Choose To Be Gay, Choose To Be Straight

I've been reading a book that explores Uganda's current attempt to pass the "Anti-Homosexuality Bill." The new law is quite sweeping: three years in prison for failing to report someone discovered to be homosexual, seven years for any sort of "promotion" (homosexual rights advocacy, including acknowledgment that homosexuality even exists), life imprisonment for one homosexual act, and death for "aggravated homosexuality" (defined to include sex while HIV-positive, sex with a disabled person, or sex more than one time). When the proponents of this measure (which is very popular) are asked why such a draconian penalty is appropriate, their reply always points to the demonic choice a "homo" (a current slang word in Uganda) makes to be gay. Besides, they point out, most Ugandans who learn someone is homosexual simply kill him/her, so the statute is actually a boon to the gay miscreant. Certainly if the statute is finally passed everyone in Uganda will know of the folly of choosing to be gay, and homosexuality, a product of Western influence by the way, will no longer exist there.

The choice to be homosexual? Even in a liberal country where homosexuality is not criminally punished, it's still often a major difficulty. Gays risk being beaten by teenagers enforcing the heterosexual point of view with baseball bats or fists (this has happened to me), or being fired from jobs, denied housing, forbidden to marry, shunned or evicted by their families, denied a visit to partners in hospitals, and much, much, much more. Lesbians are sometimes raped so they can experience a "real man," a very common practice in Africa, but not unknown anywhere on the globe. That said—and it's a lot to say—what kind of lunatic would make the incredible choice to be gay when the straight path leads to a simpler, easier life?

Of course the truth, recognized as unarguable by anyone who has explored the issue with an open mind, is that no choice of any kind is actually involved. One can choose to admit he/she is gay, but that same person has no ability to slough off his/her homosexuality and miraculously become straight. As I've discussed elsewhere in this blog (see "How to Change Gay People Into Straight People," September 20, 2010), it is impossible for anyone to change sexual orientation no matter how much desire or effort is put into the attempt. Religion can't do it; therapy can't do it; electric shock can't do it. Nothing.

Just as no one chooses to be gay, no one chooses to be straight. As far as science can tell children are programmed from birth to a sexual orientation over which they have no control (though bisexuals have more possibilities—Woody Allen once remarked that being bisexual doubles your chance for a date on Saturday night).

When the feminist movement was at its height it came down very strongly in favor of nurture (trained to be the way we are) versus nature (born that way) in the classic nature/nurture debate. There were even serious arguments that the whole idea of gender itself was a social construct, designed by men to keep women in their place. When I wed Charleyne (see, "I Married a Hippy," April 14, 2010) she was a dedicated feminist, determined that we should have a complete and equal partnership in marriage and when we became parents. Fine by me. When our son Clayton was born, Charleyne at one point gave him a doll as a Christmas gift. She wanted him to experience the fulfillment of knowing all the possibilities for play, in this case meaning the nurturing of someone littler than himself. But Clayton was having none of that. He didn't want to even hold the doll. He did, however, want to play with trucks. When Charleyne pointed out that he played with action figures (Superman, etc.), he was indignant. "Superman isn't a doll, Mom!" Why he was disdainful of the doll, but deemed Superman cool, confounded her. My explanation that it was genetic, preordained by evolution, was met with an icy stare. Decades later, long after the movement's high point, I read an interview with a feminist who laughed as she related how she'd vowed to teach her daughter proper self-worth, only to have the little girl betray her at every step. "When she was only three years old, I'd die with embarrassment seeing her flirt outrageously with men visiting our home!"

When Clayton was four or five he was watching some TV science fiction show, and one of the women in the episode was a very well-endowed, super-sexy vixen. The next day he went on and on, commenting about what a beautiful "dress" she wore. The truth was she'd only been pretending to wear clothes. I laughed about this when I told Barbara, my best friend, about Clayton's infatuation with this beauty. Later during Barb's visit, Clayton appeared and promptly told Barbara, whom he dearly loved, about this same attractive "dress." Teasing him, Barbara asked if she herself would look good in the dress. Since Barbara is a full-figured woman, not at all the skinny vamp of the show, Clayton was both embarrassed and stunned by her question. "Uh . . . er . . .YES!" he finally managed. I was both amused and dismayed to watch my only child discover the concept of a social lie.

Did the feminist's flirty daughter or Clayton ever have a moment where they considered a sexual attraction to the same sex and then rejected it in favor of heterosexuality? To ask the question is to answer it.

In my novel-in-progress, "Corbin Milk" (which I'm going to finish one of these days and finally publish), I relate an episode that the adult Corbin, a gay man, remembers from his youth. But the memory is nothing more than a re-creation of a true story I was told by a man with whom I once had a date. At some point during our evening together I asked him when he'd first had a clue he was gay. What follows, in my fictional version, is more or less exactly what he told me:

Corbin discovered he was gay at age five. It happened like this: one very hot July day, his parents were having a stone patio built in their backyard, and at one point his mother asked him to carry a tray of canned soft drinks to the two men who were working on this project. Corbin, who loved disguises even as a child, was dressed as Superman, blue shirt and tights (well, pajamas), red cape (well, a towel), and red socks (the best he could do for Superman’s boots). He’d pinned a hand-drawn “S” to the front of the shirt. The little boy struggled with the tray across the gravel patch between him and the men, balancing carefully and trying to ignore the pain to his feet from the stones—after all, Superman wouldn’t have any trouble doing this task! But the workmen looked up as he approached and noticed his discomfort problem. The bigger of the two rose to help him.

“Hey there, Superman,” he said, taking the tray. “Have to be careful not to hurt your feet on that gravel.”

“Gravel doesn’t hurt Superman!” Corbin informed him, nonetheless very glad to step onto the grass as the tray was taken from him.

“Thanks for the drinks,” the other man said, popping a can.

“Here,” the big man said, scooping Corbin up in his arms, “I’ll carry you back to the porch.”

Corbin started to object, but then was amazed to realize how wonderful it felt to be held closely by those big muscular arms, and on some basic level knew that he had to experience this thrill over and over again throughout the rest of his life.

Related Posts:
"The Aging Gay Rights Activist," March 24, 2010
"Frightening the Horses," April 4, 2010
“Homosexuality: The Iceberg Theory,” April 25, 2010
“How I Lost a Gay Marriage Debate,” April 29, 2010
“Straight Talk,” May 10, 2010
“Marijuana and Me,” July 11, 2010
“How To Tell if You’re Gay,” August 31, 2010
“The Thunderbolt,”September 3, 2010
“How To Change Gay People Into Straight People,” September 20, 2010
"How Many Homosexuals Are There in the World?" November 8, 2010
"The Homosexual Agenda To Conquer the World," February 8, 2011
"Seducing Straight Men," March 3, 2011
"Coming Out: How To Tell People You're Gay," March 27, 2011
"Jumping the Broom: How 'Married' are Married Gay Couples?" July 17, 2011

"The Legacy of Homophobia," August 2, 2011
"Going Undercover at an Ex-Gay Meeting," September 19, 2011
"The Presumption of Heterosexuality and the Invisible Homosexual," October 2, 2011
"Gay Bashers, Homophobes, and Me," January 27, 2012
"On Being a Gay Sports Fan," March 9, 2012
"Sexual Labels: Straight, Gay, Bi," April 15, 2012
"The History of Gay Rights in Columbus, Ohio," June 4, 2012
“I Support the Right of the Boy Scouts To Ban Gays,” July 24, 2012
Straight People: Thanks From the LGBT Community,” November 20, 2012
"Disowning Your Gay Children," October 9, 2013
"Republican Politicians: Reluctant Homophobes?" November 26, 2013
"Gays Will Be Able To Marry in All States By July of 2016 (and Maybe 2015): A Prediction,”       February 14, 2014
“Is It Legal To Discriminate Against Gay People?” March 19, 2014
“Does the Bible Condemn Homosexuality and Gay Marriage?” June 29, 2014
“Are Gays Really Just 1.6% of the U.S. Population?” July 22, 2014
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013


  1. Would the people that wrote the law in Uganda have to turn themselves in and serve 7 years in prison for acknowledging that homosexuality exists. After all, if it didn't exist, they wouldn't have had to write the law.


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