Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Question of Choice, Again!

Well, controversy!  It appears that Cynthia Nixon has been saying things that have gotten a few people in a tizzy in the past about the concepts of choice and homosexuality.  And now, this recent article has brought that all back in to the discussion again.  (The money quote can be found in context on page 3 of the article.)
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.
As you can tell, I am very annoyed about this issue. Why can’t it be a choice? Why is that any less legitimate? It seems we’re just ceding this point to bigots who are demanding it, and I don’t think that they should define the terms of the debate.

And a few others have been weighing in on it as well:

Sulli: The word "choice"
and
dadsprimalscream: Choices – We’re not All the Same

I like what they have to say about it.  And I agree with Cynthia and Dad, on this as I had pretty much come to the same conclusion myself last year in my post A Question of Choice.

But there is an argument going on in a few Facebook groups about it that I sort of let myself get sucked into.    And I realized that the topic isn't as straight forward for some as it was for me.  But I've been reflecting on it to see where I've come with this since last year. 

Some people feel like she was being a troll in her comment, I don't see it that way at all.  Some are concerned that bringing choice into the argument is dangerous for the younger and insecure kids trying to deal with this while being pounded on by the nasty religious environment they are growing up in, and that her statement is only adding fuel to their rhetoric.  I don't discount that many feel that way.   But I also believe that what they believe is fuel for their rhetoric could also be the very thing that drowns it.

Cynthia has a slightly different perspective than I do as she is attracted to everyone whereas I'm only attracted to my own sex.  Cynthia chose gay over not gay in the end.  But before that she also had to make the choice to accept that part of herself and choose to live it as well.   I also believe that many of the worst homophobes out there may have had the same type of choice.  But they chose to be not gay.  But before that, they chose to reject and hate the gay part of themselves.  

My choice was to decide if I was going to accept it and live as I am or repress it and live as someone who was not attracted to anyone.  I eventually chose the one that would make me happy because choosing asexually for the past 17 years stopped working for me.  So, I tried gay and gay was better.  I never chose heterosexuality because I could never understand it.  I did choose to consider it, date a few women, even claim I was straight, but all that time I was essentially, unconsciously, choosing asexuality when I did that.  And after awhile, I began to believe I was asexual and then eventually identified as such for a time.   I also chose not to live AS a heterosexual because I didn't have or understand what it was.  I chose what I understood.  

For far too long the LGBT community as been on the defensive.   The choice question has been allowed to be framed by the people who want to see choice in terms of right and wrong.  I can say I made a choice and I can defend my choice because I don't let the bigots frame the question of choice as right or wrong.   I did not choose my innate desires.  But I choose how I'm going to live with them.  The LDS church has come to the point now of accepting that the innate desires are not chosen, but that how we act on them is a choice.  Well, of course they are right, HOWEVER, they are also dictating what is the right or wrong choice by giving that choice meaning that is important only to them. And that if we choose wrong by their standards, we should not be respected, supported or loved.  This is pretty much the entire religious right's stance on it not just the LDS view.   

What I'm getting at and what I believe Cynthia is trying to say is that pandering to the bigotry, as if the bigots have any right to dictate what choices people make, is the wrong approach and the wrong way to justify one's own choices.

We do not have to justify our choice to live as we are, even though they are demanding it from us.  They're also demanding the right to have control over people to prevent them from making choices that they don't agree with and that don't even affect them.  That is what needs to be challenged.

Ironically, reminding them that their religious belief is a choice actually doesn't work because they see it as someone making the right choice.  And for them, if it's something they agree with, why shouldn't it be protected? 

Again, challenging their argument that personal choices shouldn't be protected because they disagree with them is really what it comes down to, and it's basically what the whole Prop 8 trial debate has been about.

4 comments :

  1. I like this. A lot. It feels empowering and honest.

    I think my favorite is, "The choice question has been allowed to be framed by the people who want to see choice in terms of right and wrong. I can say I made a choice and I can defend my choice because I don't let the bigots frame the question of choice as right or wrong."

    What a powerful and grounded place to come from!

    ReplyDelete
  2. The verification word for my comment was "gaybihor".
    Seriously.

    ReplyDelete

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