Addressing Queer by Choice Concerns
Will Help Other Queer People Too

Many parents in the process of recovering from homophobia begin by "accepting" their children's queerness only on the condition that ther children swear they have absolutely no choice in the matter—in fact, often they cannot even bear to acknowledge that some other queer people do feel we chose to be queer. Furthermore, often these people's children, perhaps frightened by the precariousness of their parents' "acceptance," or perhaps suffering from some continued homophobia of their own, encourage their parents' silencing and denial of those of us who experience our queerness as a chosen aspect of our identity. Because PFLAG includes families at all stages of the adjustment process, it includes a fair share of these kinds of parents and children for whom the slightest mention of anyone having a choice about being queer feels like a threat.

Should these kinds of families be carefully protected from having to acknowledge the existence of the portion of the queer community (about 8%, according to The 1997 Internet Survey of Queer and Questioning Youth conducted by OutProud and Oasis Magazine) who feel we chose to be queer? Or isn't it possible that no matter how much of a threat the concept of choice may feel like at first, coming into contact with a person who celebrates their queerness as something worthy of choosing can actually help to liberate others from the vestiges of homophobia they're still trapped in?

Parents of queer people need to know that for many of us, the brand of grudging "acceptance" that requires us to swear we had absolutely no choice about our sexual orientation or gender identity is not enough. In pushing PFLAG members to start defending their children's human rights on a basis other than "they have no choice!" we are doing something that benefits a much broader cross-section of the queer community than just the ones who call themselves queer by choice. There are many people, for example, who are not quite sure whether or not they had a little bit of choice, but who have not yet gotten up the courage to admit this to their parents. They tell their parents they had no choice at all, but when their parents seize hold of this statement and repeat it over and over, using it as the basis for defending their children's human rights, the message it sends to their children is this: "You'd better hope you didn't have any choice, because if I ever get the idea you had the slightest shred of choice, I will never forgive you."

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