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December 6, 2010 3:58 PM   Subscribe

When did you choose to be straight?
posted by boo_radley (138 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've often thought that much would improve in the world if people just practiced the golden rule. This video is a lovely example of why. Thanks boo!

(also eponysterical in that Boo Radley was a closeted character, no?)
posted by salishsea at 4:03 PM on December 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Man people are so willing to blindly spout talking points that support their opinion without any thought.
posted by graventy at 4:04 PM on December 6, 2010


When I saw Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman on TV.

(That's when I realized i liked girls, thus rendering me straight. Choice dosen't actually enter into this)
posted by jonmc at 4:04 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I honestly don't understand why that doesn't end the debate more often. Also, I had a homophobic friend in highschool (who later came out as bi, putting more weight to that theory) who was worried about gay guys hitting on him till I asked him how many straight girls had hit on him.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 4:04 PM on December 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


Oh, I forgot the attribution: This is via mathowie.
posted by boo_radley at 4:05 PM on December 6, 2010


Silentgoldfish: Harsh!
posted by djfiander at 4:09 PM on December 6, 2010


Wow, people really don't think. I wonder what they use their brains for.
posted by Maias at 4:09 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know when I chose to be straight, but it was definitely confirmed upon seeing Bernadette Peters for the first time.

Bernadette, thank you. My proposal still stands, always will.
posted by Capt. Renault at 4:11 PM on December 6, 2010 [19 favorites]


Ahh, the glory of seeing people really, really think for the first time in their lives.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:11 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it was probably when I found myself one morning filled with rage and murderous thoughts directed at my father and overcome with urges to mate with my mother - so, like, 4?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 4:13 PM on December 6, 2010 [48 favorites]


Yeah, I can't believe how many people haven't made it through this simple thought experiment.
posted by LordSludge at 4:13 PM on December 6, 2010


It is a choice I make every day when I get up in the morning, to live my life in a Godly fashion and resist the temptations of this deliciously decadent lifestyle.
posted by kafziel at 4:13 PM on December 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


Seriously, it is amazing to see that that simple question changed what some people had believed for decades...in a matter of seconds.
posted by kozad at 4:17 PM on December 6, 2010


Seriously, it is amazing to see that that simple question changed what some people had believed for decades...in a matter of seconds.

Wouldn't make a bad commercial for the next marriage amendment. Cheap, effective, and makes its point without being overly angry or moralistic. Uber-win!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 4:18 PM on December 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


1977, boys locker room after that first swimming session.
posted by nomadicink at 4:21 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Batgirl.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 4:23 PM on December 6, 2010 [10 favorites]


God makes me gay on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and the Devil makes me straight on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

posted by poe at 4:23 PM on December 6, 2010


Logic muthafukkers!
posted by dougrayrankin at 4:24 PM on December 6, 2010


I get it, but homophobes' argument isn't "everyone makes a decision to be gay or straight." It's "straight is the norm and gays have chosen to deviate from the norm," as if they could change their minds or lose interest and come back into the fold. Like joining a cult.
posted by bgrebs at 4:25 PM on December 6, 2010 [15 favorites]


There are also lots of people who argue that while you might be born gay, you make a choice to act on it, and that is bad.
posted by rtha at 4:28 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Capt. Renault: "I don't know when I chose to be straight, but it was definitely confirmed upon seeing Bernadette Peters for the first time. "

Similarly, Bernadette Peters is why I remain sexually attracted to cornets. It's a funny old world, isn't it?

Also, the phrase that will save humanity is, "Huh. That's a good point."
posted by stet at 4:29 PM on December 6, 2010 [11 favorites]


So, I stopped watching after a few a examples. I was turned off by the fact that the interviewer insisted on asking that question of people who said (essentially) "Well, it's not a choice, but rather a combination of genetics and environmental effects." (which by the way is the explanation for lot's of things, like height, weight, alcoholism, etc., etc.)

They already agree that gay men and women don't actually choose to be that way. So, what's the problem?
posted by oddman at 4:29 PM on December 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


Several people say something pretty reasoned (that they aren't sure if sexuality is inborn, and it probably isn't a choice, but could have to do with your development or personal history).

It's possible that sexuality comes from a combination of environment and genetics (with different proportions of each for different people). The idea that it's either inborn or a choice is a false dichotomy.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 4:30 PM on December 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


I remember watching the Winter Olympics with a friend of mine - we were about 12 - 13. He was all about the choreography in the women's figure skating, I was all about the legs and asses. I got a vague notion that we were wired slightly different.
posted by Ber at 4:30 PM on December 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


Even if being gay were a choice, it shouldn't deprive those who make it of basic human and civil rights. Using the "born-that-way" argument in a defense of homosexuality has always seemed to me to obliquely imply that had it been a choice, we could reevaluate our extension of rights to these individuals. As if we have recognized the sin of homosexuality, but graciously pardoned those whose choice it wasn't to commit. This is stupid.
posted by Dia Nomou Nomo Apethanon at 4:31 PM on December 6, 2010 [85 favorites]


My own upbringing was very bigoted when it came to sexuality, my mother is unlikely to say anything bad about anyone until promiscuity comes into the picture, and she had a definite attitude about gay men and promiscuity. More an issue of thinned lips and weighty pauses than hate speech, but it made an impression when I was growing up. That and the general Pennsylvania social conservatism made me think it must be wrong (and a choice). My aha moment was that I was inculcated with the idea that homosexuality was unnatural, and the discovery in my early teens that it frequently does occur in nature made me re-examine some of the assumptions of a lifetime.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:32 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Dia Nomou Nomo Apethanon, yeah there is also a growing movement in socially conservative circles to talk about biological causes and cures now; which is more than a bit disturbing.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:33 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I found that clip pleasant to watch, but mostly because the people selected to be in it were pretty reasonable and moderate. This tactic would not work on people who had a strong anti-gay stance. Someone who had really staked out their turf on this issue would probably point out that the fact he/she didn't choose to be straight supports his/her argument: "I didn't HAVE to choose to be straight, because it's normal/the default/the way God intended; therefore, gays MUST have chosen NOT to be straight." Taken this way, it actually strengthens the characterization of homosexuality as a conscious, deviant choice.

Oh, if only everyone was so malleable on this issue...!
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 4:33 PM on December 6, 2010 [7 favorites]


Yvonne Craig
posted by Thorzdad at 4:35 PM on December 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I would tend to disagree on one level, Dia Nomou Nomo Apethanon: The conversation here (I am not too far away from Colorado Springs) is one of homosexuality-as-choice as a doctrinal matter. Coming up with challenges against that position is a practical exercise for engagement and conversion.

I do agree with you -- strongly -- that choice or not, all people should have basic human and civil rights.
posted by boo_radley at 4:38 PM on December 6, 2010


boo_radley: "When did you choose to be straight? "

Some people would say they chose to be straight from this (I think it's bullshit; you are who you are).

Life would be a lot easier if people would quit trying to force their point of view on everyone else.
posted by bwg at 4:44 PM on December 6, 2010


Because I am a big nerd I might respond with "how do you define choice?"

I'm interested in both genders, but I'm turned off by lots of other things. Some of those turn offs seem like something I could change, others seem hard wired.

An act that is a product of your genetics or experiences is still an act you are responsible for.

I do not think any of the laws in my country should be based on some notion of sin. Preventing harm to others is the metric I go by, for the most part.

Big nerds never get quoted in 'man on the street' interviews, though.
posted by poe at 4:45 PM on December 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's interesting how many people go, "Oh...you probably have a good point there..."

Maybe making this type of argument part of more education about homosexuality would be a good idea.


...but at the same time I feel like nature v. nurture should be irrelevant, if it is a choice they should be able to make that choice if they want.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:47 PM on December 6, 2010


Why can't gay or straight also be a choice? Wouldn't that be a real indicator that the world is a healthy place -- if people felt equally free to choose a same-sex or opposite-sex partner?
posted by grounded at 4:50 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Christie.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:50 PM on December 6, 2010


Yeah there is also a growing movement in socially conservative circles to talk about biological causes and cures now; which is more than a bit disturbing.


Yes, the "we don't choose our sexual orientation" argument isn't going to win over committed homophobes because they'll just decide homosexuality is caused by a birth defect, or demon possession, or gay rays from Alpha Centauri . . . doesn't much matter, just as long as it's something very, very bad.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:51 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Bailey Quarters.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:53 PM on December 6, 2010 [12 favorites]


This tactic would not work on people who had a strong anti-gay stance. Someone who had really staked out their turf on this issue would probably point out that the fact he/she didn't choose to be straight supports his/her argument: "I didn't HAVE to choose to be straight, because it's normal/the default/the way God intended; therefore, gays MUST have chosen NOT to be straight." Taken this way, it actually strengthens the characterization of homosexuality as a conscious, deviant choice.

"So, if you chose to, you could become sexually aroused by a man?"

I don't buy the talk that all homophobes are closeted gays...but the type who talk about gay sex like a forbidden fruit like drinking too much or having an affair...a natural urge for pleasure that you have to use discipline to resist...really likely to be closeted gays.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:54 PM on December 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think it was probably when I found myself one morning filled with rage and murderous thoughts directed at my father and overcome with urges to mate with my mother

"Puberty may bring you to understand what we take for mother love is really murderous hatred and a desire for revenge." -- David Milch
posted by dobbs at 4:55 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it's pretty clear that when people say something like "he chooses to be gay" what they mean is that the person in question has chosen to be true to himself instead of pretending to be straight as he is, apparently, supposed to do. So a straight person never chooses to be straight, only gay people are supposed to do that. Or something. I'm probably not making any sense, perhaps by choice.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 4:56 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


If sexuality was a choice, it would be the easiest thing in the world to prove. All you'd have to do is decide to become gay.
posted by dudekiller at 4:57 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I saw Sting dressed like this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:59 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why can't gay or straight also be a choice? Wouldn't that be a real indicator that the world is a healthy place -- if people felt equally free to choose a same-sex or opposite-sex partner?

It's an area with a lot of confusion. I like redheads more than blondes, they make me think dirty thoughts. Could I chose to like a blonde more? Well, I mean, I didn't make a conscious decision it just happens...

Does anyone consciously CHOSE to fall in love with someone? Maybe that would be a good question to ask people on camera instead of gay or straight, "When did you chose to fall in love with your husband?"
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:59 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: "When I saw Sting dressed like this. "

Funny, I chose to be straight when I saw that too.

Kidding.
posted by bwg at 5:01 PM on December 6, 2010


And when did I choose to be bad at spelling?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:02 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have female friends who are so close that we regularly said to each other, after one of those great conversations where you stay up way past midnight because you've having such a good time laughing and tossing ideas back and forth and discovering new things about each other and ourselves, "Too bad we're not gay." "If only you were a guy." (Actually, one of them came out later as bi.) The quest for a long-term partner would have been over instantly. I checked out lesbian porn to see if it was really truly definitely impossible to turn myself gay, or at least bi. No dice.

Hasn't Kinsey's sexual continuum scale been generally accepted among legitimate researchers?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:06 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


"So, if you chose to, you could become sexually aroused by a man?"

Totally agree with the comment about closeted people and portraying gay sex as this forbidden fruit. It's almost the same way I might talk about a coworker who skips work to go drink at the beach; envy thinly veiled as moralizing.

Still though, this "choosing to be straight" thing is really kind of a straw man. Just because your average man on the street couldn't choose to get aroused by another man doesn't mean that nobody else could. Since the whole anti-gay agenda is predicated on "othering" gay people, there's nothing incoherent about them thinking, "I wouldn't choose to sleep with a dude, but that's because I'm not one of THEM."

I think the "choosing to be gay" issue is ultimately something people accept on faith, and not all that susceptible to logic.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 5:12 PM on December 6, 2010


Hmm...Linda Carter, Erin Gray, Ornella Muti, and then Carrie Fisher. Pretty much in that order around the early 80s. Any wonder why I'm also a big sci-fi nerd as well?
posted by snwod at 5:14 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I agree with furiousxgeorge. Some just don't understand because they are close-minded and choose to believe a limited viewpoint. There is a more openminded view for us than against us (the Bible thumpers) which are often fueled by organizations like some of those on SPLC's hate list.

At the least what I can ask if you are a Bible thumper, don't follow those who are on SPLC's hate list's bullshit. All it does is further hate and is false science.
posted by antgly at 5:16 PM on December 6, 2010


Also, what's it mean to "choose" to be anything? I'd like to choose to be a better student right now but I'm reading Metafilter instead. But I don't believe I'm genetically predisposed to be a bad student, or incapable of making the choice. It's just... easier to read Metafilter.

So the fact that I can't, on a whim, choose to be gay, like, RIGHT NOW doesn't really prove that it isn't a choice someone could make.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 5:21 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I can't believe how many people haven't made it through this simple thought experiment.

I come from the other side. I can't believe how many people find this thought experiment convincing. Opposition to or support of same-sex attraction is independent from belief that same-sex attraction is a choice or not.

People who think same-sex attraction is evil can, perfectly consistently, believe that it is a matter of biological destiny. It's not even an unusual position--"Oh, I believe some people are just born with same-sex attractions, but I also believe it's wrong to act on those attractions. We all have our crosses to bear."

Similarly, people who think that there's nothing at all wrong about same-sex attraction can, perfectly consistently, believe that it is a choice. This can come from an empirical argument that the ability to learn or unlearn to like something varies across the population or from a more philosophical argument about Compatibilism.

The second set of folks are more hypothetical these days, but in either case, we wouldn't expect either set's views about the moral permissibility of same-sex attraction to change if they learned it was or wasn't a choice. I think that there is something very, very wrong with a person who supports LGBT issues but would become an opponent should reliable scientific evidence against choice ever come to light. And I wouldn't trust anyone as an ally if they said, "I'd think this is worthy of prohibition, but since I've learned you have no choice in the matter..."

Then of course, there's the problem with bisexuality. Whether bisexuality itself is a choice, the homophobes only care that it is possible to be happy in a monogamous sexual relationship with a member of the opposite sex like God intended. By the same token, no small number of lesbians and gays (including Dan Savage) consider this same possibility to impeach bisexuals' status as real members of the community, make bisexuals untrustworthy or traitors to the community, or make acknowledging bisexuals' existence a dangerous rhetorical liability. (Notice that "the community" isn't "the LGBT community.")

Obviously, I've never had any affection for the choice argument. In addition to the earlier complaints, I find it turns into self-hating "Do you think I would choose to be this way?!" stuff pretty quickly. I much prefer to say that there's nothing wrong with being queer, full stop, and anybody who needs to condition agreement on helplessness in the face of biological determinism can jump in a lake.
posted by Marty Marx at 5:21 PM on December 6, 2010 [23 favorites]


Of course no one would choose to be gay. Being gay is awful! Why would anybody choose that?
posted by koeselitz at 5:23 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ben Affleck.

What? I was seven!
posted by elsietheeel at 5:24 PM on December 6, 2010


I sleep with more men then women, and if we were talking about genetics, i would be most likely gay--but i have slept with women, and people who were other in their gender presentation. I slept with them for lots of reasons, because i found them funny, or witty, or difficult, or attractive--because i liked their aesthetic, or politic, or the way they smelt, or because I was lonely and they were lonely, or because they made me happy.

When I first slept with a woman, it came into my head, that i didnt have to choose, that i was free to make love to any one i wanted to. I fundamentally believe at that point, i made a choice, to be queer instead of gay, to treat my sexuality as a sense of adventure, as a set of political or social or aesthetic choices as opposed to a solid identity. it affected deeply how i constructed family, how i worked my life around.

I think one of the ways the world is heading, is this belief in a strong biological essentalism--that biology exists for everyone, that biology is the only reason why someone has sex with someone, and that biology is unbreachable.

One of the great things about being human, is that if we are lucky, we have an inborn sense of adventure. Sometimes this sense of adventure gets us in trouble, and sometimes this sense of adventure is unethical--but I can choose to sleep with who i choose to sleep with, I can remember that wanting to fuck boys at 12 didnt mean that when i was 20 i couldn't fuck girls.

we knew this in the 70s and 80s, i wonder what happened?
posted by PinkMoose at 5:25 PM on December 6, 2010 [20 favorites]


When I saw Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman on TV.

That had the exact opposite effect on me. Neato.
posted by elizardbits at 5:29 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Note to self: It is often okay to follow links to YouTube from Metafilter. It is NEVER OKAY TO READ THE COMMENTS ONCE YOU ARRIVE AT THE VIDEO.

If it were remotely worth it, I'd respond to a few of those comments with "When did you choose to be a complete shitbird?"
posted by tzikeh at 5:31 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Whilst watching a "Matt Helm" movie on TV when I was about 11 or 12 and got SUCH a chubby when he used this remote control thingamajig to undress some hot chick.
posted by briank at 5:31 PM on December 6, 2010


The people in this thread who are saying that it doesn't matter whether it's a choice or not, that it should be universally accepted regardless, are correct.

But if this "a-ha!" tactic can bring some moderates to our side of the ballot box, then I don't really care how the west was won.
posted by mreleganza at 5:33 PM on December 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


In addition to the earlier complaints, I find it turns into self-hating "Do you think I would choose to be this way?!" stuff pretty quickly. I much prefer to say that there's nothing wrong with being queer, full stop, and anybody who needs to condition agreement on helplessness in the face of biological determinism can jump in a lake.

I take issue with the notion that the "Do you think I would choose to be this way?" response is automatically a sign of self-hatred. I am perfectly content with who I am as a gay man. At the same time I realize and am daily aware that there would be hundreds of options and rights available to me with the "choice" of heterosexuality that simply are not available to me as a gay person, not to mention the ever-looming threat of what few rights I do have being taken away in a single legislative moment because the Christian right believes that what I am doing is actively choosing to hate and defy God by being who I am.

So, no, in that sense (apart from the pain and fear and anxiety I was faced with as a gay person growing up in a different time), I would not have chosen to be this way. It would have been a much more straightforward (pun intended) life the other way. That's not self-hatred, that's plain fact.
posted by blucevalo at 5:37 PM on December 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


Similarly, Bernadette Peters is why I remain sexually attracted to cornets .

omg I just chose to be straight again jesus that's sexy
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:42 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know why people are straight or gay or bisexual. I don't know if it's a choice. I tend to assume it isn't a choice. But maybe I'm wrong and there is some element of choice.

So what? As others have said, this debate has no obvious policy implications.

For instance, I believe (and I assume all of us Mefites believe) that homosexuality is a fine and good thing, for the same basic reasons I think heterosexuality is a fine and good thing: it makes people happy, it creates strong social bonds, etc. I'm going to keep thinking this no matter what evidence I see about why people become gay or straight or bi. Likewise, someone who believes that homosexuality poses a grave threat to civilization will probably continue to feel this way no matter what any study says about what causes sexual orientation.

Or let's look at one kind of sexuality we can all agree is bad: pedophilia. Is there any sense in which pedophiles choose to have that preference, or is it purely genetic/environmental? I don't know, and I don't care. All I need to know is that it hurts people; that's why I have no interest in protecting pedophiles' rights to act on their sexuality. I don't care about the cause; I care about the consequences.
posted by John Cohen at 5:43 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't be so picky.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 5:43 PM on December 6, 2010


In addition to the earlier complaints, I find it turns into self-hating "Do you think I would choose to be this way?!" stuff pretty quickly. I much prefer to say that there's nothing wrong with being queer, full stop, and anybody who needs to condition agreement on helplessness in the face of biological determinism can jump in a lake.

That statement isn't saying there is anything wrong with being gay, just that there is something wrong with how our society treats gay people. Whenever I hear it I add an implied..."but of course I would rather just be who I am and have society not give a shit about who I have sex with..."
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:48 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Chrissie

Specifically that song.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:48 PM on December 6, 2010


Yvonne Craig was vey gracious at Dragon-Con several years ago when I told her I knew I liked girls at age five after seeing her portrayal of Batgirl. I imagine she gets that a lot.
posted by Scoo at 6:07 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or let's look at one kind of sexuality we can all agree is bad: pedophilia.

Technically it's not the pedophilia that's the bad thing - it's acting on it. Pedophiles have the same rights that any other sexual hobbyists have; it's just that assault and rape and sex with a person below the age of consent are not among those. They're perfectly within their rights to be aroused by it, though.
posted by LSK at 6:09 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


The flipside of this is religion.

The appeal of sexuality as a genetic / unchosen characteristic is that it "absolves" the person of fault. To see sexuality as akin to race in immutability means you can't "blame" a person for that trait. Without choice or blame, then, there effectively is no free will and thus no "sin" (for those who are so inclined to see it that way).

But as some comments have noted, this mechanic of "when did you choose" is insulting, just as it would be insulting to say "no one would ever choose to be black" and imply that being black was somehow less desirable, worthy, etc.

So let's point to a protected class that is largely a matter of choice: religion. I think its fairly uncontroversial that generally, one chooses their religion in the active sense of the word (insert applicable caveats about being born into cults, being insulated in a religious enclave, the somewhat mixed issue of people being culturally vs. religiously Jewish, etc). Certainly, being religiously Jewish is not an immutable trait in the sense that being racially Korean is. Indeed, the choice of a religion is often considered a desirable quality within the religion, such as George W. Bush being a "born-again Christian" or Obama converting to Christianity.

Yet there doesn't seem to be any difficulty defending religion as a protected class, even for minority religions. Muslims may be widely disfavored in the U.S., but I think the mainstream populace would balk at stripping rights, including the right to marry, from Muslims or Buddhists or the Amish. So why shouldn't it be viewed through this prism, rather than try and analogize it through race. I understand it might be easier that way, but that doesn't mean that, should sexuality somehow in fact be a volitional act, that it isn't deserving of the fundamental rights we accord other groups.
posted by shen1138 at 6:09 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


What I like most about that video is the way perfectly reasonable people are asked in a non-confrontational way to think a little more deeply about their views. And most seem to.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 6:11 PM on December 6, 2010


The appeal of sexuality as a genetic / unchosen characteristic is that it "absolves" the person of fault.

Not if you see things through the lens of original sin.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:11 PM on December 6, 2010


Seriously? No one else has given this for their answer?

One day you're flipping baseball cards and the next day you're staring, just staring, at Jaclyn Smith. And you can't look away, and you don't know why you can't look away, but dear lord you know that you can-not look away. And that's years before you even figure out what the hell is going on.

We don't choose our sexuality. Our sexuality chooses us.
posted by PlusDistance at 6:27 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Similarly, Bernadette Peters is why I remain sexually attracted to cornets . It's a funny old world, isn't it?

Stet, I'll see your cornet, and raise you Bernadette bouncing on [your] lap.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:38 PM on December 6, 2010


There are men who have sex with men who do not identify as "gay". That word "gay" can refer to a particular lifestyle, just as the word "straight" can refer to a person who plays by the rules.

Homophobes are often rather simple-minded, meaning they're prone to confuse the various meanings of words. They're likely to be under the impression that homosexuality leads to excess, because they only ever hear about the gay community when someone in it does something excessive. I'm a rather cautious person myself; I would question the wisdom of abstaining from homosexuality because you think it leads to excess, but I understand the motive.

When you're talking to a person who gets words confused in this way, asking "When did you choose to be straight?" is ineffective, because they choose to be straight every time they show up to work on time, pay the bills on time, and help their kids with their homework. They think heterosexuality is just part of that package.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:46 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is a good point. At least for those of us that have thought it through. The real problem is the people who refuse to think about it. Sadly religious faith replaces rational thought for many people with anti-gay sentiments. I would be interested to see the reactions of fundamentalists viewing this video a la "2 girls 1 cup." Those videos and opinions would probably be very different.
posted by pickinganameismuchharderthanihadanticipated at 6:48 PM on December 6, 2010


As for the "choice" argument, I think there are some people who can choose their sexuality. There is this new label called pansexuality for people who are indifferent to gender, as opposed to bisexuals, who often have "moods" for one gender or another. If a pansexual chooses to stick to the opposite gender, then, they'll never notice the difference between their sex life and a heterosexual one; at that point, calling themselves pansexual would give entirely the wrong impression.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:50 PM on December 6, 2010


A write-up.
posted by oddman at 6:53 PM on December 6, 2010


Whenever I hear it I add an implied..."but of course I would rather just be who I am and have society not give a shit about who I have sex with..."

I don't hear this. If I did, I'd agree that it isn't self-hating, but rather a complaint about oppressive social conditions, as bluecevalo says. I'll grant that if pressed, most people who say, "Do you think I'd choose to be this way?" would probably say that yes, of course, objecting to social conditions is what they meant all along.

I still don't like it, and I still think it's self hating. I still don't like it because "Do you think I'd choose to be this way?" is a rhetorical trick that only works for Kinsey 6s, but I've harped on that enough. I still think it's self-hating because of the way the complaint is set up: the oppressive social conditions are taken as an unspoken given, and the speaker's personal identity is subject to change. Since we're talking about hypotheticals, why choose one that takes social conditions as a given to object to those social conditions? Moreover, "Do you think I'd choose for society to be set up this way?" isn't really responsive to someone challenging the legitimacy of homosexuality in the way "Do you think I'd choose to be this way?" is.

That said, I'm not trying to start a more-self-affirming-than-thou throwdown. The problem here are the homophobes who push the hatred in the first place; everyone else gets stuck with trying to reject all that nonsense that is, sadly, pervasive.
posted by Marty Marx at 6:54 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Probably when I decided I should marry my cute cousin Jeff at age 5 (too bad for me he was 14 and refused my proposition).

But Johnny Depp really sealed the deal.
posted by emjaybee at 6:56 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pet peeve: The Kinsey scale measures sexual history, not sexual preference. A deeply closeted gay male who's only had sex with women has the same "Kinsey score" as the straightest dude who ever, uh, heteroed. I'm all for viewing human sexuality as a spectrum, but the Kinsey scale ain't it.

That said, if there were a corresponding scale for inclination, I'd be smack dab in the middle of it. The whole idea of "choosing" a preferred gender, in either direction, is completely foreign to me; in my youth, I was as pleasantly bewildered by Julie Warner in Doc Hollywood as I was by Brad Pitt in Thelma and Louise.

If I didn't believe so strongly that orientation was indeed innate, I'd be utterly bewildered that so many people discard a full half of the population of totally gorgeous people on Earth. Sure, I have my preferences and types and whatever, and I'm not one of those obnoxious "durrr, everybody's naturally bisexual" tools, but I just don't get it.

Of course, the thing is, I don't have to, because it's none of my goddamned business.
posted by Zozo at 7:04 PM on December 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Somehow I missed LogicalDash's mention of pansexuality, which somehow managed to completely mischaracterize the "moods" of people who identify as bisexual and the "choices" of people who identify as pan-.

It's right in the linked Wiki article: bisexual means "attracted to men and women." Pansexual means "attracted regardless of gender," and since Gender (everyone say it with me now) Is A Spectrum, that means a hypothetical pansexual dude/ette might have the hots for an androgynous/genderqueer/otherwise not-quite-binary person, whereas a hypothetical bisexual fella/lady might prefer to stick to the Big Two.

If pressed, I'd identify as the delightfully vague "queer," but if we're getting all prescriptive, I'd say pansexual comes close to describing my day-to-day inner workings. I married a woman; that absolutely does not mean I don't get my head turned once in a while by a good-looking man, just like straight men and lesbians aren't suddenly blind to attractive women once they're in a relationship.
posted by Zozo at 7:11 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gay Scientists Isolate Christian Gene
posted by ovvl at 7:12 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm not completely sure I've "chosen" yet.
posted by Miko at 7:17 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Uh, when I saw Jennifer Connelly in the trailer for the film Career Opportunities? TMI?
posted by joe lisboa at 7:25 PM on December 6, 2010


The issue is really much more complicated than is presented in the video.

Do I remember when I chose to be gay? No. But I do remember deciding that I was gay. I also remember the five preceding years where I gave other boys blowjobs. I cam out gay.

Seven year olds in the Samba tribe start giving blow jobs to men in order to ingest their semen. Some of them come out as the uber-manly men the tribe idealizes.

We live in a world where desires and identities never really match up. So yes, it is nature and nurture and I am not a homophobe for thinking so.
posted by munchingzombie at 7:30 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Plenty of boys and girls in the US have homosexual experiences and end up gay or end up straight. I agree, it's not so linear. The issue is bigotry, not a litmus test for sexuality with a binary result.
posted by Miko at 7:33 PM on December 6, 2010


I think it's a great question. Although, as noted in the comments here, there are some subtleties to the issue, it is inherently a very humanizing question. It causes the subject to consider their own sexuality in a way that helps them understand homosexuality in a very personal, visceral way.
posted by snofoam at 7:44 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is a distraction. Why would it matter if it is a choice or not? If someone chooses to be gay, should that make them subject to discrimination or bullying?
posted by cman at 7:44 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


They end up gay or straight or anywhere in between. A linear scale probably isn't enough if we're still trying to chart sexuality. I agree, this shouldn't be a litmus test.

Can I just say this is exactly why I love MetaFilter? This video has been bothering me since I saw it, and many of you have articulated it better than I ever could.
posted by yaymukund at 7:44 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have many times been accused of being a latent heterosexual. This does not bother me.
posted by yesster at 8:05 PM on December 6, 2010


But if this "a-ha!" tactic can bring some moderates to our side of the ballot box, then I don't really care how the west was won.

I don't know. There's got to be something said about not using shitty arguments for the sake of not using shitty arguments. I certainly can't accept it when people I disagree with do it.
posted by floam at 8:19 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


poe wrote: "Big nerds never get quoted in 'man on the street' interviews, though."

Sure they do. In the first grade, a local TV station came around asking us what our favorite PBS show was. My classmates answered "Sesame Street!" My answer? "The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour"

Made it on TV, too! Of course, my favorite activity in first grade was reading books aloud to the class. Looking back, I can only imagine my teacher was happy not to be the one to have to do the reading.
posted by wierdo at 8:23 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


FWIW, I don't think Christians view their anti-gay attitudes or legislation as bigotry. To play Devil's Advocate**, here's how I've heard it explained:

Humans are sinful by nature. Homosexual sex is one form of sinfulness. Although it may be human nature to be homosexual, as long as you don't act on it then you haven't actually sinned. And even if you have sinned, you can accept Jesus into your heart, be washed free of sin, and go to heaven -- but NOT NOT NOT if you continue to have gay sex, as that implies that you don't, in fact, have Jesus in your heart because you refuse to stop sinning. So, very simply: Gay sex = you go to hell.

So by passing anti-gay legislation, by sending gay teenagers to be "reprogrammed" or "cured", etc., these Christians are saving otherwise gay people from themselves. It's "tough love", sure, but it's what's best for gays in the long run. After all, if you were doing something that would lead to your eternal demise, wouldn't you want somebody to step in?

** Please note that I think this whole argument is infuriating bullshit. Now I'm anti-religious and gay-friendly/tolerant/why-is-that-possibly-my-business, but my entire family (I'm single, no kids, but I mean siblings/parents) is deeply religious, like born-again Christian-style, and the above argument is their basic viewpoint. As a straight guy, I don't have a dog in this fight, but I do feel ethically bound to do what I can to foster a fair society where people are free to live and love however they want. (Basically. I don't have a solid Mission Statement or anything.) The "tough love" reasoning is infuriating to me, because it warps the Golden Rule from "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." into "Do unto others what you think is best for them."

Derail, but here's where I struggle in this situation: I believe that religion -- Christianity, in particular -- warps a person's priorities into living for a promised, but illusory, reward in the afterlife, as opposed to living actual life to its fullest. As such, I think Christianity in effect hurts them and makes their lives less fulfilling. By their own logic on the gay issue, then, I should be doing everything possible to turn them from religion, and to deprogram their kids of the brainwashing they've had pretty much since birth. And I'm pretty sure I could "cure" at least one or two of them.

But that would be a huge asshole move, as it would ignore their expressed will and presume *I* know better what's best for them -- which is exactly what they're advocating for homosexuals. Grrr....

posted by LordSludge at 8:30 PM on December 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


Yvonne Craig Lee Meriwether
posted by kirkaracha at 8:58 PM on December 6, 2010


Humans are sinful by nature.

What always bugged me about that "logic" is that it means that being good is unnatural, and being unnatural is good. Where does gay=unnatural=bad fit into that? It's bonkers!
posted by Sys Rq at 9:03 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ornella Muti

I think she had something to do with my choosing to date mainly evil or at least morally ambiguous people for much of my youth.
posted by Artw at 9:10 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


What bothers me about people who tell me that I chose to be gay is that they believe I'm a liar. They know gay people, for the most part, claim that it's not a choice, and they know that gay people are the only ones who would know. They think gay people are lying to them.

That's usually my opening salvo whenever I get into this argument on message boards. "So, you're telling me that in direct contravention to my memories about this issue, that at one point I chose to be gay? Am I lying to you, or am I delusional? If you're starting this conversation with the assumption that I'm a liar, why bother even talking to me?"

It really is the current that underlies this particular argument, though; gay people chose, they're lying to you if they say they didn't, and you can't trust them. Bursting that bubble, as the video does, is glorious.
posted by MrVisible at 9:28 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Humans are sinful by nature. Homosexual sex is one form of sinfulness.

As my dear, dear family has analogized more than once: homosexuality is like kleptomania. You may be so inclined, but indulging that inclination is a sin.

That someone would take harmless, consensual, enjoyable sex and liken it to shoplifting is a whole fresh realm of disgusting we don't see much of around here. But that's my family. They're giving that way.
posted by Zozo at 9:38 PM on December 6, 2010 [5 favorites]


LordSludge: And even if you have sinned, you can accept Jesus into your heart, be washed free of sin, and go to heaven -- but NOT NOT NOT if you continue to have gay sex, as that implies that you don't, in fact, have Jesus in your heart because you refuse to stop sinning. So, very simply: Gay sex = you go to hell.

You really need to add that it's not just gay sex that they're objecting to, but the entirety of the spectrum of homosexual intimacy, including the sex act. If I and my partner were never to have sex again or even if we had never had sex at all, we'd still be hellbound, because we're in a relationship that's forbidden by God. It's not just the sex act that's sin.

Marty Marx: I still don't like it because "Do you think I'd choose to be this way?" is a rhetorical trick that only works for Kinsey 6s, but I've harped on that enough. I still think it's self-hating because of the way the complaint is set up: the oppressive social conditions are taken as an unspoken given, and the speaker's personal identity is subject to change. Since we're talking about hypotheticals, why choose one that takes social conditions as a given to object to those social conditions?

I don't quite follow you. First, I am a Kinsey 6, so am I then not engaging in a rhetorical trick -- or am I? Second, the oppressive social conditions are a given. That's my point. In an ideal universe they would not be a given, but in the life that I live, and in the lives that millions of other gay people live, it is a very real thing to be concerned that a piece of legislation could make your life a living hell with relative ease, in a way that would not occur as easily with heterosexuals over the same set of social norms and legal rights.

The debate over Prop 8 occurring in the federal appeals court right now is a perfect example of that. I have to wait for a panel of three judges to tell me whether my California marriage is legal or illegal. And even if they decide it's legal, it's likely that they'll decide that it's only legal in California, nowhere else. So, again: given these and hundreds of other similar circumstances, ranging from hospital visitation rights to estate issues to federal taxation, it would be easier for me to be heterosexual, and therefore, if I had the choice to go back and make, and I was deciding only on the basis of what life would be in some general sense easier, I would choose to be straight. Obviously there are a thousand other reasons that would weigh against that being the only consideration, so the conundrum is ultimately not illustrative. But I don't think the phrase is just an empty rhetorical exercise, either.
posted by blucevalo at 10:51 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


What always bugged me about that "logic" is that it means that being good is unnatural, and being unnatural is good. Where does gay=unnatural=bad fit into that? It's bonkers!

You actually want to know what's going on here? It's got to do with the Fall. "Natural" in a Christian context can mean "As God intended" (that is, according to our prelapsarian nature) or it can mean "As we are now, according to our current debased nature." Homosexuality is "unnatural" in the first sense; we are "naturally" sinful in the second sense. No contradiction there, just the everyday ambiguity of natural language, and in context the people using the word are perfectly clear on which sense they're using.

Homophobia is total bullshit. Know your enemy. Even the most dreadful ideology is likely to be internally consistent. Maddening, isn't it?
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:42 AM on December 7, 2010


Hard to be gay when the only other person in the universe is a member of the opposite sex.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:55 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure I chose to be straight at a Matchbox 20 concert around age 11 seeing Rob Thomas in tight pants.

I also have a pretty bad track record as far as sticking to my choices is concerned.
posted by NoraReed at 1:13 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


as long as you don't act on it then you haven't actually sinned

I believe there is considerable overlap between the Xian sects that believe it is a sin to lust in your heart and those that consider homosexuality a sin.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:50 AM on December 7, 2010


I don't recall choosing to be straight, because for the longest time I wasn't entirely positive that I was. When I was young, I always had crushes on girls. Powerful, mad crushes on girls. Jane Curtin, if you must have a celebrity. I wasn't even aware that that was a thing that could happen to someone and that there was a name for it; I just knew that I couldn't say a word to anybody because NOBODY was like that. Of course, when I got a little older, I learned that there was a name for it, names, and those name was "gaywad" or "queer" and I already had enough problems so I still didn't say anything to anybody.

Eventually things reached an equilibrium, where I started getting crushes on boys, but I still got crushes on girls. This did not make things less confusing.

It wasn't until I actually had some experience under my belt (literally) that I was able to confirm that I was straighter than I had previously suspected. It just ... worked better. Chemically and mechanically. Women were beautiful and wonderful, but it broke down when things got technical, and not for lack of "knowing what to do" or the willingness to do it.

Was that a choice? Maybe?
posted by louche mustachio at 4:43 AM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


The question "when did you choose to be straight?" is actually just the start of a much longer "thought experiment" called The Heterosexual Questionnaire. (I used to keep a copy of it taped on the door of my dorm room in college...heh.) I think it makes the point more strongly when you look through all the questions, including:

Why do you insist on flaunting your heterosexuality? Can’t you just be what you are and keep it quiet?

A disproportionate majority of child molesters are heterosexual men. Do you consider it safe to expose children to heterosexual male teachers, pediatricians, priests, or scoutmasters?

Heterosexuals are notorious for assigning themselves and one another rigid, stereotyped sex roles. Why must you cling to such unhealthy role-playing?
posted by dnash at 5:36 AM on December 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


There is this new label called pansexuality for people who are indifferent to gender, as opposed to bisexuals, who often have "moods" for one gender or another.

Uh, as a card-carrying bisexual, I would very much like this misconception to die in a fire. I do not have "moods" for any specific gender. I am attracted to people on a human by human basis, just like anybody else. It just so happens that gender is not part of my screening requirements for the humans involved. Thnx.

(And I think you're misconstruing pansexuality, which more accurately means being attracted to a spectrum of genders - a term that's come into use because bisexual implies that there are only two genders, which isn't entirely accurate. I suppose I myself could be better described as "pansexual" since I don't buy into the gender binary, but it implies to me either a sexual attraction to cookware or to fauns with pan flutes and I'm not in to either of those things.)

(Or, what Zozo said.)

As for choice... I tried for a while to choose to be totally full on lesbian. There's a lot of pressure for bisexuals to "ZOMG JUST CHOOSE ALREADY" and on a purely physical/aesthetic level, I am much more "turned on" by the ladiez. However, in terms of finding partners and developing relationships, I really can truly go either way. When I entered my first LTR with a man after dating women exclusively for a few years, I lost a lot of friends from the GLBT community who really only paid lipservice to being accepting of the "B" and felt that entering a "straight" relationship (which, hi, I'm not straight) meant I had crossed over to the other side. Um. Still queer, thnx. Anyhow, I was married to a man, have now married a different man, and still remain attracted to women. And the only time this is a "problem" for me is talking to queer activists who don't believe that I'm "gay enough." *shrugs*
posted by sonika at 6:30 AM on December 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


MrVisible: “What bothers me about people who tell me that I chose to be gay is that they believe I'm a liar. They know gay people, for the most part, claim that it's not a choice, and they know that gay people are the only ones who would know. They think gay people are lying to them.”

Bullshit. None of the gay people I know closely say this. All of them like the life they live, and say they largely chose it. So – you're telling me they lied to me?
posted by koeselitz at 6:51 AM on December 7, 2010


Choose life. Choose a political career. Choose wide stance. Choose the ignomany of being uncovered in an airport bathroom. Choose the Republican Party.
posted by Artw at 7:10 AM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hard to be straight when the only other person in the universe is a member of the same sex.
posted by blucevalo at 7:23 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


The nature/nurture debate has historically mattered. It defined the difference between whether LGBT people were institutionalized and given abusive medical treatments or treated as sex criminals with police routinely raiding our gathering places.

Meanwhile, as I've been bluntly told by queer people from the Middle East and and South America, there are socially constructed aspects to gay and lesbian sexuality that can't be taken for granted as universals.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:26 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


sonika : Uh, as a card-carrying bisexual, I would very much like this misconception to die in a fire. I do not have "moods" for any specific gender. I am attracted to people on a human by human basis, just like anybody else.

Not quite the same situation, but as a het male, I have "moods" for what I find arousing. I wouldn't take this idea any more seriously than that... Some days every voluptuous redhead that walks by catches your eye, and some days you go for the tatooed and pierced punky waif.

If anyone "accuses" bisexuals of that, I would consider it just an extension of that same idea, along the most obvious axis of variation available.


koeselitz : All of them like the life they live, and say they largely chose it. So – you're telling me they lied to me?

"Liking" your life (or body, or mind) very much counts as a choice. That life itself, not so much.

You can always choose misery - To repress your true self, to maintain totally separate public and private personas, to deny your basic biological urges because you worry about what society will think of it. But what turns out on has no relevance to whether or not you like yourself (except insofar as you allow others to tell you whether or not you should feel happy).


Personally, I never got the whole bio-vs-choice argument, because I just don't care what sends a rush of blood to your erogenous zones. If someone wants to consider their sexuality innate, fine by me. If they want to call it a conscious decision, also fine by me. At the risk of invoking bubblegum, "An it harm none, do what thou wilt" makes a pretty good policy here.
posted by pla at 7:26 AM on December 7, 2010


If anyone "accuses" bisexuals of that, I would consider it just an extension of that same idea, along the most obvious axis of variation available.

But that's not what happens. The common misconception is that bisexuals wake up one day and look at their gendered partner and think "Nah, I'm in the mood for the other one" and then automatically are led to cheat. Or they choose who they date depending on "Eh, I'm in a mood for this gender." And I have never, ever seen this happen. It's not at all the same as thinking "You know, I could go for a blonde" or "I could go for someone in leather pants" as it's implying that bisexuals are mercurial about their dating choices and will abandon their current partner based on "mood." At least, this is how it gets played out quite a lot in the GLBT community.

I don't know about gay men, but I do know that quite a lot lesbians absolutely are reluctant at best to date bisexual women because they'll "move on" to a man when they're no longer in a "girl mood." Which is, flatly, bogus. People cheat because they want to cheat, which is true of anyone - being bisexual in no way increases your odds of that.
posted by sonika at 7:30 AM on December 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


These conversations just remind me of this skit from SMBC.

Basically, a guy sells his soul for a wish: 'I want to be bisexual, immune to STDs and have no standards.'

Even the angel that was trying to convince him otherwise has to admit that it's a good one.

So, yeah, if I had a choice, I'd be bisexual with no standards.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:38 AM on December 7, 2010


"Liking" your life (or body, or mind) very much counts as a choice. That life itself, not so much.

Following on this, would anyone who hated his or her life say that he or she chose it? I suppose that I also "largely" chose my life, too, in the sense that I could have chosen to live a life of repression pretending to be heterosexual, which is what in fact I did in high school and college. Carrying through to post-college years with that life, which was an absolute nightmare, wouldn't have turned out well, and I probably would have wound up killing myself at some point, but yes, I still could have theoretically chosen that. And it still would have been a better life, according to the Christian right.
posted by blucevalo at 7:42 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gay men do that too, sonika, and it's definitely worked to my detriment in the past, but I understand the reticence: I have a lot of queer friends who've had their heart broken by someone who did go back to hetero dating. It's unfair to apply that to all, uh, non-monosexual (?) people, but at least for my friends, it's not entirely unfounded.
posted by Zozo at 7:45 AM on December 7, 2010


I have a lot of queer friends who've had their heart broken by someone who did go back to hetero dating.

UGGGGGHHHHHH. We are still queer even if we aren't dating the opposite gender. *head. desk.* It's not going "back" to hetero dating because you're not hetero. It's changing partners. If the partner has a different gender, that's pretty much irrelevant.

It's really a disservice to bisexuals to say "Well, it's fair not to date them because they could end up dating someone of the other gender next." A gay man can move on to another man! A lesbian can move on to another woman! Moving on is always possible and to say that it's ok to exclude a group of people from your dating pool because they might date the other gender if your relationship ends is short sighted at best and contributes to the biphobia that pervades the G&L communities.
posted by sonika at 7:49 AM on December 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


sonika, I absolutely agree. Like I said upthread, I married a woman and I am exactly 0% less queer for it. I think I misspoke. Let me try again:

It's indeed a disservice, and short-sighted, and biphobic; it's also prejudicial and crappy and, well, kind of dumb. But sometimes—and I'm really only speaking for a few of my close friends here—it's the kind of short-sighted dumb thinking that comes from having your heart kicked in.

Whenever I hear someone say, "oh, you can't trust a bisexual, they'll just blah blah blah right back to Heteroville," I grind my teeth in rage. But then I try to remind myself that I don't know why they think that way. Maybe it's just an old wound talking, like the way I can't even hear about Calgary, Alberta because when I was 22 a girl broke up with me and moved there and that shit still stings.

Or maybe they're just a world-class asshole. I don't know. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, is all.
posted by Zozo at 8:02 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


(Which isn't to say I don't try to educate them. Because bisexuals aren't like that, and Calgary is a perfectly nice city with a lot of... actually, let's just stick to bisexuals on this one.)
posted by Zozo at 8:04 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


People cheat because they want to cheat, which is true of anyone - being bisexual in no way increases your odds of that.

How can you be so sure that bisexuality doesn't in any way increase those odds? For instance, I have a friend who's bisexual who says s/he feels a strong need not to stay in a relationship with one person for a long time without having an outlet with the other gender. On my friend's account, the need to be non-monogamous is related to bisexuality. Now, my friend might be right or wrong about that. I really don't know the truth. But why are you so sure s/he's wrong?
posted by John Cohen at 8:09 AM on December 7, 2010


As opposed to the multitude of straight and gay people in explicitly or implicitly open relationships?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:13 AM on December 7, 2010


On my friend's account, the need to be non-monogamous is related to bisexuality. Now, my friend might be right or wrong about that. I really don't know the truth. But why are you so sure s/he's wrong?

S/he's not wrong. S/he's polyamorous. In addition to being bisexual. Sure, his/her bisexuality might play into that, but it's an add-on, not a feature of bisexuality itself. Some people aren't monogamous. These people exist in all flavors of sexuality and are no more represented in the bi community than in the G, L, or even S communities.

Plenty of people are bisexual. Plenty of people are polyamorous. One does not imply the other.
posted by sonika at 8:15 AM on December 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Plenty of people are bisexual. Plenty of people are polyamorous. One does not imply the other.

Saying one doesn't imply the other is one thing. It's quite another thing to say that being bisexual makes one no more likely to be polyamorous. That's a statistical question. I don't know the answer. I don't know how you know the answer either.
posted by John Cohen at 8:19 AM on December 7, 2010


It's quite another thing to say that being bisexual makes one no more likely to be polyamorous.

Why on earth WOULD it? Honestly. Why would having any one sexual orientation make you more likely to be polyamorous?

FWIW, anecdotally, I have friends in open relationships. The break down would have to be the majority are in hetero relationships with a few scattered cases wherein one partner is bisexual and the other is hetero/gay. But statistically? The vast majority of poly relationships that I personally know of are hetero. I see no trend that a bisexual partner makes a poly relationship more likely.
posted by sonika at 8:23 AM on December 7, 2010


Saying one doesn't imply the other is one thing. It's quite another thing to say that being bisexual makes one no more likely to be polyamorous. That's a statistical question. I don't know the answer. I don't know how you know the answer either.

Here's the thing: Bisexuality isn't some kind of compulsive force that makes us need to fuck both sexes simultaneously and constantly. It just means that when we are attracted to someone, gender is not a major contributing factor. This in no way negates the possibility or likelihood or longevity of a monogamous relationship. In the same way heterosexuals are capable of limiting themselves to one partner without having to hump everyone of the opposite sex, bisexuals are twice as capable.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:57 AM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


There sure a great many answers I like here. Not that I agree with all of them but I am favorite-ing away anyways.

Now can we have the "When did you choose to be bisexual" thread, please?

Because I'm 45, and I chose it like a couple of years ago when it finally dawned on me that there really were some of me and that I wasn't just a myth and that I did need to choose already:

But instead of gay or straight, I just chose bisexual.

And I was right!
posted by Mike Mongo at 9:00 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had my suspicions all along, but Jo Collins (SFW) confirmed me in December 1965. Age 12. Sneaking into my brother's magazine stash.
posted by beelzbubba at 9:47 AM on December 7, 2010


it's also prejudicial and crappy and, well, kind of dumb. But sometimes—and I'm really only speaking for a few of my close friends here—it's the kind of short-sighted dumb thinking that comes from having your heart kicked in.. . . I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, is all.

I'm not sure what benefit is supposed to come to them from thinking it's an old wound talking. These few close friends are using a socially accepted bigotry to lash out at people who dumped them. And the whole point of invoking the nasty stereotype is for them to trash an ex and feel superior about their ability to maintain relationships. That's not exculpatory; that's garden-variety bigotry.
posted by Marty Marx at 10:58 AM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I chose to be straight when I realised that contemplating ladies made me go all peculiar in the downstairs region.
posted by Decani at 12:01 PM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


slimepuppy: “Basically, a guy sells his soul for a wish: 'I want to be bisexual, immune to STDs and have no standards.' Even the angel that was trying to convince him otherwise has to admit that it's a good one. So, yeah, if I had a choice, I'd be bisexual with no standards.”

Speaking as someone who nearly fits that profile, let me just say that two out of three isn't really as fantastic as you might think on this count. Also, many people find they can be "bisexual with no standards" if they just smoke a lot of weed. YMMV.
posted by koeselitz at 12:15 PM on December 7, 2010


That's not exculpatory; that's garden-variety bigotry.

To be as clear as I can possibly be: biphobia sucks. I don't support it, I don't condone it, I don't excuse it, and I don't let it pass by unchallenged, but I do understand that sometimes it comes from a place of pain, not general assholeness, and I find that a little bit of understanding can go a long way towards changing problematic ideas. Like bigotry.

So, you know, whatever. I'll keep extending a minimum amount of empathy towards people whose minds I might want to change on a topic that affects me quite personally, and you keep doing... whatever it is you're doing. I hope it works for you.
posted by Zozo at 1:17 PM on December 7, 2010


Christie.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:50 AM on December 7 [+] [!]


Thought it might have been Julie; afraid it might have been Agatha; relieved it wasn't John. Me being generally wrong, there.
posted by Grangousier at 1:27 PM on December 7, 2010


When I really consider the question I have to wonder, when did I decide that men and women (or back then boys and girls) were equally attractive sexual partners? My first sexual partner was female. But I also remember having sexual thoughts about boys as far back as 10 years old. It's weird, because I never recall being ashamed of my sexual thoughts. Of course I understood that others might not appreciate my advances and so I never acted on same sex thoughts back then. Or any at that age.

My first same sex partner was a boy that I was close friends with from grade school though. We were smoking weed and, well, you know. It wasn't very long after my first hetero experience. I was 16 years old and very happy then.

I guess my parents just raised me well.
posted by Splunge at 1:28 PM on December 7, 2010


Olivia Newton-John.

Or more properly, my pre-kindergarten teacher, but I don't have a link for her.

And, yeah, I don't think it matters one red cent whether your sexuality is a "choice" or predetermined by biology.

What if someone chose to be black or white? Would you treat them differently? Of course not.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:54 PM on December 7, 2010


As my dear, dear family has analogized more than once: homosexuality is like kleptomania. You may be so inclined, but indulging that inclination is a sin.

That someone would take harmless, consensual, enjoyable sex and liken it to shoplifting is a whole fresh realm of disgusting we don't see much of around here. But that's my family. They're giving that way.


If they were as giving as they say they are in public I wouldn't have to sneak around compulsively stealing all this gay sex from them.

i'm not exactly sure what this means
posted by FatherDagon at 1:57 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


What if someone chose to be black or white? Would you treat them differently? Of course not.

Perhaps you don't recall the seething geysers of blasting hatred directed at so-called 'wiggers' back in the day.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:58 PM on December 7, 2010


How does the old song go? "You've got to be carefully taught..."
posted by koeselitz at 2:03 PM on December 7, 2010


I chose to be straight while contemplating the forms before I was born into this, my most recent, life.
posted by oddman at 3:55 PM on December 7, 2010


slimepuppy: "... I'd be bisexual with no standards"

Your local hobo thanks you.
posted by bwg at 5:38 PM on December 7, 2010


Hard to be gay when the only other person in the universe is a member of the opposite sex.

I refer you to the short story "When Science-Fiction Clichés Go Bad" by my friend Jennifer Pelland.
posted by Gridlock Joe at 9:27 AM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Belmont University in Nashville just fired an award-winning women's basketball coach because she went public with her sexual orientation. Gail Kerr of The Tennessean has written a great column about it, which includes the following:

Take this Facebook message, from a woman I've known since college, who asked for anonymity:

"The Belmont situation is why I stay in the closet," she wrote. "I love my job. I stay in the closet because I want to keep it. I didn't 'choose' this. It is not a lifestyle of 'choice.' It is part of me.

"Who would choose it like they were choosing an ice cream flavor?"

This is a woman who is 50 years old and is forced — in order to keep her job — to live a lie. Then there is the professor I heard from, who has openly encouraged students to discuss what is going on. The prof fully expects not to be fired, just not to be rehired next year.

posted by blucevalo at 12:09 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


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