Link to Pride article to which I am responding: http://www.pride.com/lgbt/2016/4/22/5-reasons-lgbt-people-should-stop-saying-we-were-born-way
I recently came across this article from “Pride” on line recently. The female author, Cassie Sheets, speaking from her perspective, extrapolated some broad generalizations from her female point of view pertaining to “gay people,” that I had heard before from a female friend of mine that identifies as “bisexual.” My friend was in female to female relationships for many years and then later switched to female-male relationships. I have seen this with other women I have known in my life and it does appear that women do tend to be more fluid in their sexuality than men but I think it is dangerous for these women to assume men have anything like the same experience. I might be able to read about the experience of women in an article written by a woman but I would not depend on an article written about the experience of being a woman, written by a man. In the same way, I would not depend on an article written by a white person defining what it is to experience being a minority person. There is always something that is lost when one set of people attempt to define another set of people. Bisexual women for whom sexuality is “fluid” should not attempt to define Gay men, for whom it is not.
There are several glaring errors in these suppositions about gay men. The title of the article is “5 Reasons LGBT People Should Stop Saying We Were “Born This Way.” Obviously, Cassie is a millennial and may not have much real experience in the struggle for equal rights. She has benefitted from my generations Acting UP and fighting the long fight. Now she comes along and it is easy for her to take issue with Lady Gaga’s song, but I would say that GaGa get’s it much more right for gay men than does Cassie. Cassie apparently feels that she was not necessarily born “gay” and that her sexuality is “fluid” and maybe merely a “choice” as my bisexual female friend has implied as well. That is all fine except when they draw conclusions from their own experience and apply those conclusions to gay men, millennial or otherwise.
On point #2, in her article, Cassie goes on from a woman’s point of view, talking about sexuality being “fluid” and I just don’t think that is as true for men as it might be for women. Straight men might have a sexual encounter with another man early in their life but that does not change their “identity” from straight to gay. In my many years of life, I have found that most gay men DO believe they were born gay and object to fundamentalist evangelicals implying that somehow it is merely a “choice.” Most, would have never “chosen” to be gay and most struggle with coming out of the closet.
Most gay men go through a “grieving” process about their sexuality. For most of our lives, when we first start coming to terms with our sexuality, usually in our teens or early twenties, we go through a period of “denial and isolation.” We are in the “closet.” We may have some “anger” and act out is some way, often towards ourselves. There is a “bargaining” phase in which we beg the universe or God not to be gay. We go through a period of “depression.” Finally, we realize that it is really society that has the problem and we are fine the way we are and we learn to embrace our sexuality and learn to love ourselves as we are. Cassie seems to negate and neglect all of this. Anyone that uses the word “fluid” or “continuum” or “choice” pertaining to gay men apparently have no understanding of gay men.
On the other hand, I have known many women for whom sexuality does seem much more “fluid.” I won’t speak for women, but please don’t think that women can speak for gay men. We are not “fluid.” We are not on a “continuum.” It is not a “choice.” By extrapolating your female experience on to gay men, you are feeding into the fundamentalist evangelical arguments and you are hurting us.
In Cassie’s point #3, she says that “We didn’t all figure things out at the age of five.” Yes, it is true that “…we often don’t have the resources to name our own gender or sexual orientation until later in life,” but most gay MEN know from a very early age that there is something “different” about them from other boys. It is not just about sex. Maybe this is not true for gay women but I have never known a gay male that did not know something was different about them from as far back as they can remember. Usually, it isn’t until after puberty that they realize what that something different is and have the “resources” to name what it is.
Cassie concludes her article by saying, “Rather than arguing that we’re born this way, (which won’t make a difference to those who wish we hadn’t been born at all)” I think this is patently false. Because I am much older than Cassie, I think I have a longer view of society and it’s response to homosexuality. When science revealed that sexuality was probably NOT a choice but inherent for whatever reason, society’s attitude began to change. When people realized that gay people ARE “born this way,” people began being more open and accepting. The conclusion that homosexuality is not merely a “choice” HAS made an incredible difference and has brought us to where we are today, where Cassie can have her inaccurate, cavalier undermining voice
It is true that “we should fight for everyone to be treated like a person regardless of how they were born or the choices they make,” but as I have already said, and will repeat, it is also true that implying that sexuality is merely a choice feeds into the fundamentalist evangelical argument of sexuality being merely a choice, takes us back fifty years, and does us more harm than good.