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Does it really matter if being gay is a choice?

We're using the wrong language

When asked whether or not he believed homosexuality could be cured by prayer and counseling, Texas Governor Rick Perry made the statement, "I may have the genetic coding that I'm inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way." But here's the thing, Gov. Perry: Not only is it a warped way of thinking to compare homosexuality to a disease, it's also pointless to use words like "inclined" and "desire" to begin with. Here's why.

Nothing makes me roll my eyes faster than the phrase "homosexuality gene." While I am certainly curious as to whether or not such a gene exists, I am not interested in hearing this phrase used in a discussion about gay rights. Why? Because, first of all, homosexuals are not lab rats or mysterious creatures that must be observed and studied in order for other people to understand them. And secondly, because it really shouldn't matter if a person is "inclined" to be homosexual or not — especially when it comes to gay rights.

Before going further, let me say this: I am not a lesbian. I like men. I like them tall. I like them handsome and strong and preferably with dark hair and blue eyes. That's my "type," you could safely say. Sure, I think other women are beautiful. In fact, I often find myself envious of features other women have that I personally lack — maybe they're taller than me, prettier, skinnier, or they have a nicer smile — but in no way am I attracted to them sexually. I "desire" men. Whether or not I'm genetically programmed to desire men instead of women, I don't know; I desire men, regardless. End of story.

I'm also an imaginative person, and when it comes to the topic of gay rights, I often find myself wondering what it would be like to be in a gay man's or a lesbian's position. How would it feel to have actual laws dictating who I could or couldn't marry? How might I react if someone told me that being attracted to men was an "inclination" that I should learn to overcome? I have come to the conclusion that, if roles were reversed, I too would find this to be unfair. Furthermore, I would not change who I am — genetically programmed or not — to accommodate others who simply have different coding or preferences than I do. Why should I? I like men, and nothing anyone says is going to change that. I'm just not attracted to women. And guess what? Gay men are not attracted to women, either. Lesbians are not attracted to men. Nothing anyone says will ever change that. So, why are we complicating things with all of this talk about genes and inclinations when it doesn't even matter?

We're using the wrong language, and it's sending the wrong message. Homosexuality is not a disease. It isn't something that needs to be cured or restrained or overcome. It is a preference — just like dark-haired, blue-eyed men are a preference of mine. And if I wouldn't give up my own preferences just to be culturally accepted, then how could it ever be OK for me to ask someone else to give up theirs? Share this article if you agree.

Read more on gay rights

Why you should care about LGBT issues as a straight woman
GLAAD study finds rise in gay and lesbian characters on TV
Celebrities speak out on gay marriage

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