If I Had the Choice, I Would Choose to Be Gay
Once in a while, an annoying Twitter user will suggest to me that being gay is a choice and that I’m going to hell for choosing to be gay. This accusation usually comes from conservative white women on one of those Christian mom blogs or from a white male pastor whose Twitter bio says something like, “Husband, father, Jesus lover.”
These internet strangers never actually cause me to feel shame for being gay because I’ve heard it all before from mentors, peers, and of course, my occasional interaction with conservative social media. The only thing these interactions really cause me to do is to reflect on the question of choice when it comes to sexual orientation.
“If you could choose, would you choose to be gay?”
More and more, I’m finding my answer to be “yes.” If I had the choice, knowing everything I know at this point, I would absolutely choose to be gay.
Struggling with Sexuality
Being gay is not difficult because of some inherent struggle that afflicts gay people and bypasses the lives of straight people, but because the society we live in makes it difficult to be gay.
The most difficult part about living as a gay man is the harassment I experienced as a child, as a teenager, and still as an adult. I hate how hard it is to find a solid church. I hate how high the suicide rates are for LGBTQ youth. I hate having to worry about if someone’s ignorance towards me is going to turn into violence, and even more, I hate worrying for the safety and security of my friends.
All of those struggles are legitimate, but all of those struggles are extrinsic.
Of course I have internal struggles that are tied to my sexuality, but those don’t come from a queer orientation. They tend to be more broad, general human fears and difficulties like the question of companionship, relationships, and navigating sexual desires in healthy communities. Straight people wrestle through these questions just as much as queer people do, so these aren’t really “gay” problems- they’re human problems.
Family, Friendship, and Legacy
Being gay has not given me an experience that is somehow “lesser” or “undesirable.” In fact, being gay has enriched my life in ways that most of the world seems to overlook.
As RuPaul proclaimed in an iconic moment of RuPaul’s Drag Race, “We as gay people get to choose our family.” This past year, I have felt that so deeply in my soul.
I have queer friends who I have known for less than a year who are yet more intimately involved in my life than many I’ve been friends with for nearly a decade. Friends who have recently come out to me have quickly become siblings that I keep close to my heart wherever I go. Together, we all have a shared experience and mutual understanding that can bridge gaps between otherwise differing backgrounds. This chosen queer family has been there for me in tangible ways, answering late night phone calls, helping me fund a trip to see my best friend, and caring for me when no one else seemed to be available. Some of the best people I know have met me simply because we’re queer.
Queer people are better equipped for friendship and hospitality because we know what it is to be rejected- but more than that, we have learned to appreciate the beauty and to desire connection with members of the same sex.
My straight best friend and I have joked about this before, but our friendship would not be what is if I were straight. He and I share an intimate bond that feels functionally different than any other relationship I have ever had. Neither of us think this kind of relationship would be realistic if I were straight. Most straight people live with the assumption that relational fulfillment comes from significant others and immediate family, whereas LGBTQ+ people grow to understand that relational fulfillment comes from a wealth of relationships including close friendships and chosen family.
Additionally, as a gay person, I take part in the legacy of incredible LGBTQ+ people who have transformed the world around them for the better. I share history with brave and caring souls who made ways for LGBTQ+ people today and who continue to make it possible for sexual and gender minorities to be unapologetically themselves, to seek community, love, and solidarity with people who are similar to them. By becoming a sanctuary for those who need it, I am able to carry on this legacy in small ways, offering the queerest of listening ears and caring shoulders to cry on.
At this point, I wouldn’t trade my queerness for anything because it is an integral and important piece of my story. I am proud to be gay. I am glad for the perspective it gives me. The difficulty that comes with the territory is not in simply being gay, but in getting the rest of the world to treat all people with dignity, love, and respect.
Ultimately, that is out of my hands. All I can do is continue to live visibly and to allow that to be a teacher.