Here’s an old salvo making new rounds in the anti-homophobia multi-media campaign…When Did You Choose to be Straight?
The point is to get straight people to think about when they chose their sexual orientation. By illustrating that heterosexuals never did choose their sexual orientation, the same must be true of homosexuals. If that’s the case, homosexuals cannot and should not be blamed or ostracized for who they are. (Ironically, the people who think this is an effective argument at the same time feverishly cling to the concept of Free Will. But, whatever.)
While I do not think anyone besides a Scientologist should be blamed for their sexual orientation, I do think this “simple question” that portends to be some kind of panacea for homophobia is not the ingenious argument everyone seems to think it is. This is because it is quite easy to imagine someone who is otherwise heterosexual to choose a long term sexual partner of the same gender. [We’ll disregard solitary instances of homosexual behavior as “experimenting,” especially for women since that’s really hot.] I can easily imagine someone with a long history of physical or mental abuse by an opposite sex partner switching teams, so-to-speak. I can also use myself as an example: Given a do-or-die choice between partnering with another man or a 400lbs Samoan woman, I’m probably going to choose partnering with a man because a 400lbs Samoan women is much less likely to turn me on than another man. (Naturally, this all assumes the man is a good-looking billionaire philanthropist with mommy-issues who flies his own helicopter.) Of course, this might raise the question of whether the person who switches teams is actually a homosexual, but only if one thinks narrow definitions trump real world actions. Such a person may be bisexual, but such definitions obscure the point seeing how bisexuals have been maligned almost as much as homosexuals throughout history. But I digress…Not every heterosexual who may have been abused in some fashion might be tempted to switch teams, but I’m quite sure it’s happened more than one time. I’m not saying it happens more often than people born with an inclination towards their preference in partners, just that it does happen.
I realize my hypothesis can only remain as such because it is too difficult to empirically verify. While scores of homosexuals could be interviewed as to whether they chose homosexuality or homosexuality chose them, we couldn’t be sure – without elaborate brain monitoring – that such interviewees weren’t lying. Besides, any fundamental theist worth their salt will tell you all homosexuals are liars, so what’s the point of conducting a study? (I’m not singling out homosexuals as liars, it’s just that everyone lies, especially fundamental theists.) We cannot verify exactly how many times people are “born” gay. Does it matter, though?
I do believe asking people when they chose to be heterosexuals is a good way of demonstrating that it is possible that homosexuals never had a say in whom they find attractive. Such a demonstration may advance the idea that homosexuality is not a highly unusual anomaly, but to what end? Such a demonstration doesn’t do much to defeat a passionate homophobe since the demonstration doesn’t address the societal or moral implications of a homosexual acting upon their impulses, even if those impulses are natural. It may be shown that homosexuality may be a natural inclination for a certain percentage of the population but that doesn’t mean accepting homosexuals is necessarily good for society. That’s an entirely different argument.
I do understand that by getting people to consider homosexuality as something not completely unnatural is a stepping stone towards discussing the real issue, such as I have just posed it. I do giggle a little bit though like Harvey Fierstein imagining La Cage aux Folles in IMAX 3D when people take this homosexuality-is-normal argument as the killing blow (no pun intended) against homophobia. The argument is just a baby step towards the greater discussion and if one can’t see the argument as only a baby step, they’re in no position to tell you why there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.