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It is a Lifestyle Choice – are you pro – “choice”?

Though “sexual orientation” is 8 whole syllables, you’re not really allowed to call it a “lifestyle choice”. You’ve heard your gay or college-aged friends insist, “Being gay is not a lifestyle!”

Promo photo of Robin Leach

If I’d known it was a choice, I’d have chosen this one!

Heck, you may have heard me crow this when I thought you weren’t listening. But they (and I) were wrong.

Being actually gay-identified is a lifestyle choice. The question is: are you pro-“choice”?

Lifestyle

In brief defense of this strange non-lifestyle-choice claim, we note that Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous has everything to do with which cars, square footage, and designers these people can afford and nothing to do with actual love.

When you gasp, “honey, that’s way beyond our lifestyle” it doesn’t usually refer to a poolboy with a breathtaking wax job.

Photo of putative pool boy

Hey, get back to work! And no wine! (sixpack ok)

But let’s put this aside, as well as your doctor’s plea that to reduce your cardiac risk, you need to change your lifestyle (s/he is asking you to carry your own golf clubs, but not as a way to distract yourself  from keeping a homosexual spouse/partner/caddy). [update 5 July 2010: and yes, now you also need to lift your own luggage].

What is this whole “Lifestyle a Choice” thingy?

What Roy AshburnBob Allen, Maggie Gallagher, Glenn Murphy Jr., Exodus International, are talking about when they call being gay a lifestyle choice is the choice they, themselves, have made to take on the lifestyle trappings of heterosexuality – namely the well-worn expectation that you should marry, and bear children (as the outcome of passion or as scripture-sponsored task; doesn’t matter), and then receive support from your families and from the government in the way of money (in each paycheck and then social security) as well as passing in and out of your country’s borders; in the hospital; when renting cars, etc., you get the picture).

They call it a lifestyle choice, because these homosexual and bisexual folks have spent many years selecting “straight” as their lifestyle of choice. It is hard if you’re actually a homosexual, but you can do it. It doesn’t mean you’re heterosexual; you just live like one: “straight”. Don’t ask. Don’t tell.

And they deserve a lot of appreciation from you, if that’s what you’re into. They “just say no” to every promising opportunity to pursue healthy, honest, passion or love. The contortions they put their souls through to keep them heaven-ready demand LOTS of sacrifice and concentration.

Larry Craig Mugshot

(You can’t see his wide stance in this picture.)

And somehow refusing to follow love and lust, when they’re sad and sober, makes it okay to do so when they’re gay and drunk (or changing planes at certain airports).

Choice

Heterosexuality is a state of being, the one where, without effort, you do find deep, meaningful drive and satisfaction with romancing someone who is of an “opposite sex”, and really don’t have that capacity with someone of your own sex.

Being “straight-identified”, however, is a lifestyle choice, one that you’d be best to choose if you’re heterosexual. And you’d better choose if you’re in the (US) military [update 2012: you can serve your country now, and openly!, though your spouse and kids may be SOL. TBD]. Personally, I’m comfortable with your being  free to choose to live as a straight person to continue in your culture’s tradition of arranged marriage instead of a marriage of romantic origin, even if your heart and loins long for the gay option. It’s a choice, like being celibate is a choice.

Likewise, homosexuality is a state of being. You don’t get to choose being a homosexual; the choice is made for you. But you can choose a gay lifestyle if it will help you to feel good about your life. This “feeling good about your life as a gay person” won’t last all that long if you are not homosexual, but for some it’s worth a try. On the other hand, if you are homosexual, the choice is probably well-worth it; ask any gay person who’s gone through the harrowing adventure of living honestly and pursuing love as springs from their hearts.

Really you should be free to choose a heterosexual lifestyle if you’re a homosexual: American, Republican, politician or televangelist. I give the mightily mixed up Ted Haggard some strong kudos for stating openly that Christians shouldn’t stand in the way of equal health care for gays (or healthcare for anyone), while (still!) choosing to present as straight. But you and he and everyone should also be able to choose to live your internally realized truth, instead of an externally pressured one, and be a healthy, happy, gay-lifestyled homosexual.

photo of Roy Ashburn

Maybe homosexual, but does that photo say “gay”?

My problem with Roy Ashburn is not that he was a lying, hypocritical, coward – it’s that he used his political power to punish me for my choice to not be one. I don’t respect how he gained children, societal approval, and political success, but it doesn’t hurt me. It doesn’t hurt my children or my husband.

What does hurt us all was Roy Ashburn’s spittle-hurling excitement in public, exhorting his constituents to deny rights to gay citizens.

And regardless of the imminent divine forgiveness he’s about to begin bragging about, in this erstwhile heaven on earth we call California, he’s a lying jerk.

Yes, being gay may be a lifestyle choice. And this is America, where you and I are supposed to be free –  to live out our own choices.

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