Living in the Bible Belt, the topic of homosexuality comes up quite a bit. Seems to be a favorite among rednecks and the religious right.
One of the things that comes up the most in this, is how homosexuals choose to be homosexuals. It is among their most used arguments for anything that does not agree with what they do/think. This is especially funny (by which I mean annoyingly frustrating), since none of them made the choice to be straight, religious, etc.
My normal response to this is as follows:
If sexuality were truly a choice, I would be gay.
Quick, simple, and to the point.
If not the person I am talking to, someone who heard will always ask me, "Why?"
I don't say that just to shut up the person I am talking to, because it is a very true statement. One that I was still not comfortable enough to admit until a year or so ago (mostly because I was afraid it would make me sound bitter for being straight, and belittle how amazing my wife and [now also] son are). Also, the people that ask why, are not always anti-gay. Some are very passionate supporters of gay rights, and some are even gay themselves. I always stumble around my answers, and do all I can to avoid it. The situation is never one in which I can really explain why, and I am not always comfortable opening up that much with every person that brings up that lame argument of choice when there is no choice.
I'm going to try and explain now, though.
Like most awkward children growing up, I felt different from everyone else. Like an outcast that didn't fit in, or belong to any group of people. Also, like most children growing up, I had no clue that pretty much everyone else at the time felt this way. Perhaps that can be contributed to how easily we all got along and played in the first 5 to 6 years of our lives, before we learn to segregate ourselves based on things that are almost always beyond our control; at which time we only notice ourselves being shunned, and see everyone else as still going about in total bliss.
Whatever the reasons, it was around this time (the end of 2nd grade) that I truly started to feel different from everyone else. Home life wasn't ideal, but what child of the 80s and 90s can really say their home life was ideal? I was another product of the times. A child with divorced parents being raised by his grandparents. As I got older, I discovered this was far more common in my area than the typical nuclear family.
I was one of the shy kids that didn't know where the middle ground was between being super shy, and being the obnoxiously loud class clown (this did not change until I was in my early 20s, and even now I often have difficulty). I had a couple of friends, but no matter what group of friends I was with, I was always the odd one out. Too skinny, too much of a sissy, too weird, etc. If I was with the athletic friends, I was too analytical of everything (a.k.a. nerd), and with the smart kids I was too dumb. I only really felt accepted when hanging out with my aunt, but she was getting older (she is 5 years my senior) and her older friends all treated me like a baby, which is something people do far too often to those younger than themselves. I really can't think of too many things more frustrating than someone talking down to you because you are younger than they are.
I spent the rest of my academic career like this. Finding a group of friends, and feeling just a tad bit out of place with them. The older I got, the more dumb and broken I felt. I was in and out of special ed until someone mentioned I might have a learning disorder that medication would help, and then I spent the next decade medicated with little to no follow-up by the doctors giving out the pills.
But now I'm getting ahead of myself.
When I was around 10 to 12 years old, I started seeing talk shows that were talking to gay men and women; and noticing movies dealing with discrimination against homosexuals. I watched and listened to these people explaining why they should not be hated for who they are, so long as they are not hurting anyone. It made sense to me, but no one around me seemed to agree. At least not anyone that was vocal about the subject.
After a while, I noticed how diverse these groups of people being interviewed were. How open and accepting they seemed to be of everyone, regardless of where they were from, what they believed in, what color their skin was, etc. They didn't even care if you were gay or straight, just so long as you were yourself and open to loving and accepting everyone for who they were. And on top of everything, not a single one of them seemed to be shy once they were openly vocal about their sexual orientation.
That was all I needed. It was what I had been searching for: A group that wouldn't make me feel weird, that wouldn't see me as the dumb kid, or the eccentric boy talking to rocks. They were like hippies that shaved and bathed.
But I had no clue how to contact any gay groups for the West Georgia area, and Atlanta was a long way for a 12 year old to ride his bike.
Then one day I overheard my mother and sister talking. My sister was on the couch, and our mother at the sink in the kitchen. I don't know how the conversation started, but the parts that I caught were all about me and my sexuality. Apparently my sister thought my being too shy to speak to girls was a sign that I was gay. Now, coming from the area that we do, and knowing how most everyone we knew reacted to things back then, I was shocked to hear our mother say it didn't matter if I was gay or not. She said it was my choice, and no one else's. My immediate reaction was to come out of the hallway and tell them I wasn't gay... Which I did. I felt like someone being blamed for a fart that wasn't theirs, only looking more and more guilty as they tried to deny it.
The comment stuck with me for a long time, though. It was my choice. So I made that choice. I decided if I couldn't fit into a heterosexual world, I was going to fit into a homosexual one. I just needed to figure out how to make myself like dudes.
As it turns out, that's damn near impossible. I'd like to say it is impossible, but I've met some people that can convince themselves into believing just about anything.
I knew not to call myself gay, because that would get me beat up more than I was already getting beat up, and it would likely be a lot more brutal. I'd seen an episode of Hard Copy (could have been another late night show), that talked about the death of Brandon Teena. I wasn't about to get myself killed over something I had not yet become.
I tried to make myself think about men in the same manner that I thought about women (which was all the fucking time). I couldn't do it. The thought of being with a man physically, even before I had ever been with a woman, was disgusting. You could just say the word "woman" and my mind was instantly filled with the most perverted thoughts imaginable, while my bodily was immediately looking for a place in which to release these thoughts. Try to throw a guy into the mix, and my penis would try to crawl backward inside of me in order to rip out my intestines and shove them out of my ass. The thought of anything entering my butthole made me want to cry, and hesitant to even go to the bathroom.
It just wasn't happening.
I eventually gave up trying to be gay, and gave into my obsession with women. Then it happened again. Two people talking about my sexuality while they thought I was passed out drunk. When I was a kid I was gay for not talking to girls. Then, as an almost adult, I was gay because of the number of women I was with. Apparently I was overcompensating, rather than being a young guy doing what all young guys want to do.
Maybe they were right. Maybe I was overcompensating for regressed feelings that I was unable to bring to the surface on my own. Perhaps I needed to experiment to find out the truth. To bring the Gay out of me, so I could be who I'd always wanted.
Yeah, that didn't work. That didn't even come close to working. In fact, all that did was show me how gross other men are, and how easily my lifestyle and personal hygiene could easily be called "girly" in comparison. Men are filthy whether they are straight or gay, and it makes me glad I was raised in a home full of women. Seriously guys, you're all fucking gross.
It wasn't until I had a conversation with a homeless man (I recommend talking to any homeless person that has not asked for money, given a long bullshit story, or that has something for sale that isn't stolen; like flowers. They'll share a wisdom and outlook with you, that no one else can or will) outside of a bar near Ft. Gordon, that I truly accepted my heterosexuality. He told me how, when he was a kid, his parents sent him to one of those camps that are supposed to make gay children straight. No matter how hard those children tried to be straight, or even how straight they acted; at the end of each day, they were still gay. The only thing they were learning, was how to deny what they were, and how to convince others that their denial was truth.
Then he asked me why I'd want to put myself through the same thing, just to get onto the underdog's team.
Three things hit me then:
1. I didn't need to be a part of any group, especially if it meant changing who I was.
2. I am was more comfortable sitting on a sidewalk talking with a mentally unstable homeless man like Phillip, than I was inside the bar behind us.
3. The only choice in sexuality, is the choice to accept or deny who you are. A gay man having straight sex, is still a gay man; and there are a lot of straight people in prison willing to confirm that gay sex doesn't make someone gay.
That night I stopped wondering if I was secretly gay, and just unaware, and realized I'm just too fucking awesome to fit into any one group.
For anyone that may be reading this and thinking my explanation for why I wanted to be gay but couldn't, is just anecdotal bullshit that does nothing but show how my mind is a little warped and broken; I am posting links below.
Biological versus nonbiological older brothers and men’s sexual orientation
The Science of Homosexuality
Biology Behind Homosexuality
Homosexuality: Nature or Nurture
Because I can't not post a Cracked article