So when did you choose to fall in love with someone?
There’s a meme circulating right now attributed to a female rock singer who has been vocally pro gay rights and a strong ally to the LGBTQ community.
But it’s bothering me. A lot.
It says, “The only difference between me and my gay friends is who we choose to love, and I don’t think that’s a reason to take away someone’s basic rights.”
The last five words are paraphrased. But it’s the first part that’s sticking in my head.
Choose. Choice. That’s the word leveled at GLBTQ people by almost anyone who wants to say that we don’t deserve the right to be protected from violence on the street or discrimination in the workplace. That we don’t deserve children or a spouse. That our lives would be better if we would just be “like everyone else”.
Choose. Choice. That we choose to not be straight. That we choose to be attracted to, physically or romantically or both, to someone of our own gender, or both genders, or any gender.
You can ask people, with no knowledge of their sexual orientation, if you can control who you fall in love with. Most of them will tell you, even if not from their own experience, that you can’t. They’ve felt it themselves or seen it in someone else. Someone has given them that deep-in-the-gut, heart-gripping, brain-fluttering feeling, that rush of pure emotion, that we call love. Not lust. Love. And sometimes it’s someone they can’t have, or shouldn’t have.
It’s not something they choose or control. The same goes for attraction, definitely not to be confused with love,
They, we can control how we respond and what we do with those feelings. But they aren’t something we choose.
Ask most people who don’t identify as straight, or even those who do, when they chose to be ______. They answer will be, “I just knew.” or “I just am.”
So when an ally, a person who herself defies convention in attitudes, appearance, and relationships, says that who we love is a choice, I can only hope that she chose her words badly. That she meant, “who we love” or “who we are attracted to” or if you really want to split hairs, “who we have relationships with” or “who we choose to have relationships with.”
It’s hard enough to convince our antagonists that this is not a choice. We don’t need our allies feeding them soundbites for their cause.
Photo: Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr