NOT « Born This Way » ? Yes, I was.

Queer McGill seems to be doing everything possible to piss me off. Not me, personally, but it sure has that effect. I’m not fabulous, and I never will be — so stop telling me that that’s how I should act. Just because I am gay does not mean that I immediately love prancing around with a scarf and a falsetto voice. My voice stubbornly resists any attempt to avoid a generally low rumble these days, and if I wore a scarf I’d die of heat exhaustion.

So don’t tell me I’m not born this way, or even imply otherwise.

What’s prompted this reaction is an event, where a QM exec, a professor of cultural studies, and a professor of sexual identity are asking if we really are « born this way » or not; do we « have some control over who we fuck? »

That’s a dangerous question to ask.

For decades, the argument posed against allowing gay rights was that we « choose to be like this », that somehow we’ve chosen to act in a manner « against nature ». I’ve read plenty about this tripe, and to see people supposedly wearing my colours arguing the same way turns my stomach. This is an argument with historical context, which we ignore at our peril.

The argument is that we are told that it is only okay to be gay if we have no choice, due to birth. The problem is, that ignores the history of our struggle, and simply argues against Lady GaGa’s recent blatantly consumerist hit song, « Born This Way ». The true argument lies a bit below the surface, and requires that we consider the history of the gay rights movement. I said a paragraph ago that anti-gay rights commentators and bigots have for years argued that we choose to act in this manner, that we choose our sexuality. « Born This Way » is a potent (albeit heavy-handed) response to that argument: we are not just who we choose to be, we are also born with some set of attractions. If you can choose which gender you want to have sex with, you’re just more fluid in your attractions. I know that I, personally, rate a six on the Kinsey Scale (I often joke that I really rate a seven, but that would be impossible.) If you can choose, you’re probably more a two or a three. So, yes, some people can choose. I can’t, and that’s just life. However, arguing that because some people can choose, everyone can, is a dangerous precedent and a patent falsehood. « If some, all » is a logical construct that only works in mathematics, and any logician or mathematician would tell you so.

Before I continue in this polemic, I’m going to suggest some songs to listen to, because unlike « Born This Way », they deal with coming to terms with one’s sexuality, not simply accepting from the start. The songs are by Ray Boltz, a Christian Rock singer/songwriter who came out to his family a few years ago: « True » and « I Chose », both off his album True, released just in 2010. This is the sole Christian Rock album I own, and it truly bridges Christian Rock and, I suppose, some sort of Queer Rock genre, if such a thing could even be said to exist. This entire album is an indictment of the mentality that sexuality can simply be changed, and instead presents a queer-positive view of accepting yourself. If « Born This Way » seems too consumerist, give this a try.

Now that I’ve cooled down a little, I’m going to break down the remaining arguments I have against this idea that we can simply choose « who to fuck[.] » (Yes, I am quoting the e-mail.)

What is this « right track » ? How about being able to live openly, peacefully, and lovingly? I know that I could have used more music telling me it was okay to be who I really knew I was, three to four years ago. Four years ago, my life fell apart because who I was was in conflict with who I thought I was. This cognitive dissonance led to the worst year of my life, when I couldn’t accept myself for being myself, thinking something was wrong. Although I think « Born This Way » is over-done, and I prefer « I Chose » to get my point across, it all has the same message, which is a message we shouldn’t be arguing against right now: just because you’re not like 90% of the population doesn’t mean something’s wrong, it just means you’re a little unusual.

So, yes, I was « Born This Way », Queer McGill. Never doubt it, because when you need to ask yourself that question, I hope you have someone else to rely on; you’ll need it.

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