I Choose to be Gay
OPINION The Washington Blade [gay newspaper]
Choosing the road less traveled. Don't ostracize lesbians who turn to men. Most people are bisexual and choose to be gay or straight.
By JENNIFER VANASCO Feb. 11, 2005
This fabulous woman I know is marrying a great guy. And that's not a big deal, right? Except she has identified as a lesbian for over a decade.
Some of her friends are so upset by this that they jokingly told her she can't be part of the lesbian community any more.
One of them told me something like, "Well, a lesbian by definition is someone who's with women, right? If she's not with a woman, she's not one of us."
I think differently. Why can't she still be a lesbian if she's marrying a man? "Lesbian," as we use it, doesn't mean that a woman has never, will never, and doesn't currently want to be with a man. Usually it just means that someone isn't 100 percent straight and they like being part of our women-centered community.
In fact, I think as time goes on, and social pressure to be straight lessens, more and more women will choose to be lesbians, at least for a little while.
Yep. I said, "choose." And yes. I think that our sexual orientation is a choice.
I thought that would get your attention.
Before you start on that angry e-mail to me, sit down a minute. I know you're upset. Every time I make an allusion to the idea that we choose our sexual orientations, I get flooded with pissed off mail.
That's pretty interesting to me, because it's not like I'm saying, "Sexual orientation is a choice, and if you choose gay, that's bad." All I'm saying is, "We choose."
Some people, of course, do make judgments about our choice — and those people usually want us to suffer for it.
I am thrilled to have chosen lesbianhood. I consider myself a gay activist. I feel like I am privileged to be gay. But gay men and lesbians still get upset when I start talking about choice, and I believe it's because they think I'm saying that everyone is straight and some people choose to be gay.
Not at all.
I think everyone is bisexual, and people choose to be gay or straight.
When I say "everyone," I mean "the majority of people." If it weren't for the tremendous social, religious and political pressure to be straight, I think that we would see a more natural breakdown of sexual orientation.
Think about it anecdotally for a moment.
I know women who have been with men for years and then turned to women. I also know women who have been with women for years and turned to men. I also know "straight" women who have had one or more pleasurable experiences with other women and "lesbians" who have had one or more pleasurable experiences with men.
Women like this tend to not identify as bisexual. Instead, they say they're straight and then they say they've come out or that they were experimenting; or they say that they're lesbians and then — and then what?
Usually, women-affiliated women who turn to men don't have an easy word to call themselves. Like my acquaintance, many of these women still feel like part of the lesbian community. They still want to think of themselves as lesbians. They're just in love or attracted to or heavily emotionally involved with men.
But we kick them out. Why? I think it's because we're threatened. We're scared that it shows that perhaps we choose to be lesbian after all.
But if, in fact, we do choose, then we might as well let them stay in. Let them identify as lesbians. Why not?
Isn't it better to have more of us rather than less? Isn't it better for us if the majority of America realizes that, in fact, they are bisexual, and if they deny gay men and lesbians their full rights,they are denying their own rights, too?
For the majority of us, "lesbian" and "gay" are not biological identities. Biologically, most of us are bisexual. What they are is political identities that often (but not always) describe the relationships that we currently choose.
Being gay is a choice, but it's a great choice. It's a natural choice, shared by many species in the animal kingdom. It's a choice more people would choose if they knew it was available to them, and not just limited to the select few that have never felt attraction to someone of the opposite sex.
Let's open the doors.
© 2005 The Washington Blade | A Window Media Publication