the world that we choose to be queer, we are saying that we aren't afraid to have our choices judged on this basis. We know that we and our lovers are happy in our love.

Perhaps the most important contribution of queer by choice people to the fight against homophobia is that when we say that we chose to be queer, we force people to realize that it's possible to want to be queer. For too long homophobes have painted us as one-sided creatures who experience nothing but nonstop pain. To paint us this way is to paint us as something less than full and well-rounded human beings, and they paint us this way specifically to scare others into repressing their own potential queerness. The reality is that there's much to enjoy about being a member of the queer community and we who are queer by choice want homophobes to realize and acknowledge that.

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