Why Do They Think We “Choose?”

   

Every time I look at the news, social media, etc., I see the bigots and heterosupremacists making the assertion that being gay is a choice.  That somehow all these millions of men and women woke up one morning and decided to “be gay” without reason or cause.  Why is that?  What makes people say these things?

     Have you ever sat down with someone and discussed sexuality, sexual orientation, or gender identity?  It’s a touchy subject for many people, even some LGBT’s.  However, when the discussion is with someone who has deeply engrained anti-gay opinions or anti-trans opinions, the conversation usually takes an unpleasant turn into Biblical ideas.  As a member of The PPM, I’m often questioned on the subject of whether or not I believe homosexuality is a choice or something people are born with.  People ask this of me knowing full-well that I am an openly gay man and have been since I was a teenager.  Just recently, someone asked if I “…sincerely believe homosexuality is a choice, hereditary, genetic, or something else.”  I was taken aback by this because he was bombarding me with this question over and over again.  I thought about this and realized he was trying to initialize a heated response from me.  He wanted to get “under my skin” by asking something he knew I was passionate about.  How did I respond?  The same way I’m about to now.

     Homosexuality and gender identity are things we believe (and science has yet to prove otherwise) people are born with.  This isn’t something that can change over time.  Sure, we realize sexual orientation and gender identity are things we may not come to terms with until later in life but they are always there.  Just as being born with blue eyes or brown eyes, we cannot change certain aspects of our being.  The idea that someone would choose a more difficult life for themselves isn’t something I can comprehend.  Why would I wake up one morning and decide to be gay knowing my life has now just become 50%, of not more, difficult?  Why would I choose to be fired from a job for being gay?  Why would I choose to be disowned by my family?  Turned away for certain health care coverage or insurance?  Be kicked out of my congregation (if I were religious)?  Be laughed at or taunted?  Be beaten or verbally harassed by friends, family, and complete strangers?  Or worse, be killed for being gay?  No one chooses this for themselves. 

     When I think about the notion of choosing to be gay, as the heterosupremacists believe, does that mean they also believe in choosing to be straight?  When a person makes the assumption that something is a choice, then logic will tell you the opposite must also be true.  With that said, and I know we’ve all asked this of straight people, when did they choose to be straight?  I’ve asked this of straight people and they cannot answer that question with logic or common sense.  They tell me they did not choose to be straight.  When I ask them to be gay, they say they cannot.  They say they are not attracted to the same-sex and cannot be gay.  Then how is it a choice?  Did everyone else make a choice except for them?  This idea, in my opinion, is as preposterous as the Earth being the center of the galaxy: it’s simply not true!

     In closing, are you concerned with other people’s sexual identity or orientation?  Probably not.  Are you concerned with another person’s married life?  Chances are slim.  Our society really needs to move away from the social issues that seem to plague our politics.  We need to recognize that we are all equal, provide equal rights to all, and move on.  There is no reason, in modern society in the United States that these debates need to keep brewing.  Women are equal, women should have control over their bodies (not men making their decision), racial minorities are equal, religious minorities’ are equal, and homosexuals and transgender individuals ARE EQUAL.  Living in America or being Christian does not give you the right to impose discrimination and judgment upon others simply because you “don’t like” their lifestyle.  When someone gains equal rights that does not mean yours are being stripped away.  The LGBT community is fighting for equal, not special rights.  Now, let’s just live and let live and love and let love.

Religious Freedoms or Intolerance? By Jason Martinez

     We’ve all seen the news regarding Arizona’s now-vetoed bill SB1062.  The bill, originally designed to protect the religious freedoms of the state’s Christian community from having to provide services if they felt it violated their belief systems based on their religion.  The bill, which was ultimately vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer (R), faced a backlash which the Arizona legislature had not anticipated.  Not only did it receive national attention, it cost the state money and revenue from tourism dollars, and tarnished their already unpolished reputation for being unwelcoming to minorities.

     When reading the actual wording of SB1062, it does not specifically mention homosexuality or the LGBT community.  However, it did not need to and that’s what some people don’t understand (even those in the LGBT community).  When discussing with a fervent Christian the notion of homosexuality, it is against their belief system.  Many believe homosexuality is a choice or learned “behavior.”  They also believe homosexuality has an agenda or recruitment going on amongst the youth of America.  This couldn’t be the furthest from the true.  Homosexuality is something you are born with, as is heterosexuality.  Gender identity is also something that is part of you at birth even if you don’t realize or understand until later on in life.  These things cannot be changed despite what the Christian Right may tell you.  There is no such thing as “conversion” or “reparative” therapy.  Such ideas are proven to damage a person’s mind and can lead them to suicide or severe depression. 

     Now, back to SB1062.  The bill would have allowed for businesses to discriminate freely against anyone they felt violated their belief system or their church’s teachings.  This would mean not serving religious minorities, single mothers, children born out of wedlock, homosexuals, transgender individuals, racial minorities, etc.  There’s no telling where this could have stopped.  Such legislation can easily thrust a state back into the pre-Civil Rights Movement era.  With such legislation, one can speculate businesses could post signs that say “Christians Only” or “No Gays Allowed” or “Muslims Not Welcome,” etc.  What people don’t understand is that when a person accepts their license to conduct business, they are agreeing to the laws, rules, and regulations of that state.  This means you agree to serve everyone by becoming a public business which is open to, you guessed it, the public.  If your state does not allow discrimination, you cannot take it upon yourself to alter those rules because you don’t like someone or because your church tells you to.  Religion, in the United States, does not and should not trump the laws of the nation.

     Some people, including those “Conservative” homosexuals, would argue that we should just look for other businesses that are gay-friendly.  Why should we?  Are we not part of the public sector?  Are we not tax-payers?  We live and work with everyone else so why can we not shop and consume like everyone else?  These anti-gay businesses have a right to their opinions and thoughts, they are guaranteed that through the Constitution, but they are not guaranteed their right to discriminate.  Why can they not keep their hateful opinions out of their business and keep them in their home and their places of worship?  Just because you provide goods or services to someone doesn’t mean you have to accept who they are and it doesn’t mean you’re advocating for their way of life.  Just because you promote women’s rights it doesn’t mean you’re now a woman.  Just because you may be pro-choice it doesn’t mean you have to start performing abortions.  The same goes for same-sex couples.  Just because you agree to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, it doesn’t mean you’re for same-sex marriage and out there waving a rainbow flag in the next Pride Parade.  It just means you care about your business and its reputation in your community. 

     In closing, we really need to work past this religious freedoms frenzy spreading across the country.  It seems to people many that discrimination based on religion is getting so bad that the Christian Right thinks they need legal protection and they are now pushing for these bills.  They talk about tolerance being a two-way street but fail to see that others require that same tolerance and acceptance.  They imply that tolerance should only be geared toward Christians and no one else.  How is that tolerance?  That implies only Christians get rights, can discriminate at will, and everyone else must remain silent and stop making waves.  You know what?  Make waves!  Make that splash!  If you don’t speak up nothing can change.  Change doesn’t come to those who sit silently in the stands.  Change comes to those out in the field making a scene and calling on dialogue and discussion.  Demand change!  Don’t let things stay as they are simply because Christians and other Conservatives say that’s the way it should be.