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“i’m on the right track, baby”

November 3, 2011

So, taking a leaf from G, i am going to try to post more frequently.  Which, of course, i’ve said before, but i thought i had a decent start at it anyhow so i should give it a shot.  Also from G, who got it from elsewhere, a prompt:

What is one early memory that makes you nod your head and say, “Yep. I was born this way?” Tell us about your root.

I realize this is a fun and silly question which i ought to respond to with tales of my childhood as a boy (although how that relates to being a grownup queer femme, i haven’t a clue), or my 3rd-grade crush on Paula Abdul.

But, honestly, i’m kind of pissed off about the related movement in queer activism.

I always joke when it comes up that i wasn’t born this way; i chose to be queer ’cause it’s more fun.  It is only sort of a joke.  It is kind of true in the same way that i don’t really feel that i have a coming out story, because i never felt closeted.  It just kind of hadn’t occurred to me.

It is also not exactly a joke because i genuinely don’t want to be associated with the “born this way” activist trend.  Mind, i am not saying that you weren’t born gay.  I’m not even saying i wasn’t born queer (maybe i was, in that shades of grey and lack of definition are an inherent part of me).  I’m not saying anything at all about your personal self-definition.  I’m just saying that it is politically heinous.

Emphasizing that being gay is okay because it is an in-born trait implies that it is only okay because it is in-born, or genetic, or somehow we can’t help ourselves.

Politically, it is shooting ourselves in the foot for short-term gain. Sure, most folks who don’t approve of the gay are more open to accepting the helplessness argument, but using that argument capitulates to the anti-gay logic.  You have to accept us for who we are, which – yes – would be nice, and – yes – will probably happen faster this way.  But you don’t need to change anything else.  You can still feel sorry for us for being born the wrong way.  You can still think that being gay is awful, and you can still think that we think so too.  After all, we can’t help that we were born this way; if we could, clearly we would all choose to be straight.

Which brings us to my main issue: the “born this way” movement is dramatically anti-choice.  It says that you can’t morally police me, because this trait is inherent.  It implies that you are still perfectly fine to morally police folks who do choose to do things you don’t approve of.  And it wrongfully implies that this is not about choices.  As far as i am concerned, that is the opposite of what being a queer activist is about.  The whole point, in my mind, is that i can choose to do anything i damn well please, so long as i am not hurting anyone.

In this particular context, my argument is the same as those that will be leveled against us.  But the fact is, what they say is true, though i disagree with their conclusions.  That is: it doesn’t matter how you were born; you make choices about how you live.

And if you are happy with the choices you’ve made, you should defend them, rather than hiding from them.  As the anti-gay fringe claims, you can be gay as you like and choose “not to act on it.” But the folks i know who tried that lived really miserable not-gay (or fake-straight) lives, and at some point chose to live happier gay lives instead.  That is a choice.  And it is a choice we should all be able to defend for the valid, healthy and strong choice it is, rather than pretending that it simply couldn’t be helped.

Lady Brett

"Born This Way" - Lady Gaga
(full disclosure: i had to look this up to get a lyric...
i've heard a lot of talk, but i've not heard the song before now.)
2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 7, 2011 10:22 pm

    Wow. I hadn’t even thought of it that way. To be honest, I hadn’t thought of it much at all. Maybe because I know it’s a Lady Gaga song, and that’s about all I know about it because I’m not really a fan, so I haven’t bought into that as some sort of anthem, like some have.

    You’re absolutely right; we all make a conscious choice to live our lives the way we do, and that doesn’t biology for a crutch. Great post.

  2. November 8, 2011 9:40 pm

    ha. fair enough. i think this would qualify as reading way too far into it if it were simply a reaction to the song. it is probably a sign of the extent to which i am embedded in the lefty community that i saw this on t-shirts before i knew it was a song =)

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