Queer by Choice, Not by Chance: Against Being 'Born This Way'

Whether or not I deserve the same rights as straight people has nothing to do with whether I chose to be the way I am today


I am a queer woman planning to get married next year in a state where my marriage will not be legally recognized. It will probably not surprise you to learn that, sometimes, being gay is not easy. Coming out to your family is nervewracking, people yell slurs and threats when you hold hands on the street, and most lesbian movies are just terrible. With all those drawbacks, those of us who spend our lives with a partner of the same sex must really have no choice in the matter -- or so goes the prevailing wisdom of the gay rights movement. It's not our decision; it's genetic; we can't help to whom we're attracted. If it were up to us, wouldn't we turn our backs on all the abuse and discrimination and get nice and legally married without a second thought?

If there's one thing to be said about lesbian relationships, it's this: You always start from equal footing.

Well, no. Not all of us anyway. Some of us have figured out that, despite being underrepresented in Western culture at almost every level, despite facing homophobia and transphobia and gender policing and the disapproval of our families, being gay can actually be fantastic.

In direct opposition to both the mainstream gay movement and Lady Gaga, I would like to state for the record that I was not born this way. I have dated both men and women in the past, and when I've been with men, I never had to lie back and think of Megan Fox. I still notice attractive men on the street and on television. If I were terrified of the stigma associated with homosexuality, it would have been easy enough to date men exclusively and stay in the closet my whole life.

Obviously, no one sits down and makes a rational decision about who to fall in love with, but I get frustrated with the veiled condescension of straight people who believe that queers "can't help it," and thus should be treated with tolerance and pity. To say "I was born this way" is to apologize for the person I am and for whom I love. It's like saying I would be different if I could. I wouldn't.

My partner is worried about how a relationship can change once a couple has children. "Even when the father is this totally supportive, feminist partner, once the baby comes the woman ends up doing all the child-rearing -- and working at the same time."

I nod; I've watched this dynamic unfold more than once in the partnerships of others. "It's just really unfair," my partner continues.

"But baby," I say, "it's not going to be like that for us."

"How can you be sure?"

I smile. "Because neither of us are guys."

If there's one thing to be said about lesbian relationships, it's this: You always start from equal footing. It is never assumed that one partner is genetically predisposed to enjoy doing laundry. Bizarrely, I actually do enjoy doing laundry, or at least prefer it to most other household necessities; my partner, on the other hand, is a skilled and enthusiastic cook. So I provide clean sheets and folded undershirts, and in return I get homemade pear-gorgonzola pizza and lemon-roasted asparagus. I also do more of the housework right now because my partner is working full-time while I'm in graduate school. We divide up the chores based on who can realistically do what, and arrive at the best possible arrangement for the two of us and our relationship. We don't have ready-made roles to step into -- the breadwinner, the housewife. We're just us, trying to do what we can for each other.

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Lindsay Miller is a freelance writer based in Colorado.

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