So You Were Born This Way…

These lil cats do make a compelling case though...

It doesn’t make you special — no more special than anyone else who was born their “way”. I was born a baby, and that’s about all I can reasonably cop to.  I’m not splitting hairs or creating a distinction where there needn’t be one just cause I can. Instead, I’m scratching at the surface of sexuality here, imagining how basic attraction is sans its cultural and religious filters.

I was interviewed once in late December 2008 about my feelings surrounding then President-elect Obama tapping Rick Warren to give the invocation at his Inauguration. At the time, the Pastor’s views on homosexuality and his support of California’s Proposition 8, which effectively banned gay marriage, made him seem an uncomfortable compromise for such a highly public and political event. You might think all presidential elections are political, and they are, but not like this. The election of Barack Obama was a watershed moment, and the day he selected an anti gay rights evangelical to give his invocation, tempered it a bit. How did I feel, Cheers asked, about the simultaneous election of a Black president, and the passage of Proposition 8? Bittersweet like a mutha fucka, I answered.  A tish more eloquently though, of course.

I didn’t get how voters in California didn’t get what it meant that, as a nation, we’d elected a formerly maligned minority to the highest office in the world. While the American empire might be in decline, it is an empire nonetheless — and for the next four years, it would have a brotha at the helm, and there wasn’t shit you could do about it. Given the history of Black Americans in America, the election of Barack Hussein Obama was definitely cause for celebration. Likewise, the passage of Proposition 8 in Califorinia — presumably the bluest state in the country — spearheaded by minorities and religious officials was cause for the absolute opposite of celebration. It stung. In fact, it still stings.  You could expect that gay marriage would hang in the balance in certain states, but not in California.  Naw, not you, baby.

Whenever the subject of gay rights comes up, supporters levy their most effective argument — I was born this way — against what, in essence, amounts to homophobia. But homophobia isn’t a tangible excuse for acting like an asshole, ladies and gentlemen. There’s nothing, for example, to “fear” from a gay person. Of course, “a gay” may harbor some fucked up traits, like everyone does. But it makes no sense that the mere quality of being gay should arouse “fear” like it does. Gays aren’t naturally given to shanking fools, or going upside heads.  I’d argue that, stripped of our various social and cultural/traditional indoctrinations, what we fear instead is that which is unknown or unfamiliar to us.

Which brings me closer to my point. So, during the course of the interview, Cheers asked why I shunned the “lesbian” label. I’ve had similar conversations with a few of my friends over the years, who seem insistent on placing sexuality, and me for that matter, into a neatly compartmentalized box. “So you like girls? Don’t that make you gay? So you must be bi then? Oh, you’re so ambiguous. Or you’re just greedy.” Nope, it’s simpler than that.  I like what I like.

In previous blogs, I don’t really address the ambivalence I feel about the term “gay.” I understand that people need something they can latch onto, so I use the label indiscriminately without much personal offense. However, eventually I like to bring folks a little closer to discomfort with what they think they “know.” In my own adventures, I take the Kinsey Scale approach to human sexuality, defining sexuality within a range of 0-6 — with 0 being exclusively “straight,” and 6 being exclusively “gay.” In my experience, I’ve found that more people than I would’ve suspected fall somewhere within that spectrum at various points in their lives. At the same time, I know that most folks would argue me to the death proclaiming their ZEE-ROH status. And I’d appreciate their position, but I’d definitely have my doubts.  I live this life, remember?  I know well how gay y’all are when you think no one’s looking.

Before you commence to protesting too much, insisting that you loooooove your opposite-gender-sex part-pejorative, understand that I’m not suggesting that you can’t love peen and punanny as much as you claim to. But that given a unique circumstance, and a unique individual, your human sexuality might be more fluid than fixed. You ever hold conversations with gay people? Or does what you “had heard about them” substitute for what you know about them? I suspect that if you found yourself engaged in a few gay fireside chats, you’d be made aware that many gay men weren’t actually born in a cloud of pixie dust, nor were the world’s great lezzies born wearing lil plaid diapers and sweater vests. In fact, for many, the taste of gay was an acquired one — which, upon further investigation, turned out to be just as natural as if you’d been tasting it since day one.

Was the pun too much? It’s ok. You’ll feel better about it soon enough.

So then gay rights aren’t “special” rights, per se, because being gay aint nothin special. No matter what “way” you or I was born, we were born human beings.  That alone is “special,” and guarantees us the right to be treated just like everyone else — no more, no less.  I also think it necessary to disabuse this notion of gay and straight, and how we arrived at our particular station.  There is no doubt that many a muhfukka don’t dabble in same-sex attractions, not even hypothetically.  In other cases, however, cats be mad straight until they aint — until they find themselves catching feelings they aint even supposed to be susceptible to.

I read or heard or saw something that said, “if everyone who was gay would just come out….” I don’t remember the rest because it doesn’t matter.  If cats just “came out” as whoever they were or are, then that which we don’t know becomes far less sinister, less scary, less odd, less “unnatural.”  If instead of beating yourself up about your biological process, you could embrace it.  You didn’t have to be “gay,” you could just follow your heart or your loins because there is no judgement here , then what would that look like?  For you personally?  For society at large?  Would it then matter how you were born?  If everybody who gets to be born has a shot at being someone or doing something remarkable, wouldn’t you rather be judged by what you did with the life you got?  Instead of being hamstrung for life before yours even began?

Either way, being born gay or straight is a ridiculous argument to attempt.  It allows room for lazy socialization and judgement.  People aren’t cardboard cutouts of each other; each of us brings something unique to the table.  Thus, the quality of being gay is no different from the quality of being left-handed.  In time, lefties got around the dumbed-down explanations of their anomaly, and started lobbying for scissors and desks and shit that fit them.  They didn’t whine that they were born this way; they insisted that the right-handed world make room for them, regardless of how they were born.  Or their degree of “queerness.”

See what I did there?

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About moniquealicia

M.A.G. is a doctoral student at Howard University. She resides in the Washington, DC metro area, and is passionate about her love of family and friends, politics and conversation, and the exceptional meal. View all posts by moniquealicia

2 responses to “So You Were Born This Way…

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