I have always been gay. Looking back at my childhood I can see those moments which clearly stand out. I can look at myself as a child and know that being gay was not something I ever chose to be. It was something I just was. The only choice it seems I made in life was when I chose to follow a straight life and completely deny the person I truly was. That was a seriously bad choice. It was the worst choice and the wrong choice, which almost destroyed me completely.
I was talking to a family member recently who I had not spoken to in a very long time. They told me although they did not approve of the choice I have made in my life they were glad to see me happy. Once again from someone the ugly word “choice” reared its ugly head and even though this family member had the best of intentions it still stung with the fact they had no clue or understanding what they had just said or the person I truly was.
I think about my early years. I could have fallen into every single gay stereotype you could imagine. The Wizard of Oz was hands down my favorite film and I cried the day my sister told me Judy Garland was dead. At five years old I was a huge fan of the non-intentional campy film The Valley of Dolls. In my opinion, what five year did not want to grow up like the tragic Patty Duke character Nealy O’Hara? Hey let’s remember she was living with that hottie Ted Casablanca. I wanted desperately to be a Jet and dance through the streets of New York just like in West Side story. You could often find me dancing in front of my house replaying scenes and musical numbers. I knew the complete Streisand songbook by heart and would sing it completely if provoked. And most of all I had a huge attraction to Tom Jones and the Greatest American Hero. Yes I was a weird kid. A very weird kid but I was also gay even before I knew anything about sex or sexuality. I just was.
Times have changed and growing up gay is much different than in the seventies and eighties. There is much more acceptance now than ever before even though the world as a whole has a long way to go. So why do we have to still hear heterosexual people tell us they either approve or disapprove of what they believe is our choice? It is a ridiculous statement considering we never in return stated the obvious if I chose to be gay then they must have chosen to be straight. Of course that is ridiculous statement. It is ridiculous no matter who you are. So why do straight people like to parade it out constantly? Is it a fear that if it is not a choice a family member or even their own child could be gay? Is it their way of handling their own prejudice and behavior concerning gay people? Does it make them feel superior or more Christian to state and believe it is a choice? Is it guilt? I think it must be a combination of all these things and more. In some way it is being supportive without truly having to say I give you my support for being a homosexual and I understand it is a completely normal way of being. It almost an easy way out so no one ever will point a finger at them concerning their own sexuality. Like I told someone years ago,”Sexuality is not black or white. Sexuality is a series of grays.”
For most of us being gay is something we did not choose. It was not something we became because it is fashionable. It is not something we chose to rebel against societal norms. It is not something we became in order to hurt family members or to cause them shame. It is just how we were created. It is in every fiber of who we are as people. The damage comes when you make the serious mistake of telling someone they can choose to be or not to be gay because that is a complete lie. It is a lie which often leads to unhappiness and suicide for those who believe they can choose and try to hide their true self. What do you think conversion therapy is all about?
So please be supportive and please never say to a gay person that you support their choice. Believe me when I tell you that is was not a choice for us in the same way it was not a choice for you to be straight. We were born this way and so were you.