Lifestyle Choice

For those in the LGBTQ community, the use of this term is often associated with a belief that those who act on attractions to those of the same gender have made a rational decision to be attracted to people who share their own gender. To those who experience same-gender attraction, this has felt like a ridiculous proposition - since attraction cannot be simply chosen nor manipulated - and sexual orientation is experienced as something people have chosen to accept about themselves to live a life of integrity with who they are.  

Many LGBTQ individuals also take offense to their same-sex attractions being referred to as the "gay lifestyle", claiming that there is no such thing. They argue that the term, which carries the baggage of its historically pejorative use to describe a life of drug and alcohol abuse and excessive promiscuity, does not accurately reflect the "lifestyle" of all LGBTQ people, in much the same way that there is no "heterosexual lifestyle".

Many religious conservatives would point out that this depiction of their belief is a distortion itself  - which has never been about “choosing a particular attraction” - but instead, choosing how to respond to that attraction - e.g., how to work with it, whether to identify with it and act on it.  

Although disagreement would still remain, that latter position which more closely reflects conservative thinking might open up a more productive conversation about choice and its role in identify formation. To their view, however, it has been politically effective to make the conservative position look untenable and ridiculous. Thus, they do not expect many on the left to pay much attention to what conservatives really believe. In other words, the distortion is actually ‘working’ politically - so why clarify the conversation?


Heidi Weaver-Smith, Jacob Hess

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