In a piece at The Atlantic, Lindsay Miller suggests this week that she is “queer by choice,” making the case that whether or not she was “born this way” shouldn’t be the deciding factor for whether she deserves to have her same-sex relationship recognized. As Equality Matters pointed out, the National Organization for Marriage lifted one sentence from the column to promote the idea that homosexuality is chosen. The Family Research Council and American Family Association (both hate groups) also pounced on it earlier this week for the same reason. Miller’s argument is problematic and confusing because she completely discounts her bisexuality — a word she never even uses:
In direct opposition to both the mainstream gay movement and Lady Gaga, I would like to state for the record that I was not born this way. I have dated both men and women in the past, and when I’ve been with men, I never had to lie back and think of Megan Fox. I still notice attractive men on the street and on television. If I were terrified of the stigma associated with homosexuality, it would have been easy enough to date men exclusively and stay in the closet my whole life.
Miller’s argument isn’t totally invalid. As someone with attractions to both men and women, it is true that she could have chosen not to ever act on her same-sex attractions. That, however, doesn’t mean she chose any of her attractions. Her rhetoric actually sounds reminiscent of many ex-gay narratives, such as that of Janet Boynes, “friend” of Michele and Marcus Bachmann. Boynes claims she is “a former lesbian,” despite acknowledging she has always had attractions to men. Miller similarly argues that she “chose” to have a lesbian relationship, essentially coming out the other end from Boynes.
But bisexuals who commit to a monogamous relationship don’t suddenly stop being bisexual. That’d be as absurd an idea as assuming that anybody who enters a monogamous relationship suddenly stops having attractions for any other people. By claiming that she “chose” her orientation (as opposed to simply choosing her partner), Miller is fueling the fire of ex-gay ideology that is at the root of all opposition to gay rights. Why else would NOM, AFA, and FRC all cite her column? Her goal is admirable — it shouldn’t matter where a person’s attractions come from — but by erasing bisexuality she is doing as much harm is good.
A person’s sexual orientation, regardless of its breadth, is enduring and cannot be chosen. Anybody who suggests otherwise is distorting reality.