Marla R. Stevens

Lesbian By the Grace of the Goddess, Queer By Choice

Filed By Marla R. Stevens | July 27, 2006 8:31 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
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I've never been comfortable basing our rights on a 'we can't help it' rationale. It suggests that we're somehow pitiful things -- that non-exclusively heterosexual sexual orientation is a defect, not the every other point on the infinite-points line segment that is normal human sexual orientation that they are.

It also begs the denial of rights to those who do exercise any level of control over their attractions (the stuff of sexual orientation at the combined sexual, affectional, and emotional levels) if such a thing is possible or to make conditional of those rights the exercising of abstinence or other-directional control of behavior related to those attractions.

Rights are rights. They are not meant to be conditional on accidents of birth or behavior one wouldn't expect of others. They are meant to just be -- as we are meant to just be.

I'm always suspicious when someone even wants to know why we're other than exclusively heterosexual without wanting to equally understand why people are exclusively heterosexual. I mean, when was the last time you heard such a balanced inquiry outside of a university sexology department anyway?

Worse, this be-nice-to-the-queers-'cause-they-can't-help-it strategy sends a message of brokenness to our people when we should be instilling pride and strength in who we are.

The Kinsey researchers, as if they were precursors to The Matrix's Morpheus, used to ask a question of their gay-identified subjects, "If you could take a pill that would make you not homosexual, would you?" Most in those dark days near the dawn of our fight answered that they would.

How often today do we hear the question, "Who in their right mind would choose to be gay?" Can you imagine anyone asking who in their right mind would choose to be black or Jewish or any number of other non-majority members of protected classes just because they're oppressed?

'Neo'-queer that I am, I would not take that pill. I prefer to live an authentic life, unplugged from the matrix of het convention, demanding in body, soul, word, and deed to be exactly the queer I am blessed to be. If truth be known, I'm a gay supremacist, firm in the knowledge that we're better than hets in many ways that matter to me (and were proven superior by researchers acting on behalf of the U.S. Army, no less, trying to figure out if they could more easily tell who the queers were so they could more efficiently keep us out of the service). Even if I wasn't a queer supremacist and despite having suffered loss of family, jobs, and other opportunities, as well as having been subjected to antigay violence, including rape, due to my sexual orientation -- enough of the standard reasons given for why people in their right minds wouldn't choose to be queer to count and then some, I'd still choose to be a lesbian -- and it doesn't define me as crazy.

How else, after all, would I have the spousal love of my wife that grows fuller and deeper with every day of our lives? Where would I find such a delightful subculture so rich with beauty and humor and the sort of strength forged in adversity that so fits my soul? I love our freedom to define ourselves as we see fit and the creative diversity with which we've done so. If I were exclusively heterosexual, I'd be denied the depth of intimacy that comes from sharing love with someone whose body and mind responds so like mine and would be relegated to the state of never really fully grasping what the object of my affection really felt -- that always reaching, never quite there no matter how hard they try existence that hets suffer. They may say vive l'difference. Although I'll admit to feeling compassion for their loss, I say horsepucky-- vive l'homogeneite!!

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't support any sort of anti-het oppression. After all, some or all of them might not be able to help it.


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Well said! However, I do have something to say about challenging someone who wants to become Jewish. I don't know if they do this anymore, but I remember hearing that when a person wanted to convert to Judaism, the rabbis would indeed ask them why they would want to join a group of people who have been persecuted for centuries. They wanted the convert-to-be to know exactly what they were getting into.

Getting back to your post, I think people who ask if you would rather be straight ask that because they are so uncomfortable with the whole idea of homosexuality. Because of their narrow-mindedness, they can't conceive of someone being happy to be gay. Of course, they don't understand it's not a choice. These folks segregate themselves and have no understanding of what other people experience. They have no conception of what life is like for people different from themselves. These people need to see beyond labels and realize that we all deserve the same rights and privileges. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SEX!!!!

I also want to say that for me, becoming involved with the GLBT community here in Indy has been one of the most exciting and rich experiences of my life. I feel honored to volunteer with and be friends with some of the most wonderful people I have ever met!

I am currently converting to Judaism, and the rabbi asked me what drew me to Judaism, but there was never an implication that I shouldn't want to join an oppressed people. The only thing I feel like I am "getting in to" is a community in which I can be "this worldly" and work for "tikkun olam," justice and peace on THIS EARTH, and not in some future paradise that isn't guaranteed. Working for GLBTQI justice (in my opinion) fits prefectly into the Jewish idea of tikkun olam.

Jeff Newman | July 28, 2006 9:56 AM

I always liked the simple "pill" question as a test of a non-straight person's self awareness; that is how would you answer the question "if there was a pill that would make you straight would you take it?"

There was a time when I would have answered "hell yes, I'd take the whole F***ing bottle!"

But today, there is absolutely no way. Being gay is simply part of who I am; to be straight would just not be me.

My heart goes out to those who would answer "yes" to the pill question. I only hope they can one day arrive.

Margeaux May | July 28, 2006 11:39 AM

Marla,

What a wonderful post. Your words delivered the hammerstroke into our core identities forcing us as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals to see clearly the two paths before us: one of shame and guilt and the other of pride and gratitude. Certainly, the same holds true for our entire LGBT community as well.

While I am not a member of the Jewish faith, I honor the rich tradition and wisdom it maintains. This post reminded me of the Deuteronomic challenge, "...I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life that you and your decendants may live." (Dt 30:19)

Thank you, Marla.
Margeaux May

All Matrix jokes aside, why aren't you running for office? I've come to believe the, "I deserve rights because I exist" argument is often spoken by the most astute among us.

So if you don't run, I'll be disappointed. And you can't do that to a young gay college kid with dreams of equality, can you?