Despite the initial different-looking headline at Jay Anderson's (about Michael Steele) ... I posted the following in response to someone who flatly and dogmatically declared "being gay is not a choice." Something which is simply not true (elaborations here, but not at Jay's, are in italics)
Goreds, anyone who says "being gay is not a choice" doesn't know what in the world he's thinking about. He doesn't know "being" "gay" and "choice" all mean.
To be a little less cryptic, saying "being gay is not a choice," notwithstanding the indubitable fact that our sexual desires feel as if they come from nowhere, presupposes"
- sexual orientation as an ontological category ("being") which is, frankly, ass-hattery, as any competent historian of the history of sexuality from Freud to Foucault could tell you. In other words, the very fact that the construction of sexuality and its salient categories are in some sense historical (as the Biblical revisionists insist when they wish to argue that St. Paul and the Hellenistic world had no concept of what we would call "a homosexual orientation"¹) means that it cannot be a human "essence";
- sexuality as a binary-exclusive category rather than a continuum (who are the Bs in LGBT, then?). In other words, the minute anyone is bisexual, the whole concept of a gay-straight dichotomy -- which is essential to the "nature" argument about its genesis, the notion that sexuality is a "being," and the rhetorical force of the "discrimination" complaints -- it all collapses. Bisexuals can only act like straights or like gays, which shows that the "essence" of sexuality is doing, not being (or they could act like either at different times, I suppose, but that's just as anti-essentialist);
- choice as a self-conscious, pure creative act without condition or influence ("I *will* it thus). I mostly said my piece about this subject here. Homosexuality is a choice in the sense that all acquired personality traits are choices, i.e., they're affected by how we act, but they're not something for which we are conscious of having deliberately opted;
- "gay" as a term having nothing to do with self-identification or self-consciousness. See discussion at the end. Though somewhat snarkily, I've actually been told this by the only actively-gay friend I've ever had who knew about my issues. I was a virgin at the time, and I used "we" or "us" in some reference having to do with some cultural aspect of homosexuality. He got offended and said "until you've [locker-room term for sex], you ain't one of us."
Personality and identity formation are both fascinating subjects, except when the H word gets mentioned, in which case, PC orthodoxy toes the line. There's way more to be said about identity than petulant little "It is not a choice, everyone else is ignorant" squibs.
Just ask yourself this what does "being gay" mean if it does not refer to observable behavior (which is often both chosen and changeable)? If it neither refers to some eternal state separated from matters of behavior, nor primarily a matter of self-identification (either would be both chosen and changeable), then *what* *is* *it*? So is it a biological thing .... but if so, then why can't you give a blood/gene/semen/skin/breath/whatever test for it?
¹ A statement that, as far as it goes, is true enough.
² Don't get me started on the absurd bad-faith of saying that "gender" is socially constructed, while somehow arguing that "who turns you on" is both innate and defined by "gender."