Toronto
3 min

Born which way?

There are a number of things that bother me about the entire “born this way” mantra that has overtaken the queer community these last few years.

Frankly, it’s just way too simple.

First of all, after a great deal of study from various angles, no one has ever managed to prove conclusively whether gay people come out of the womb with their sexuality decided or whether our preferences are formed by a variety of integers that can occur throughout various developmental periods of our lives.

The only thing studies have proven, like all studies of human sexuality, is that clear of any moralistic manipulations or interpretations, human sexuality is a part of human nature that is perversely slippery about being pinned down to any absolutes. It influences all of us to varying degrees, according to age and health — and what people actually do while having sex and what they’ll admit to publicly are often very different things.

It’s well documented that a large majority of people of the same sex imprisoned together will form all sorts of couples and alliances — regardless of their orientation.

We all know, or know of, people who lived gay and straight lifestyles at different times in their lives. And not always in the “coming out later” stories we’re accustomed to. The lives of many queer artists throughout Western history are filled with stories like that of bad-boy poet Rimbaud, who enjoyed a notorious relationship with another drunken poet, Verlaine, and later, after the relationship imploded, returned to his wife.

A multitude of the most beautiful Hollywood actresses from the Golden Age, many of them married and mostly het, had relationships and affairs with notorious playwright Mercedes de Acosta over the decades, although none of these lovers were with her when she died penniless and forgotten in New York years later.

Many of us have had one or two “straight” boyfriends or girlfriends who were experimenting, confused or seeking to be something more interesting. Plus, there are many out and happy gay men or lesbians who have, for many reasons, found themselves in bed with partners of the opposite sex once or twice. And let’s not forget those gay men and lesbians who marry one another to live lives they’re comfortable with rather than move into a strange world that might frighten them. Some of these relationships are the most successful I’ve seen in terms of longevity and pure enjoyment of one another’s company.

American columnist Dan Savage often speaks about how the idea of bisexuality is maligned by our community because so many people who turned out to be truly queer hid behind that convenient, safer-seeming label at some point. These people often see anyone else using the term as liars because that’s what they were when they used it.

These bi-deniers, to my mind, are the equivalent of the straight people who think all gay people are gay by choice and should be able to just turn it off. Both groups show an inability to recognize and acknowledge the fact that not everyone has the same sexual feelings they do. It suggests a simplistic regimentation of thought and a complete lack of empathy and imagination.

Of course, there are truly bisexual people who are equally comfortable — or uncomfortable — with either sex. To say, as many gay people do, that they lack commitment is the same thing as saying all gay people have shallow relationships. Both are generalizations that make the hater comfortable. Just as a straight person announcing that he or she has tried gay sex to another straight friend generally gets a disapproving reaction, so too will the gay dude who confesses to his boy pals that he’s just had sex with a woman. Many people wish sexual feelings were nice and neat, resolute and unwavering, and I suspect their trying to impose those qualities on our sexual desires comes from a hidden inability to do the same thing to theirs.

An excellent example of this sort of thing comes from the greatest homophobes. Santorum, Gingrich, Robertson, Toews and the rest of their ilk are always droning on about our “chosen lifestyle.” And they play this trope because, for them, it’s true. They know they are gay inside, desperate to have hot sex with other men, but, because of their small minds, non-existent imaginations and sad religious upbringings, they truly do, every day, choose not to be the horny jizz-pigs they know they are.

And still we allow these dolts and their religious brethren to frame the argument for equality for queers with such a pointless question. Who cares if any legal, consensual, sexual or intimate behaviour is chosen or if we’re born with a desire for it? We live in a democracy. Adults are allowed to do what they want to.

There are no religious groups trying to take rights away from men who prefer to fuck women up the ass or women who prefer to get it that way. Where are the sex police denouncing their degenerate “chosen” lifestyle? They don’t exist because any other group would tell these people, quite rightly, to go fuck themselves and give up the fascist need to try to control the behaviour of the minority.

So it’s time we stopped indulging this particular debate on any level. No one’s religious disapproval trumps another individual’s right to freedom and equality. If you don’t approve of what others are doing, don’t do it.

That’s the only argument anyone needs.