There are things about being gay I’m very curious about. Things “gentle” people don’t ask of strangers. Like, who gets up to get the washcloth after sex, and who sleeps in the wet spot? How is that decided? In the straight world, at least the straight dating world before bedsides are assigned and power struggles are played out elsewhere, that’s the man’s job. She took him to the moon, he makes the trip to the bathroom. He puts the towel down and he better be damn happy to be doing it. Both parties generally know this without any discussion required. But how does a gay couple decide?
Of course that is the kind of question that only comes up in a group of close friends after the drink flowed all evening and the bartender has just made his second “last call” announcement, certainly not in a political blog no matter how generous and tolerant the editor. So let me ask you another of my burning “gay questions”, one that you may be more willing to discuss with a stranger from a strange land.
Why should it matter whether being gay is a choice or the random result of the way the DNA came together?
This week, as research for my weekly Thenewcivilrightsmovement.com feature On Our Radar; I watched an insightful documentary, Lead With Love, which gave advice to parents of gay children upon their coming out. I may have said that inartfully. “Their Coming Out” makes it sound like a Bar mitzvah or one of those debutante balls where the 1% release their children into the wilds of the country club. But coming out is that sort of passage isn’t it? Note this day. This is who I am, and going forward, this is who I am going to be.
Lead with Love was made by a psychologist studying the harm rejection can do to gay children. The very first point he seeks to drive home to parents is that people are born gay. It is not a choice. I have no quarrel with that as a statement of fact. I didn’t have to choose whether to have a crush on Joe Hardy or Nancy Drew. I just knew I liked boys from the fifth grade on. Why would I doubt other people have that same built-in self-knowledge?
I also understand the practical political reason to impress this “born gay” fact upon the gay-uneasy public. “I am what I am”, Popeye said. Or “I was born this way” according to Lady Gaga. But doesn’t making that argument ever cross into the feeling that being gay is a “defect” you’d cure if you could? So back to my question: Why should it matter?
The preamble to our Constitution has a truly lofty guarantee, the right to pursue happiness. What could be more fulfilling of that ideal than the right of any citizen to share their life with the person who makes them weak in the knees? A citizen of this country should not be “allowed” same-sex marriage because of a mix-up in their DNA. They should be allowed same-sex marriage because as Jefferson said about religious freedom “it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg”, and besides, it makes them happy. That is the essence of a free society; the right to choose happiness.
So, clueless-but-well-meaning-straight-lady to the gay community: I would like to know how it feels to you. Is it important to you the world accepts that people are born gay? Or do you ever feel, like me, it’s just outside the realm of what should be relevant? In America, “home of the free”, who someone chooses to love should fall outside the sphere of what “gentle” people should concern themselves with, just like who it is who gets up for that washcloth.