Being one of The Queers, I try to keep an ear tuned for any new developments in the state of the movement or discussing the state of the movement itself. It often extends to how people talk about queerness, which in turn extends to how people view queerness itself (more to come on that at a later date).
Far and wide, I’ve noticed that when queer people talk about defending themselves (and it’s awful how we still need to do that), the one trump card we can pull out against whatever numbskull is talking about how ooky queer people are is the biological defense. You’ve heard it. Lady Gaga has a song about it. Being gay or straight or anything else is coded right there into our genes, so you can’t change it. It’s usually followed by blowing raspberries and feeling empowered for a while.
I had held firm to this platform for a long time. The turning point was when a wonderful friend of mine rolled their eyes at somebody saying that people were born gay, and that was really all it took for me to start examining that viewpoint. My logic was that my friend was a really smart person so they must have rolled their eyes for a reason, and anyway, if it was sound logic, it would hold up against my scrutiny.
This is where science and sociological theory diverge for a little while. Setting aside whether or not biology definitively plays a role in our sexuality or gender, the question is this: what does it matter? The subtext to biological queerness is that we are born the way we are, and that human will plays no part in the matter. To me, that pays tremendous disservice to human will, and besides that, what if some people do choose?
What if queerness or straightness is a choice that some people can consciously make? Suppose I woke up this morning, rolled out of bed, decided that I want waffles for breakfast, and that I am going to feel sexual attraction exclusively to women today? Would that undercut my desires at all? Would it make me any less worthy of respect? What if I was genetically wired to be able to do that? Does that still fit the criteria of biological predestination?
The biggest problem with the idea of choosing gay or straightness is, of course, the idea that if being gay is a choice then we can “change” people back to straight. Regardless of whether or not biology factors into sexuality at all, the idea of reconditioning a person in that manner is barbaric and transgresses a fundamental line of human decency. But the institutions set up for that purpose are symptomatic of a larger problem—namely, that certain facets of society are homophobic as heck, and we need to change that.
What I’m trying to get at is this—disregard whether or not we were “born this way” or not, because it’s irrelevant. What we should be focusing on is making this world safe for everybody, regardless of whether or not they chose to love who they love. There should never be a reason to invalidate who you are.