If you’re a member of the gay community, then you’ve heard this question at least once or twice in your lifetime: “Why did you choose to be gay?”
Everyone has a different answer to this question, as it can be an interesting subject at the family dinner table. Whether it's your local pastor, religious relatives or former high school teachers, everyone has a question regarding someone else's sexual orientation. Each individual has a different story, and this is mine.
After living in a world where my family, friends and co-workers accepted me for the heterosexual that I was — I just became so incredibly bored. At that point in my life, I had been able to safely use public restrooms, shop in any store of my choosing and eat at Chick-fil-A whenever I felt like it without any issues. I knew in my mind that in the future I would be able to easily adopt children, get a marriage license without some county clerk giving me a hard time, and live with my heterosexual partner without any discrimination based upon our sexual orientations. Life would truly be too easy. All of this just seemed too tedious — simple as that.
Knowing that I would never have to endure any type of hardships because of my sexual orientation was simply unacceptable. The idea that I could never attend a straight-pride parade? What about the fact that I couldn't relate to "The L Word"? Also, how come gay people receive all the credit for tearing religious establishments apart? I thought gay people were supposed to be inclusive, but I suppose not.
It was once I realized all of these unfortunate factors that I finally decided to be gay. You heard me. I chose to be gay.
Instantly — I hung up posters of Alex Vause around my room. I bought Lady Gaga’s latest album. I adopted a cat. I also began listening to Katy Perry's, "I Kissed A Girl" on repeat — just to make sure I was doing everything right. I called my religious family to tell them the news. Oddly enough, they did not react as I expected them to. They did not receive the information well. To them, this "lifestyle" was unacceptable. Just like the other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals who represent 40 percent of homeless youths, I was kicked out of my house for my sexual orientation and left homeless.
That didn’t matter because I still had my friends. With extreme excitement, I told all of my peers at school. However, it did not go so well because it turns out that my friends do not like gay people much either. Not only did they stop speaking to me, but they began calling me names behind my back. Just like four in 10 LGBT Americans (39 percent), I have been rejected by family and friends because of my sexual orientation. This is truly a terrible situation because I am left without any resources. Perhaps if my friends had not turned their backs on me, I would not have been physically assaulted just like the 44 percent of lesbians who experience rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to the 35 percent of heterosexual women. The oddest part of it all is that nothing about me has changed — except the fact that I am gay. All of this happened to me simply because of my sexual orientation.
It turns out that choosing to be gay was much harder than I thought. Not only would my government discriminate against me for my sexual orientation, but my family and friends did too. Being gay in such a hateful world is more painful than I could have ever imagined. With all of this information taken into consideration, it’s almost as if…
No one chooses to be gay.
Yes, you heard me correctly. No one chooses to be gay.
Now you know how stupid you sound when you say being gay is a choice.
While religious family members, local pastors, conservative celebrities and Republican politicians might believe that being gay is a choice — it is not. As a member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT+) community, I can promise you that no one would ever necessarily choose to be gay knowing what this world would force them to endure solely because of their sexuality.
We may have admirable popular icons such as Ellen Page, Sam Smith and Ruby Rose — but the violence we face as minorities every day is completely real.
Just like other gay and lesbian individuals, I did not choose to be gay. It's almost as if no one chooses their sexual orientation. I did not wake up one morning and decide to be treated as a second-class citizen by my government. I did not develop a desire to be ridiculed, bullied, and called an abomination by my friends and family simply because of my sexual orientation. In the United States, out of the almost 6,000 hate crimes committed in 2013, 20 percent (approximately 1,200) were based on victims’ sexual orientation. I did not decide one day that I wanted to be murdered for my sexual orientation. Lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. College student Matthew Shepard did not choose to be gay, just as he did not choose to be murdered for it. Fourteen-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer did not choose to be gay, just as he did not choose to be bullied for his sexual orientation — which eventually led to his suicide in 2011.
I did not choose to be attracted to the same sex. I did not choose to make my life harder. I did not choose to have to fight for equal rights for as long as I shall live. I did not choose this. But this is who I am — and you will respect me regardless.
I am gay, and I was born this way — just like the 8 million adults in America who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual. Sexual orientation is not, nor has it ever been, a choice. We did not choose to be gay. We were born this way. We exist, we cannot be changed, we are not going anywhere, we are happy with ourselves, and we are proud of who we are. We are here to stay, and we are here to fight back. The cruel words of few are nothing to the shouts of many.