I think a lot about gay people. They are of fascinating philosophical, sociological and theological interest. So the furore that Cynthia Nixon has sparked is fascinating:
Cynthia Nixon learned the hard way this week that when it comes to gay civil rights, the personal is always political. Very political.
The actress best known for portraying fiery lawyer Miranda Hobbes on “Sex and the City” is up to her perfectly arched eyebrows in controversy since The New York Times Magazine published a profile in which she was quoted as saying that for her, being gay was a conscious choice. Nixon is engaged to a woman with whom she has been in a relationship for eight years. Before that, she spent 15 years and had two children with a man.
“I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me,” Nixon said while recounting some of the flak gay rights activists previously had given her for treading in similar territory. “A certain section of our community is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice, because if it’s a choice, then we could opt out. I say it doesn’t matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not.”
To say that a certain segment of the gay community “is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice” is an understatement. Gay rights activists have worked hard to combat the idea that people decide to be physically attracted to same-sex partners any more than they choose to be attracted to opposite-sex ones because the question, so far unanswered by science, is often used by religious conservatives…
For about the last forty years or so, the sodomite community has been absolutely determined to classify homosexuality as another distinct minority group, like black Americans, or midgets. To do this, they have been adamant that people are born gay or straight, that they can’t change who they are, and that for a gay person to try and be straight is unnatural and harmful. In this they have been helped hugely by many conservative Christians and religious people who have discriminated against homosexual behaviour as if gay people were in fact a discrete minority group.
So when real people like Cynthia Nixon casually point out that the emperor has no clothes, all hell breaks loose. There is a frantic scramble for people to justify their behaviour as innate and unchangeable:
Truth Wins Out founder Wayne Besen…said he found the actress’ analysis irresponsible and flippant, despite her ample caveats.”Cynthia did not put adequate thought into the ramifications of her words, and it is going to be used when some kid comes out and their parents force them into some ex-gay camp while she’s off drinking cocktails at fancy parties,” Besen said. “When people say it’s a choice, they are green-lighting an enormous amount of abuse because if it’s a choice, people will try to influence and guide young people to what they perceive as the right choice.”
Well no shit. It seems obvious to me that there are some forms of sexuality that are healthier than others. We don’t encourage teenagers to masturbate in public, for example. But nobody goes around saying that people are born public masturbaters. And to say that Nixon didn’t choose to be a lesbian, when she says she did, is just ridiculous. How the hell would Wayne Besen know?
I don’t think anybody is born gay. All creatures are born to perpetuate the species, and that necessitates heterosexual sex. That’s not a religious viewpoint, it’s basic biological science. Gay sex is, by biological definition, abnormal. But we are also not born sexual – it develops as we grow up and become aware of ourselves, and our bodies, and interact with others. All manner of factors conspire to influence what we find attractive, what arouses us, and the sort of people we pursue for sexual gratification. This produces a huge spectrum of sexual attraction in the world.
In this light, I think it is important to view same-sex attraction and sexuality as a common part of life. We should not discriminate against, or stigmatize, people who have different attractions from our own, as everyone is in the same boat. I don’t think God judges people on the basis of sexual attraction, and Christians who feel that way are not looking at their own shortcomings and sexual desires and actions.
However, I do not subscribe to the view that God intended for us to have sexual relations with anyone outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. I don’t think anyone can ultimately experience a completely fulfilling love life outside that. I believe that peace and fulfilment in life ultimately come from faith in God and his saving grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus, and that we need to have faith that God’s will for our lives is better than following our own desires. Which is of course no easy thing, but then nothing in life worth achieving is easy.
Saying one is gay is no more meaningful a statement than saying one is a tennis player. It is certainly not akin to talking about one’s weight or the physical nature of one’s body. Activists argue that “being” gay cannot be changed, and if they mean that same sex attraction cannot be changed, then I agree that telling someone not to be attracted to the same sex is a bit like telling someone not to like tennis – you can gradually go off tennis over time, but you can’t instantly not like it because someone sends you to a camp to “cure” you of it, or shames you out of it. On the other hand, nobody makes you play tennis. It’s not compulsory. You can like tennis without engaging in it. In fact, nobody is making you play any sport at all.