The Process of Choosing

A Conversation Between Gayle Madwin and Frank Aqueno

The following is a rough transcript excerpted from a conversation on AOL Instant Messenger on July 2, 2000, between the owner of the website, Gayle Madwin (shown here as QBC 101), and the owner of the Queer by Choice website on AOL, Frank Aqueno (shown here as FRANKAQ). The transcript has been revised slightly in some places to make it easier for others to follow.

QBC 101: all of my life i have been surrounded by people who talk about "finding out" they "already are" queer and being "unable to change"
QBC 101: it is VERY HARD for me to understand
QBC 101: and i am trying to get my mind around it but it is so very alienating and it makes me feel like . . .
FRANKAQ: an alien
QBC 101: what am i even DOING in the queer community claiming to be queer when the definition of "queer" seems to be "unable to change"?
FRANKAQ: well, you are deconstructing that definition
QBC 101: yes but there are all these other people around me who LIVE by that old definition and i cannot make any SENSE of them!!
QBC 101: i do not belong in the hetero community at all but i cannot fit in ANYWHERE without first deconstructing definitions and "forcing" my way in. people say that being queer is about loving one's own sex but in most people's minds that is not really enough, i have to also say i "can't help" loving my own sex or else i don't "qualify" as a "real" queer
QBC 101: i do not know what it means to feel "unable to change" the way you do. you have experienced feeling "unable to change" but i have not
QBC 101: and so . . . i can make up theories all day long about why others go through this experience of "unable to change" but i am still really just as unable to RELATE to their experience as they are to relate to mine
QBC 101: and then you talk about gender roles and power structures, how people choose to be exclusively with their own sex b/c it is more comfortably equal, nonexploitative, etc.
QBC 101: so, what does that mean about my choice to be bisexual?
QBC 101: i enjoy exploitation?
QBC 101: i am more optimistic about different genders' ability to get along?
QBC 101: what does it MEAN? why does the whole gender role thing just completely not MATTER to me in terms of my chosen bisexuality whereas evidently it matters enough to you to cause you to choose to be exclusively homo?
QBC 101: if we are all born the same then why do some turn out homo and some turn out bi?
QBC 101: i can handle why some turn out hetero b/c i think they are either cowards or just uneducated about their own sexual potential
FRANKAQ: different choices
QBC 101: but WHY? is the life of a "typical homo" fundamentally different from a "typical bi"?
QBC 101: what makes us into people who make different kinds of choices?
FRANKAQ: i would think experience
QBC 101: ok here is the trouble then
QBC 101: i am trying to imagine an experience that would have led me to choose to be homo
QBC 101: and i am having extreme difficulty imagining it
FRANKAQ: give me the floor a sec....
QBC 101: by all means take it, i don't seem to be able to handle it myself
FRANKAQ: make it a boy....playin with a doll he's age 3/4 and he's alone and his play and fantasy with the doll are private and his and are influenced by the roles and ideas floated around he's maybe playing daddy and the doll is mommy...
FRANKAQ: and this is all his...he's alone...and it is in that time that he plays and fantasizes that this 'core' i'm speaking of develops...he forms his own reaction to the doll....his own feelings...his own thoughts...they may be a combo of other roles and thoughts...
FRANKAQ: but he mixes it up himself
FRANKAQ: and it becomes his...
FRANKAQ: in walks Mom or Dad...or Aunt Betty
FRANKAQ: and brings all the weight of 'boy playing with doll' to the forefront
FRANKAQ: lots of conflict
FRANKAQ: lots of pressure
FRANKAQ: how does the boy respond?
FRANKAQ: in any number of ways
FRANKAQ: he can never pick up a doll again
FRANKAQ: he can be very determined to never put one down again
QBC 101: lol
FRANKAQ: am i right?
QBC 101: sure . . . or he can become so terrified of dolls that despite never picking one up again he fixates on them and thinks of nothing all day long but them and asking himself what terrible thing may be inside of him that drove him to pick up that one doll so many years ago
QBC 101: one of the questions in his mind being of course "does this mean i'm homosexual?"
QBC 101: so at puberty or later when the memory comes back to him and brings that question with it then he examines his feelings and discovers the same-sex love potential that all people have within them although so many do not discover it
FRANKAQ: so this is the core i'm speakin of
FRANKAQ: and how it forms and develops is only a blur to me but i think it does
QBC 101: what i am feeling here though is . . .
QBC 101: if the word that Aunt Betty screams at him or that she has in her mind and silently written all over her face is
QBC 101: "homosexual"
QBC 101: then he grows up to love men only
QBC 101: but if she just screams "queer" and does not really care whether he's "bisexual" or "homosexual" then he might love both
FRANKAQ: well the extremes are 'conform' or 'rebel'
there is however a wide spectrum
FRANKAQ: the boy at age 3/4 does not have the ability to fully rebel
FRANKAQ: maybe he can rebel internally
QBC 101: ok but what i am asking/saying is
QBC 101: this boy's ability to love others, or more accurately to express his love for them in a sexual manner, is shaped by either rebellion or conformity to the labels he is threatened with
QBC 101: and if "homosexual" is presented as a real category and "bisexual" is presented more as a cop-out then that has an impact on what he becomes
FRANKAQ: well it is why 'choice' is so evasive because there are billions of choices
FRANKAQ: all in this area where we have no memory
FRANKAQ: we only see those 'conform' or 'rebel' choices now as suppositions
QBC 101: but it is scary being in a world where 99% of the people around me have no memory of their choices and I DO HAVE MEMORY
FRANKAQ: well of that particular choice you do
QBC 101: it is very weird and hard to accept that others cannot explain WHY
QBC 101: and by their definitions i would be "straight" b/c that is what i initially (supposedly "naturally") started out as
QBC 101: but see i can EXPLAIN why i initially started out that way
QBC 101: b/c i was not aware of anything else, i was not aware that sexual desire was a feeling that people of the same sex were capable of feeling for each other
QBC 101: i was told that the opposite sex was all that was available to me and so i chose from among the opposite sex only because i did not know i had any other options
QBC 101: then eventually like so many others altho in a different way than most of them i finally discovered there were other options
FRANKAQ: you speak directly to my statement that "There is no choice because they say there is none."
QBC 101: oh yes ABSOLUTELY yes that is so true i must write it down somewhere
FRANKAQ: thats not the right wording it's in "On Choosing A Homosexual Lifestyle"
QBC 101: well i like it best the way you have just worded it NOW
FRANKAQ: and they know that if these options/choices are presented to children they will make them
QBC 101: yes
FRANKAQ: this is what scares the shit out of them the most
QBC 101: yes
FRANKAQ: and you are the living example
QBC 101: and so others when they reach puberty or whatever age at which they learn who to be attracted to discover different options than i did . . .
QBC 101: but this would mean then
QBC 101: that a homosexual has not discovered that the opposite sex is an option?
FRANKAQ: that by that time THEIR 'inner core' has already been corrupted and for whatever reasons YOURS was not
QBC 101: i just simply recognized that there were other options
FRANKAQ: and your 'core' was independent enough still to act upon them
QBC 101: the only thing that made it independent was that i was able to TRUST that the options were all REAL
QBC 101: when people think that something is not an option it is because they keep questioning incessantly whether it really is one instead of just going with it and TRUSTING that the option is there
QBC 101: when people are afraid of the possibilities within them they cannot trust that any other options are open and their inability to trust forecloses all options except the one they are most afraid of b/c that is the one whose existence they have all too much trust in
QBC 101: and thus the only way anyone can choose to change their sexual preference is if they are on excellent terms with the one they already have and are merely choosing to explore other options out of adventurousness and not trying to run away from FEAR
QBC 101: FEAR is something no one can run away from because if you have FEAR then that FEAR shuts down all other option but itself until you have nothing else but to face it and become whatever you fear most because at that point that is the ONLY WAY you have left to overcome the fear that rules your life and make your life your own and liveable again
FRANKAQ: it is 'someone' always making these choices
FRANKAQ: and that 'someone' is always unique
QBC 101: if i were for whatever reason to have sex with a homosexual of the opposite sex or a heterosexual of the same sex, this is what i would say to them:
QBC 101: I am going to enjoy this. And I trust that you will be able to find something enjoyable too if you are bothering to do this with me at all. But the EXTENT to which you enjoy it is for you to choose, and you must choose only for the sake of your own happiness and not mine, because I can never know for sure how much you enjoyed it anyway so it does not matter to ME. You are the only one who can know how much you enjoyed it and so you are the only one to whom it can matter how much you really enjoyed it.
QBC 101: people should not fuss over whether they are officially willing to call themselves "attracted" or not
QBC 101: "attraction" is not some mysterious THING that people have to "discover" before they can allow themselves to have sex with someone. it is only a question of "do you choose to enjoy this moment being sexual with this person or not?"
QBC 101: they should just relax and enjoy the moment and not WORRY about some mysterious THING called "attraction" or "non-attraction" or "gay" or "straight" because their mysterious THING that they believe in does not even matter. enjoyment is all that matters
QBC 101: because until you get beyond all this fear and worry you will always be foreclosing your own choices by being too anxious and unable to trust in the existence of multiple options
QBC 101: relaxing and enjoying the moment is what most people are so very BAD at doing.

Frank Aqueno is a writer, ACT UP/Queer Nation activist, and radical queer performance artist born in 1942 who chose long ago to love men. Gayle Madwin is a writer and editor born in 1976 who chose in 1992 to love both genders. To hear more from Gayle Madwin and Frank Aqueno, visit Gayle's QueerByChoice Member Profile and Frank's Queer by Choice website.

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©2000 by Gayle Madwin and Frank Aqueno. All rights reserved.