I’ve long been an advocate of the fact that humans do not choose their sexuality. I’ve also always believed in the “shades of gray” theory of human sexuality, if you want to call it that. Sexuality is not defined in a binary manner. It’s not a 0 or a 1. It can be an infinite number of options in between and sometimes it takes a while to figure out (or come to terms with) your number.
Recently, Cynthia Nixon (star of Sex and the City) gave an interview to the New York Times about her personal life.
Nixon had been married to a man for 15 years and they had two children together. They apparently had an amicable split in 2004, after which Nixon started a relationship with a woman. They became engaged in 2009 and had a child (via family-friend donor) in 2011. In the article, Nixon describes her sexuality as a choice.
“I gave a speech recently, an empowerment speech to a gay audience, and it included the line ‘I’ve been straight and I’ve been gay, and gay is better.’ And they tried to get me to change it, because they said it implies that homosexuality can be a choice. And for me, it is a choice. I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me. A certain section of our community is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice, because if it’s a choice, then we could opt out. I say it doesn’t matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not.” Her face was red and her arms were waving. “As you can tell,” she said, “I am very annoyed about this issue. Why can’t it be a choice? Why is that any less legitimate? It seems we’re just ceding this point to bigots who are demanding it, and I don’t think that they should define the terms of the debate. I also feel like people think I was walking around in a cloud and didn’t realize I was gay, which I find really offensive. I find it offensive to me, but I also find it offensive to all the men I’ve been out with.”
Naturally both sides of the issue freaked out. Lots of “I TOLD YOU SO” from one side, and “sighhhhhh” from the other side. I think many in the LGBT community felt that if a prominent, famous woman came out and said “yea, I chose this” then they would somehow lose the fight for the definition of sexuality as not a choice. Nixon went on to clarify:
“While I don’t often use the word, the technically precise term for my orientation is bisexual. I believe bisexuality is not a choice, it is a fact. What I have ‘chosen’ is to be in a gay relationship. As I said in the Times and will say again here, I do, however, believe that most members of our community — as well as the majority of heterosexuals — cannot and do not choose the gender of the persons with whom they seek to have intimate relationships because, unlike me, they are only attracted to one sex.”
Makes sense. No harm, no foul. But, this whole exchange got me thinking. Why should it matter if it’s a choice, anyway? I cannot think of a legitimate answer to that question. I don’t believe human rights should be tied exclusively to the mechanism that causes an action. Or, said differently: I don’t believe the state should discriminate against its citizens due to their personal life, choice or not. If sexual orientation discrimination is eliminated across the board tomorrow (that would be fantastic) I think it would be tainted just a bit if it was done only because of this grand realization that sexuality is not a choice. If someone is happy living their life with a person of the same sex, even if it is a choice, then why shouldn’t they have the same rights as everyone else?
Maybe I’m over reaching, but I feel like all of my efforts to convince people that sexuality is not a choice, and all of the efforts of the LGBT community to convince society that sexuality is not a choice might have been misplaced. Maybe the argument shouldn’t have been “born this way;” maybe it should have been: “don’t tread on me.”