Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Strange Debate Over Sexual Choice

I just heard a recurring story and it is as confusing as ever to me.

Republican (and, now, seeker of the office of President) Ben Carson, some time ago, was asked if he thinks homosexuality is a choice. He said yes. Later, he was compelled to apologize for saying this by those who found the statement offensive.

Fight of the century.
In the blue corner, Freud.
Apologize for what? For being uninformed? When one is uninformed and, as a result, misspeaks, isn't it customary to simply correct one's statement? Why apologize, in this case?

Apparently, seemingly well-meaning people are thinking, "How dare you say homosexuality is a choice? I want an apology."

If the issue of homosexuality and its personal origin in the individual is debatable (some think it is; some think it is not), why would it be so horrible for homosexuality to be a choice? Why are many gay people and advocates of their rights so against some people believing that homosexuality is a choice?

If those who think sexuality is a choice are wrong, then they are wrong; but, if that belief is offensive to those who support gay culture, doesn't that imply that these supporters believe that choosing a same sex life is somehow not okay to do? Seems paradoxical to me; a purpose and a belief out of sync.

I once saw a video in which a gay man cleverly asked straight people to explain exactly when they chose to be straight. Of course, they couldn't answer, so he made his point. But...why?

If I were gay, I would think I would want to own it in every way. If it were my choice, I'd adopt a "you-gotta-problem-with-that?" stance; if it were not my choice, I'd act the same way, confident in my right to be who I am, whether by nature or nurture. (Or, I could choose, by the teachings of several religions, not to act on my impulses, which would be an acknowledgement of my belief in their immorality.)

In the red corner, Mendel.
I find it is usually the moral exhibitionists and "straight" seekers of pats on the back who fight tooth and nail for the non-choice nature of homosexuality. (I wonder if there are gay men and women out there who are offended by that.) I just can't help but wonder why they care either way. If one truly believe it is okay to be gay, nature vs. nurture or psychology vs. genetics should not matter. Could it be that some people who claim to be advocates for gay rights are really not as accepting as they say? Is it at all like a person who says something he thinks is supportive of African Americans but is really an indicator of his prejudice?

Of course, I do think that the idea of any sexuality being a "choice" is a vast oversimplification of one of the most complex parts of human nature. I never chose to be attracted to certain types of women or to be totally uninterested in others. It just happened, just as it happened that I truly knew I liked women the first time I saw Lindsay Wagner in The Bionic Woman as a boy. I didn't choose -- I just went, "Whoa..." and I was "in love." (Boy, did I have a crush oh her.)  But, if I had just chosen, one day, to like girls (or boys), would it have been wrong? -- offensive?

...something I needed to apologize for having done (or said)? We each have our own opinions. I just hope we all have the opinions we think we do.

AFTERTHOUGHT: I guess one defense for being supportive of the argument against sexual choice would be that, to establish homosexuality as either genetic or somehow inevitable, would be to remove the issue from the morality debate altogether. I guess that makes strategic sense.

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