I chose to be gay

Ok, no I didn’t. It was a stroke. A stroke turned me gay.

(I know this is a bit late, but I was too busy to write this when the various stories I wanted to discuss were popular.)

Where to begin, where to begin…

After a stroke in 2011, 27 year old Chris Birch woke up gay. A documentary about him was aired on BBC3 in April this year, and the reaction was… mixed. Once reasonable homos were stirred into a fit of pique by this rugby-player-turned-hairdresser’s story.

“He was always gay!” they cried, “He was just in the closet! In denial! Sexuality is rigid and immutable!”

Which is complete and utter bullshit. A few people made the claim that this guy’s story, and any story that implies that sexuality isn’t as black and white as Lady Gaga tells us*, leaves us open to attacks by religious “gay-cure” therapy types. They have a point, albeit a weak one. Any story that shows people transitioning between orientations could potentially fuel the claims of those who believe that gay people can be “converted” into breeders through prayer or electroshock therapy or whateverthefuck it is they do.

The fact of the matter, however, is that sexuality is not that simple – and of all communities, the LGBT community should be supportive of that fact. Many of us have been asked (by parents and friends) if what we’re experiencing could be “just a phase”. Normally it’s not. We are who we are, and all that. But sometimes it is. People experiment. Teenage girls get girlcrushes. Their existence doesn’t threaten ours, but our insistence on denying theirs is both ignorant and disrespectful.

The situation was complicated, of course, by another story that gained publicity around the same time. In early April, the “Core Issues Trust” booked advertising space on London buses for their “reparative therapy” for gay people. Fortunately the ads were considered to be too controversial, and were pulled. People were angered by these adverts, and rightly so. To quote my favourite line from the X-Men films: “They can’t cure us. You want to know why? Because there’s nothin’ to cure. Nothing’s wrong with you. Or any of us, for that matter.”

But why complicate things by saying that change is impossible? Yes, there are heaps of evidence showing that “reparative therapy” doesn’t work. But still, surely, what we should be aiming for is not a denial that people can change but an acceptance of who they are. Saddeningly, the only place I’ve seen this opinion voiced is in (of all places) the Daily Mail. Really, guys? When the Daily Heil’s opinion is more tolerant than yours, you might be doing something wrong.

It’s not a one way street. Sure, we have the “ex-gay” jerks recruiting our most vulnerable members, but there are straighties making the transition to our side too.

Much earlier this year, around the end of January, actor Cynthia Nixon caused controversy when she said in an interview that she’d chosen to be gay. She was widely criticised (by people that I think should know better – read: gay people) for encouraging the bigots who believe that homosexuality is (always?) a choice. This blog post by John Aravosis is a perfect example of how people got it wrong. It’s titled “Actress Cynthia Nixon says it’s a choice to be gay. And she’s wrong.”, and that title itself is so wilfully ignorant it makes me want to cry. NO, Mr Aravosis, she did NOT say that being gay is a choice. She said that SHE CHOSE to be gay. Can you see how those are different?

In an incredibly patronising first paragraph, he explains that “What she means is that she’s bisexual”. And that makes me so fucking angry. If she was bisexual, why wouldn’t she just say “I’m bisexual”? Hey, maybe she’d never heard the word bisexual before. Maybe she just didn’t know what bisexual meant. Or maybe (just maybe) IF SHE WAS BISEXUAL SHE WOULD HAVE SAID THAT SHE WAS FUCKING BISEXUAL.

Here’s my crazy idea. Maybe, juuust maybe, some people do choose to be gay. Or straight, for that matter. Think about it. You know how those right-wingers keep telling us that homosexuality is a choice? Maybe, juuuuuuust maaaaaaybe, for some of them it WAS a choice. Wouldn’t that help to explain why they’re so sure it is? What about political lesbianism? Sure, a lot of people badmouth it, but it must have worked for some people at some point.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I would like it if we could start respecting the way other people identify their orientation.

Chris Birch, you were a straighty and now you’re a gayer. I believe you. I’m sorry that so many homos have demeaned your past relationships by telling you that you were just closeted (because they knew how? I don’t even), but welcome to the winning team.

If a girl tells me she chose to be a lesbian, I’m not going to tell her that ACTUALLY she’s “just bisexual” (because that would be patronising and rude and… factually incorrect!), I’m going to give her a cheer, a beer, and all the support she needs.

Whateverrr… leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

*no offence meant. Little Monster and proud.

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    • Tia
    • June 24th, 2012

    Its sad how much hate and judgement there is in the world, even from those who have experienced the other side of it. Well said

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