being ‘really’ gay

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.


4 thoughts on “being ‘really’ gay

  1. Phil Browne says:

    People do not choose to be gay bi or whatever – just the same as straight people don’t choose to be straight. Sexuality is determined genetically. sexuality is also not totally black or white for some people who are not at either end of the sexuality spectrum, but somewhere in between with attraction to both sexes, of varying degrees.

    People who claim sexuality is chosen need to stop and think. Why would anyone choose to be gay? Why would you choose a life where you are not readily accepted by all people and open to verbal and physical attack just because of who you love?

    When I meet people who think sexuality is chosen I like to ask them when did they chose to be straight. This is useful to ask politicians who do not support LGBT equality. Watch this great You Tube clip

  2. Having been in a heterosexual relationship and a homosexual relationship, I can tell you that I’m gay. But only 99% gay.

    Makes me think that if I’m 1% heterosexual, then there must be a sliding scale for sexuality.

    I don’t care about who you are attracted too, I care about you as a person. The world is made up of lots of people, and we do best as a society when we accept each other for who we are.

    Thanks for the post.

  3. coaxproductions says:

    The glbtiq community is based on otherness and shame to get into the group basically you are saying “I’m not straight” but once ur in the group there is a ridged culture formed by years of oppression.

    The strict guidelines might seem odd from an outsider but they were formed because saying “I’m gay” or “I’m a lesbian” you gained access to a group that not only accepted you but protected you. The gay night clubs gave jobs to young gay boys who had nowhere to go, no money, no protection.

    Some people feel they don’t need the protection anymore so they feel the gay community doesn’t offer them anything. They might not ad that’s ok. But the gay community gained power through the label. Gay and lesbian rights were fought by coming together under a label this was not random but deliberate.

    Since gay culture has become more mainstream there are many people who wish it was still fringe, separate, no blurry lines. They want to know who is on their team.

    Plus there is fear that people who fall in love with the person not the gender that, “I will never be good enough” or “they will leave me, how can you commit to me if you can’t even commit to a label”

    Human beings are wired for connection but struggle to connect. The labels help you know who might be a good choice for you.

    Don’t forget how powerful a name is.

    • jane douglas says:

      Thanks for commenting. I wrote this blog post a long time ago…back before anyone was reading it, and as kind of a stream of consciousness thing. I’ve learned more since then and am way more cautious about commenting on issues where I haven’t got first hand experience, or a more fully formed opinion. I appreciate your taking the trouble to explain your view. I’m always glad to hear.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: