This piece was originally published on the Blowfish Blog.
In the various and sundry debates about gay rights, the question of whether sexual orientation is a choice comes up with almost irritating predictability. And when it does, one of the things Iâve noticed is that bisexuality — as it so often does — gets completely ignored.
Of course itâs true that I donât have a choice about who Iâm sexually attracted to. And I didnât have a choice about who I fell in love with. I donât choose that, any more than anyone else does. But back when I was dating, I did have a choice about who I dated and who I socialized with. At the time that I fell for Ingrid, I was dating women, and socializing in the lesbian community, a whole lot more than I was with men and in the hetero community. And I was doing it out of choice.
Now, of course, thatâs a generalization, and a very broad one at that. Not all women are like that, and plenty of men are. And if Iâd happened to meet and fall for a man who was cooperative and empathetic and expressive and a good listener etc., then that would have been just ducky. But back when I was dating, dating women just seemed to make more sense. It was the smart way of playing the odds. It was loading the dice.
It is, IMO, one of the differences between being bisexual and being monosexual (hetero- or homosexual). You can, in theory, be happy being sexual and romantic with someone of either gender… and so you have at least some degree of choice about which gender you get involved with. Indeed, if your relationship preference is very strong indeed, you can actually flat-out refuse to get involved with potential partners of one gender or the other, even if your libido or your heart is temporarily pulling you towards them… and unlike homosexual people who refuse to accept their homosexuality, you can still have a happy and satisfying sexual and romantic life. And even if you donât go that far, you can still generally date and socialize with the gender and the community youâd prefer to end up with. You canât choose who you get the hots for… but you can hang out with the kind of people youâd be happy to hook up with if lightning strikes. You can load the dice.
And this is a big part of the reason that I think the âchoiceâ issue is a red herring in the gay rights debates. After all, you could argue that pedophiles donât choose to be attracted to children, and still think itâs profoundly immoral to act on that attraction. The important question in the gay rights debates is not whether being queer is a choice, but whether thereâs any reason whatsoever to think that being queer is harmful. And by now, the evidence is overwhelming that it is not. Whether itâs a choice or not is irrelevant. It is still, flatly and unequivocally, none of anybody elseâs damn business.