Current Residence: San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA

1/1/04: Although posting infrequently, I've remained on this Queer-by-Choice mailing list for quite some time. It's proved an invaluable resource. A big thanks goes to Gayle for starting it.

Most of us here define queerness as-in some way-chosen, yet I feel we must respect those who disagree-whatever their sexual preference, orientation, or identity may be. Expressing our ideas and ideologies should not hinder mutual respect. Rational people can disagree-rationally.

When I first came out as a gay man, the "we cannot help who we are" stance seemed somehow fundamentally flawed. This was before "queerness" and "political correctness" appeared, and long before the (now) popular backlash AGAINST political correctness!!

But my feelings were not motivated by political correctness or by any backlash; my apprehension was simply innate. Yet I couldn't find words to express my position. My essay below, written more recently, attempts to express my position.


Why do we in the gay community spend so much energy attempting to convince society that homosexuality is both genetic and unchangeable? Our energy would be better spent asserting our human rights rather than proving "we can't help who we are." Although the lesbian community often asserts this more powerful idea, it seems wholly lost within the gay male community. The "unable to change" mantra is ever chanted far and wide.

The 'unable to change' rationale remains weak due to two hidden fallacies. The first fallacy can be stated as "being-equals-doing." The second fallacy can be stated as either "natural-equals-good" or "unnatural-equals-bad." And virtually all arguments—whether for or against gay rights-invoke one or both.

The commonly held parallel between African-American rights and gay rights represents one example of the 'unable to change' argument. First, this parallel erroneously implies that skin color causes desires that compel behavior; in other words, "being-equals-doing." Second, even if skin color did produce deep-seated desires, the corresponding behaviors would not be entitled to freedom of expression because of genetics-natural does not equal good. Yes, both African-Americans and homosexuals are entitled to human rights, but not for this misused logic.

The commonly held parallel between left-handedness and homosexuality represents another version of the 'unable to change' argument; it also contains both fallacies. First, everyone is not entitled to a behavior simply because a portion of the population has a genetic propensity toward that behavior. Being does not equal doing. Second, although a trait may be genetic, behavior is not entitled to freedom of expression simply because of its genetic origins. Natural does not equal good.

Yes, every person is entitled to favor their left hand, or right hand, or both. Yes, every person is entitled to favor homosexual behavior, or heterosexual behavior, or both-but not for the rationale as normally proposed.

The prohibition of homosexuality by the Roman Catholic Church illustrates the argument commonly used AGAINST gay rights. The Church-and most everyone in fact-already views homosexuality as inherent; but they make the distinction that, although homosexuality may be innate, every individual may still choose whether to act on her or his gayness, thus skipping the first fallacy. However they then judge homosexual behavior to be unnatural, deeming it immoral and thereby committing the second fallacy: "unnatural-equals-bad."

How ironic that "natural-equals-good" is used to support gay rights and "unnatural-equals-bad" is used to oppose gay rights, and neither follows!

Natural proofs or genetic proofs, will never confer human rights, for the simple reason that any "fact" may still be judged as morally good or morally bad. Moreover, if the world's largest religious organization, the Roman Catholic Church, already views homosexuality as both innate and immoral, then why do we think a genetic proof will ultimately secure our rightful place within society? This hope has already been proven false.

Despite this, most gay people eagerly await the day when the hailed Genome Project will announce absolute proof of The Gay Gene and thus globally grant lesbians and gay men a scientifically proven morality. But human rights are not derived from a test tube!

Nothing—not God, not governments, and certainly not organized religion-can grant us a right to feel or think. Thoughts, feelings, and desires occur; but they cannot, by definition, directly affect others and therefore "human rights" do not apply.

"Human rights" is a concept that governs the realm of our behavior within the complex concept of ethics. To be deemed valid, moral, good or bad, our behaviors must always be considered within the context of our interwoven society.

This constitutes the primary rationale for human rights—both 'handed rights' and homosexual rights. It commits neither fallacy while marking the broadest possible boundary for our individuality. It embodies a powerful logic, upon which "free speech" and even "freedom of religion" is based.

Too often our gay identity is already seen as a genetic aberration to be cured or an innate pitiable condition to be tolerated. This is not acceptable. Homosexuality may be genetic; gayness may be natural. But this premise holds no power.

Homosexuality is valid, moral, and good, not BECAUSE it is natural or genetic, but because the behaviors associated with it do not infringe on the rights of others. This is the logic that bestows rights. This is the position that possesses power. As mature adults we take full responsibility for our actions. We ALL deserve human rights-because we are human-not because we are helpless.

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