The perennial discussion of the question of “choice” has shown up again, at least on my feeds. Perhaps you’ve seen the video in which people are asked when they chose to be straight.1 Not particularly “new,” but Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” song also argues against any aspect of choice.
Lately, however, I’ve seen people I respect calling for the removal of the anti-choice stigma. If there’s nothing wrong with being queer,2 then why does it matter whether or not someone chooses it? Is it really so undesirable or inferior that it makes one less of a person if they choose to be queer? And I understand where they are coming from–after all if it is “just” a genetic predisposition that is inferior or undesirable, then why can’t we treat it like alcoholism?
Obviously, I think the issue is probably more nuanced, and I’ve just had an experience with members of the academy, in a different field, wrenching data to fit their perspectives. Instead of analyzing any kind of scholarship at this time, I’m going to talk about my own experiences.
I did not chose to be attracted to women. I did not chose that being with a man would be as unnatural as anything Paul describes in Romans 1.
However, I did choose. I chose to stop denying the reality of who I am. I chose to stop trying to force myself to be something or someone I was not. I chose to stop feeling like a failure as a woman because I failed at being a heterosexual wife. I chose to be Sandy and to be Sandy authentically.
And I made this choice knowing full well there would be consequences.
I knew my parents would not approve. I knew I would lose friends. I knew there would be difficulties. I knew I would hurt a good man who did nothing wrong–and to be honest, this is what I regret more than anything else in my life.
And I made a choice. It was not an easy choice. I was under the care both of a counselor and a psychiatrist at this time. I worried about telling people, even when I knew for certain they would be supportive. Even when I found myself struggling with suicide fantasies, I wondered if my own personal suffering would not be better than hurting my husband, the lost of relationships, or the difficulties I would face. After much time, tears, and pain, I made a choice.
Even with knowing there would be consequences, I had no idea what those would be. I did not know I would be blamed for a miscarriage.3 I did not know my parents would blackmail me into resigning my ordination. I did not know the complexity of the financial realities would I face. I did not know the stress would cause my brain to blip for a moment causing a single stress-related seizure that would terrify the people who loved me.
With all of this, you might ask, “Did you make the right choice?” or “If you had to go back, would you have made the same choice?” The answer is yes. It’s not been easy. There are still challenges; there are still difficulties; there is still fear; there is still pain; there are still the unexpected occasions of weeping. Thankfully, I no longer experience the spiraling cycles of guilt. But yes, despite the cost, I made the right decision.
I did not decide to be a lesbian. I did decide to live authentically, and I would make that decision again and again
1–I actually think this video is flawed because when a couple of people say that they do not know if one is born that way or if development/socialization plays a part in it, he still asks when they chose to be straight, which I think is a complete misunderstanding of what they were saying.
2–I use the word “queer” here to mean anyone who is outside of the heterosexual-norm, including gender.
3–Redacted family history either claims this never happened or it was soon rectified.