Quotes from Unsafe PFLAG Chapters

All of the quotes below are taken from personal email correspondence that PFLAG chapters sent to us in response to an inquiry from QueerByChoice list founder Gayle Madwin which asked, in part:

I'm wondering if you have any kind of official policy on what causes homosexuality. Or unofficially, have there been any lectures or discussions on it, and if so, which point of view did they tend to support? . . . [If a] parent and child have trouble talking about homosexuality because the parent believes it's inborn and the gay/lesbian child wants to convince them it's a choice, how would the PFLAG members be likely to respond to that?

As you'll see, the responses from these chapters were very different from the responses on our Quotes from Safe Chapters page. Unfortunately we'll have to keep these quotes anonymous since we didn't get permission to quote these people.

"I don't think you'll ever hear a gay person say that their orientation is a choice. The only choice is whether or not to live a lie. I hope this is a help to you."

"Now on the other [hand] if the child says they are gay or lesbian by choice and tries to convince their parents of that then I would think the child does not know who they are. I cannot believe that any child, any adult person would choose something that would cause them to be rejected and hated by some and even to the point of putting their life in danger. I really don't believe any one chooses rejection and hatred."

[Being queer is much more than just being rejected and hated. Many people choose for rational and good reasons to do things that may put their lives in danger. What about Galileo? What about Socrates? Or political dissidents of any kind? For a more detailed response to this and other statements or questions about queer by choice people, please visit our Queer by Choice FAQ and Myths About Queer by Choice People.]

"PFLAG believes it is something a person is born with. It is not a choice."

"Of course I strongly feel that sexual orientation is genetic. [. . .] Our children don't purposely choose relationships to hurt their parents!"

[Choosing to be queer does not, for most of us, have anything to do with wanting to hurt our parents. It is about recognizing that every individual has the right to love, marry, and make love to who she or he wants to. Our parents do not have the right to choose our sexual orientations for us. And if our parents choose to feel hurt by the fact that we don't allow them choose our sexual and/or love partners for us, that is their problem, not ours, and they'll just have to grow up and get over it.]

"As a parent of a gay son and from discussions with gay people, homosexuality is not a choice. I have been attending PFLAG meeting for the past four years and have not heard one participant talk about choice. It is not an issue. When even we have a speaker talking about homosexuality also it is not a choice a person makes but it is the way they are born. Please let me know if you need more info."

"The questions you ask are very common among parents and family that attend the PFLAG meetings.  First of all, it is the position of PFLAG that those who are gay and lesbian are born that way, and that it is not a choice. [. . .] Where these children find the struggle of coming out and trying to convince themselves that it is a choice, is usually in families of high religious background."

"What often happens is those parents who have already experienced the "shock" or "trauma" or whatever of learning we have a gay or lesbian child will talk about how we have learned that sexual orientation is not a choice (who would actually "choose" to live life as a despised and harassed person?) and how wonderful our relationship with our children is now that we have learned to accept them as the same child we have always loved we just have more knowledge about who they are. We have pamphlets and books in our library that will document the medical and psychological experts who enforce this non-choice opinion."

[For our answer to the question "who would actually 'choose' to live life as a despised or harassed person?' please visit our Queer by Choice FAQ.]

"If your parents will come to PFLAG meetings, we can reassure them that being  L/G/B/T  is not any ones choice, it just is. They can still love the same wonderful person they always thought the son or daughter was to begin with."

"First, PFLAG's official policy is that while we know that no one is able to choose or change their sexual orientation, hetero-, homo-, bi-, trans-, etc. we are not certain what determines an individual's sexual orientation. Our only certainty is that it is hard wired either before, at or immediately after birth and has nothing to do with environmental conditioning."

"At least for gay males, I'm firmly convinced that there is absolutely no choice involved, that it is innate = genetically determined.  I feel that most biologists/geneticists/psychologists believe that this is the case even though it has yet to be definitively proven. All "experts" seem to agree that the matter is more complicated for females. [. . .] I know a lot of lesbians who said that they knew that their feelings were for the same sex when they were VERY young = they made no choice. I'm sure that you are aware of Ann Heche's (spelling?) comments that she decided she was "gay" when she saw Ellen across a crowded room, that before that she had been a heterosexual. I find that very hard to believe but I'm not a female. She has said this to reporters. If it isn't true, she has done a GRAVE disservice to the g/l community, since the "religious" right uses the choice issue against us."

[Just what we need, a PFLAG chapter leader who will attack vulnerable queer by choice teenagers and accuse them of doing a "GRAVE disservice to the g/l community." To argue that anyone who speaks of their queerness as a healthy choice is providing support to Jerry Falwell is like arguing that anyone who speaks of their queerness as a healthy inborn trait is providing support to Dr. Laura's statements that we're all "biological errors." Also, there are plenty of males on the QueerByChoice mailing list who consider their queerness a choice—so choice is a phenomenon that transcends all genders.]

"Overwhelmingly the available evidence shows that the choice is ONLY about whether or not to accept fully and to live honestly and in comfort with one's sexual orientation, whatever it may be, no matter what it may be — heterosexual, or non-heterosexual, gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender. We believe that behavior can be "chosen";  gays and lesbians can be coerced into heterosexual relationships, but that will almost certainly be damaging to the individual and to the family that they may choose to create—i.e., damaging to their spouse and to their children. Gays and lesbians can choose to deny their sexual orientation, even to themselves, but to do so is harmful to their true selves and to their relationships with others.  Some choose to hide their orientation from others because of the reality of rejection and abuse in many places (employment, personal life, public life, and even in churches and synagogues) but a price is always paid for this, even when it may be necessary to protect one's self against emotional abuse, verbal abuse or physical abuse."

"There are numerous theories about the origins of a person's sexual orientation; most scientists today agree that sexual orientation is most likely the result of a complex interaction of environmental, cognitive and biological factors.  In most people, sexual orientation is shaped at an early age. There is also considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person's sexuality. In summary, it is important to recognize that there are probably many reasons for a person's sexual orientation, and the reasons may be different for different people. [. . .] No, human beings cannot choose to be either gay or straight. Sexual orientation emerges for most people in early adolescence without any prior sexual experience. Although we can choose whether or not to act on our feelings, psychologists do not consider sexual orientation to be a conscious choice than can be voluntarily changed."

"On the issue of choice: the PFLAG position is that all sexual orientation, including heresexuality [sic] and homosexuality is innate. We choose behavior but we don't choose orientation."

"The PFLAG policy about homosexuality is that it is not a choice. I would find it hard to believe that someone gay would come to a group and say it was a choice. Someone might be confused about their sexuality.....that is different... but anyone who knows they are gay would know that they did not choice [sic] it. Most experts are still studying the cause of homosexuality. Most do think that it is a way a person is born and I feel that PFLAG holds that belief."

You may also want to check out the Response from PFLAG New Orleans, the chapter that started our whole protest, or visit our Quotes from Safe Chapters page and contrast it with this page.

Back to PFLAG: Building a Safe Environment for Our Parents to Learn About Our Choices
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