I Hate The Phrase “Born This Way” and That’s Okay

hello all,

Hang on to your hats, cats, because today is the day I’m going to tackle a certain pet peeve of mine. Despite the name of the post, I’m not specifically talking about the Lady Gaga song. Rather, I want to talk about this idea that gets thrown around a lot in the marriage equality debate, where somebody supports marriage equality because queer people “can’t help it, they were born this way.”

Which is an incredibly gracious way of almost getting it right. It’s trying, and I do appreciate that, but I feel like it’s missing the mark. It’s true, we “can’t help” our orientations, but bringing that into the debate kind of opens up this whole other can of worms. This can of worms says “you didn’t choose this, so I guess we’ll concede” almost like being queer is something unfortunate that happens to people, not something that’s a part of a person’s identity. (And, gasp, can be something that person can be proud of.) Being queer isn’t anything to be ashamed of; if people could choose their sexuality, they would still deserve respect. 

The other big flaw in this is that it leaves the door wide open for people who still think gay sex is a little icky, and therefore feel inclined to say things like “well, you may not be able to choose your orientation, but you can choose if you act on it” and “I don’t care what you do, just as long as I don’t have to look at it.” This type of homophobe wants us out of their field of vision, to avoid being visibly coupled, or even to be abstinent. While our entire society has this shitty hangup on sexuality being about actions, and not about the feelings those actions express, that crumminess really shines through when people say stuff like this. (Straight people aren’t immune to this influence…consider our culture’s obsession with PIV sex and virginity.)  I can almost see why this would be an appealing way of looking at things, too, since it’s way easier to define people by the things they do. Knowing how a person feels is difficult, since you actually have to communicate with them and stuff, which is a huge fucking drag. However, having gotten the annoying end of people’s attitudes on this subject, I would just like to say that it feels awful to have this thrown in your face. I’ve come out to people casually only for them to literally quiz me on my sexual history, trying to determine if I really am bisexual, when they could have just respected my privacy and believed me. Then there’s the question that never really seems to go away, which is “Well, okay, but if you had to choose…?” Of course, this question is absurd…I could flip a coin and then only date whoever the coin tells me to date, but it wouldn’t change my orientation.

And here’s the thing: falling under the LGBTQA+ umbrella is not something we should try to change, if only we could. There is nothing inherently better or worse about heterosexuality. It’s just different, and no, nobody can really “help” their sexual orientation, but that’s not the reason we deserve respect. We deserve to have the same rights just by nature of being human. (And some pretty cool humans, at that.)

thanks for reading,

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