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queer religion wars

Argument Number Five:

"It's a choice!"

It's the hymn of the Christian, and it's usually said by people who have never come into contact with real homosexuals (or at least never really got to know them). "Homosexuality is a choice" they intone in their best James Dobson voice.

While people believe that, every gay and lesbian person I know would have done anything to have found a way to change. What person in their right mind would choose to go through what most gay men and women go through in their lives? My friends also have a song: "Who would choose this?" they sing in refrain. Most of the guys I know tried sleeping with girls. Many of them even got married, thinking that would solve their problem. Most of the women I know tried sleeping with men and also married and had children.

In Seattle where I live, we have a very popular pastor who has set himself so strongly against the gay community that he has taken on legislators, city councilmen, and even the governor in his efforts to overthrow a particular bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against gays and lesbians. As a black man, he's upset that for him, he's a victim of racism, but for the gay community, they've made a choice and therefore don't deserve any of the compassion that should be headed his way.

As I began to realize I was gay, I did just that-I began to realize. I didn't decide to fall in love with John Travolta (he was my first "famous actor" crush). I was innocently watching him in Grease when all of a sudden I found myself drawn to him the way my friends were drawn to Olivia Newton John. When I had those dreams that boys that age get, instead of involving women, mine involved men. I felt betrayed, even in my dreams.

Homosexuality isn't a choice, it's a discovery. The same way heterosexuality is a discovery. A young boy one day discovers that girl's breasts make weird things happen to him in the pit of his stomach and that they're all he can think about. A young girl suddenly finds that she's drawn to a guy because of his looks, or because of his personality or because of his body. But she begins to realize that it's not just about friendship. She realizes that she wants to be intimate with him. These are discoveries, and most healthy parents don't fault the kids for having these feelings. It's just like growing breasts. Girls don't choose to grow breasts, they just grow breasts. None of us chose to be sexual, we are sexual beings. It's built into us.

The same is true with the gay boy or girl. Suddenly a boy discovers that the look and feel of another boy causes him to feel funny inside, and he starts to tingle in the groin area. The girl sees another girl and wants to be close and intimate. But there's another discovery that goes along with these discoveries. Unlike their counterparts who can express their feelings to their friends, and in some cases their parents, gays and lesbians can't because of their fear of retribution.

Let's look at another aspect about choice. For this I'm going to use as my analogy the example of a computer. Computers work on two basic principles: computer hardware and computer software. Computer hardware is the computer itself. The hard drive, the box it comes in, the chip, the wiring. On a computer, those things cannot be changed. Then there's the software. The software is what runs the computer, like the operating system, a word processor, a graphics program. All these things help the computer do its work, and they can be added or removed as the user feels the need.

So how does this work in real life. Well, let's look at our hard drive. We have our height, our eye color, our hair color, our genetic makeup, our gender. These are things that we cannot change (with a few exceptions). This is our hard drive. What is our software? Our beliefs change from day to day, year to year. We can change where we live, what clothes we wear, who we choose to associate with, what we eat, how much we eat. All these are choices that we can make. This is our software. No matter how much I want to, I will never be able to grow another inch. I can change my hair color, but only through dyes and bleaches, and always the true color will find its way through no matter how I try to change that. That's the nature of things. That's the hardware. Here's an example of how it works. Suppose I told you to stop being straight, and have a homosexual affair? Could you? Most of you couldn't. It would be just too difficult for you. Sexuality is very much located in our hard drives.

And there is also the issue commonly taught in reparative therapy that it's a breakdown in the father-son/mother-daughter relationship. For that I would like to use a little bit of math. For some reason people compare sexuality (hard drive) to environment (software). I can understand because it looks so similar. So this is where the math comes in. Let's say I have an equation. It looks something like this: X≥ X≤ X and I'm told to simplify that down as far as I can go. Can I simplify this any further? The answer is no. While X≥ and X≤ and X may look similar, in fact they are three completely different integers. That is the best way I can think of to try and explain the differences between sexuality and environment and upbringing. They're part of the same equation, but they're still very different. How does that saying go? God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Argument Six - The Bible Condemns it!