Monday, July 18, 2011

A Few Short Words on an Important Topic

I have held back on writing this post for a while now, largely because many thinkers (including Yasmin Nair, Jillian Weiss, Patrick Califia, and Peter Tatchell among others) have done such a fabulous job with the very topic I am going to cover here. Nonetheless, I have realized that even if I only retread much of the ground thinkers such as these have covered I am doing my part by registering my dissent against a worrying trend. As dissent on this topic grows increasingly taboo both inside and outside the LGBT community, I plan to register my concern in as clear of terms as possible before all voices speaking against the current prevailing sentiment are drowned out completely.

I hate the notion of biological determinism as it applies to sexual orientation. I find the spectacle of sexual minorities carrying on piteously about how they would never choose to be this way embarrassing. The "science" behind these ideas is terrible and it tends to perpetuate notions that feminists have traditionally and rightly found repugnant. It tends to be unreflective of women's experiences who often experience greater sexual fluidity in their lives than many men do. It is ahistorical and ignores the social construction of human sexuality in different societies. It makes bisexual people largely invisible. It erases many fascinating and important traditions in LGBT history (such as lesbian separatism). These arguments are made in spite of the fact that women, racial minorities, youth, the elderly, and even disabled people have spent years trying to deconstruct the idea that they are inherently biologically different because that idea has never been good in the long term for any marginalized group ever. Perhaps worst of all, it perpetuates the notion that there is something wrong with being LGBT because no one would choose it.

If anyone would like to learn in more depth about these ideas, I would refer you to the works of the authors listed above, all of whom have written at length about this topic. I feel that I have very little to contribute to this topic in addition to their words of wisdom. I am just going to end this piece by saying that the sooner the "born this way" meme dies the happier I will be. And trust me, it will come back to hurt us big time if it doesn't.

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