I quite like this slogan. Hate is certainly voluntary. And although, as it happens, I’m straight so can’t speak from personal experience, I have no difficulty accepting that being gay is likely to stem from a genetic predisposition. When you consider what most LBGT young people suffer on their way to adulthood, it’s hard to imagine they wouldn’t choose to fit in if they could. I think most of my gay friends and family would say they are gay because they just are, that it isn’t a matter of choice.
But that’s not the way everyone would see it. One very dear friend of mine identifies herself as pan-sexual. She tells me that it is the person she falls in love with, not their gender, and that she is equally as likely to find herself falling in love with a woman as a man. She tells me she is sexually attracted to both. This makes sense to me when she explains it but there are those – even in the gay community – who think my friend is just kidding herself, that there’s no such thing as a genuine bi-sexual orientation. That a person is either heterosexual, homosexual, asexual or celibate. They would say that my friend is just in denial and that really, she’s a lesbian. Now they could be right for all I know, but I’d ask: why on earth should my friend feel obliged accept a label of someone else’s choosing? Is her sexual identity really anyone’s business but her own?
That’s what I find a little bit worrying. Any suggestion that there is a ‘real’ kind of gay is disturbing. I mean, do we really accept LGBTIQ people only because they are genetically bound to be same-sex attracted? If a person who considered themselves to be of heterosexual orientation did choose to have one, or multiple or even a lifetime of same-sex relationships, and even use the term gay to describe themselves, would that not be OK? I mean, whose business is it why anyone else is in any sort of relationship, same-sex or hetero, so long as the relationship is between consenting adults? Surely people can decide these private matters for themselves without others judging the validity of their motive.
It’s my view that we need to be accepting of diversity, of the idea that consenting adults can suit themselves about how to live and love. We love our LGBTIQ friends and family because of who they are, not because they fit neatly into some box so that we can easily understand them. If we base acceptance on some genetically predetermined orientation – even if genetics are the cause of same-sex orientation for most gay and lesbian people – aren’t we in danger of denying acceptance to people whose sexuality isn’t quite so clearly defined as it is for others? And perhaps then we force people – who are still figuring out where they will land, or may just enjoy a variety of relationships over their lifetime – to pick sides…or else.
I tend to think we’ll see the world taking a more flexible attitude to sexual identity as time goes by. I suspect we’ll find more and more people choosing short- and long-term relationships based on the capacity of those relationships to provide mutual enrichment, without regard to whether they happen to fit rigid gender guidelines. I think we’ll find we have to expand our definitions even beyond gay, lesbian, bi-, transgender, intersex and queer. Maybe the time to include ‘pan-sexual’ on that list is already here.
While I think the fact that being gay isn’t generally voluntary is an important point to make on the way to changing public attitudes, I would not like to see that in an effort to gain the community acceptance they deserve as human beings, LGBT people establish a sort of gay elitist class that excludes those who don’t neatly fit into one box or the other. We should stand against hatred, not because the haters are hating on something that can’t be helped, but because hating people – any sort of people, for any reason – is just plain wrong.
Just some thoughts anyway. I’d be interested to hear from LGBT people on the subject.