A popular argument among many conservatives is that being LGBT is a “choice.” It’s not.
Science has shown people are born LGBT, but try telling that to someone who denies science at every turn. Evolution is a myth, climate change is a liberal plot, stem cell research does not have any positive use, it goes on and on. But let’s set aside the scientific proof, and look at this from a different perspective. And for that, you will need to imagine you are a 12-year-old kid.
Your 12-year-old self is walking through the woods, and as you round the path, you come upon a signpost at a fork in the road. Just a wooden signpost, slightly worn, with two placards on top. One placard points east, and reads “STRAIGHT.” The other placard points west, and reads “LGBT.” Underneath each placard is a brochure. The “STRAIGHT” brochure is thin, perhaps three pages, while the “LGBT” brochure is more like a book. Because you are 12, you grab the thin brochure first, and begin reading.
If your 12-year-old self chooses to be straight, you will most likely never be bullied for being so. You can’t be fired for being straight. You can walk down the street, holding hands with your inamorata, and not worry about being called names, or being attacked. You can shop anywhere you want. You can travel anywhere you want. You will not be beaten up, or killed, for being straight. And if you decide to get married, you can have the ceremony in a church.
Huh, you think, straight sounds pretty cool.
You hang the brochure back up on the signpost, and take the one that reads “LGBT.” This brochure is very different.
This brochure tells you there are over 70 countries where, if you are LGBT, you can be imprisoned or even executed by the government. You read about Matthew Shepard, you read the horrific statistics about murdered African-American transgender women. You learn there are Christian pastors, right here in the United States, who tell their flocks LGBT people should be killed, or put behind electric fences and left to die.
You read about the kids, some your own age, who are bullied to the point where they take their own lives. You learn there are politicians who call LGBT people abominations, evil, and compare gay men to child molesters. You learn about states that allow you to be fired, or denied services like therapy, adoption, medical attention, even food, if you are LGBT. You learn about ISIS, who throw gay men off rooftops. You learn parents often throw their own LGBT children onto the street.
Your 12-year-old self puts the LGBT brochure back with shaking hands. You look to the east path, the “STRAIGHT” path, then to the west path, the “LGBT” path. The choice is clear: If you want to live a safe life, free from hate, violence, and bigotry, if you want to have more opportunities, you must choose to be straight. Because to choose the “LGBT” path would mean you can be jailed or executed in other countries, your parents could throw you out of the house, you might get killed, you can be bullied relentlessly without anyone caring. So your 12-year-old self chooses to be straight, and travels east.
In order to believe this-that being LGBT is a choice-one must come to the conclusion that every LGBT person is a masochist. That they want to suffer discrimination, bullying, bigotry, hate, violence, and often death at the hands of another. One must believe those African-American transgender women wanted to meet a violent end. One must believe LGBT people want to be fired, or jailed, or told they should be killed. One must believe LGBT people want to live a lesser life than heterosexuals.
That, of course, is patently false. LGBT people want the right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness just like everyone else. They simply want to live their lives in peace, free to love their partner, free to go to work, or dine in a restaurant, or order a wedding cake, or travel the world, secure in the knowledge they will not meet with hate, or violence. If conservatives who believe being LGBT is a choice ever stopped and really thought about it, they would realize that no one chooses a life where you are vilified, discriminated against, bullied, harassed, and possibly murdered, simply for being who you are.
If you are LGBT, and need resources or help, please visit the links below.
The Trevor Project (LGBT youth)