One thing that I think is missing in a lot of the Queer dialogue that I hear is the importance of self identification. What I mean is that it is impossible for you to label someone’s sexual orientation, only they can do that.
Now, there is a difference between sexual orientation and sexual identity.
Sexual orientation describes your desires. Who and what sets off the tingly feeling in your pants.
Sexual identity is how you label yourself.
These do not always align, I know plenty of women who are attracted to women who identify as ‘Queer’ rather than ‘lesbian’. In other cases, people who engage in homosexual activities may not identify as gay. There is a difference between men who have sex with men, and men who identify as gay. Just because I am dating another woman does not mean I identify as a lesbian.
Long story short, until someone tells you how they identify, you cannot assume their label, nor can you go about giving them a label.
In the great debate over whether or not sexuality is a choice, I want to punch Cynthia Nixon in the face. While I
totally respect can tolerate that she thinks that maybe she is gay by choice, declaring it in that interview gives every anti-gay, homophobic asshole the ammunition to say, “Cynthia Nixon, a big gay herself, said its a choice so by George it must be!”
I don’t pretend to know exactly how sexual orientation is formed, and anyone who says they do is full of horse poopy, but there is an inherent problem in saying that it is EITHER genetic OR a choice. Which ever way it goes has complications…
Sexuality as a choice:
- Gives every right-wing, conservative, religious, bastard the ammunition to say that if sexual orientation is a choice then one can just simply choose to stop being gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/queer.
- However, there is some legitimacy in saying that one chooses to act upon their sexuality rather than live closeted. But this is in no way the same as saying that one chooses to be gay or straight.
- If Cynthia Nixon, or other people, believe that they chose to be gay than it’s not really my place to say that they didn’t; I have no way of knowing how they feel or how their sexual identity developed.
Sexuality as something we are born with:
- Some people are left-handed and some people aren’t. Some people are gay and some people aren’t. If its something we are born with than it’s just part of the natural variance within the human species and its nothing to be “changed” or “cured”.
- But (as was pointed out to me in my Gender and Sexuality Studies class) saying that we were “born this way” implies that if we DID have a choice we would choose to not be this way, but we can’t because it is something that we were born with – like some kind of birth defect.
It’s not by any means a pretty argument.
In Cynthia’s defense, she later clarified her comment, saying that bisexuality is NOT a choice but being in a relationship with a woman is.
Advice of the Day: Think before you speak, or crazy closeted republicans are going to turn what you say into a reason to deny people basic human rights. And that sucks.