Is Being Gay a Choice?

The New Statesman, a UK current affairs magazine asked me to write a short article on the topic of being gay–is it a choice or not? I said it is not a choice which they were pleased about because they found someone who said that it IS a choice (turns out they tapped Richard Cohen for the job).

In my piece I draw on some of the science as well as my own experience as a gay man.

Being gay myself, many folks consider me an expert on all things gay. Did Alexander the great have a male lover? What does the Bible say about homosexuality? For my bay window, should I use lace or chintz curtains?

As a gay theatrical performance activist, the most common question I get is: “how old are you?”

Such a rude question, but completely understandable because of my wild past including the 17-year quest to transform myself into a heterosexual with side trips to Zambia, England, and Ecuador plus a five year marriage. They look at my fresh, young face and wonder ‘how did you do all that?’ I explain that I am a 42-year-old, non-smoking vegan who moisturizes (It is never too young to start!).

The second most common question I get is: “do people choose to be gay?”

You can read the rest for yourself. And just like I didn’t choose to be gay, I didn’t choose the title for the piece, I am what I am and it is not a choice. Oh, and you HAVE to listen to the audio link just to hear how the electronic voice pronounces the word homosexual.

This post has 11 Comments

  1. ElliotManning on July 20, 2007 at 7:34 pm Reply

    And just like I didn’t choose to be gay, I didn’t choose the title for the piece, I am what I am and it is not a choice. Hehe, how witty you are!

    Two questions, related to that:
    1. Why didn’t you get to choose the title?
    2. If you could go back and rename it officially, what would you call it?

  2. Jarred on July 20, 2007 at 7:53 pm Reply

    I believe in most situations, the editor of the publication chooses the titles. So it’s pretty typical.

    Often times, even book titles are chosen by the publisher rather than the author.

    Good article, Peter.

  3. Steve Boese on July 20, 2007 at 7:58 pm Reply

    Good work!

    I found it interesting that Cohen manages to plug 2 books and a seminar in the course of 7-paragraph piece.

    Gee, I wonder which of the two of you is financially dependent on having people “buy” your stories?

  4. Peterson Toscano on July 20, 2007 at 8:00 pm Reply

    Elliot, I usually come up with good titles (example: Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House, The Re-Education of George W. Bush and How the Indians Discovered America).

    In this case I was in a rush and didn’t even think of a title. If I could choose one…hmm,
    How about?
    Choosing Sanity not Sexuality.

    Jarred, yeah, I think that is true in most cases and they can be incredibly uninspired and insipid and sometimes they can be stellar.
    -Peterson

  5. Christine Bakke on July 20, 2007 at 10:27 pm Reply

    Hey, at least it wasn’t titled, “They tried to cure me of being gay!”

    😉

  6. Barry on July 21, 2007 at 1:38 am Reply

    Excellent article. The key word regarding your “choice” is “authentic” (“Instead I chose to be authentic…”). That’s me as well. I want to be authentic as the gay Christian man that I am.

    One other point regardng sibling studies, you wrote, “the more brothers in a family, the higher the chance that the youngest ones will be gay.” Well, I am the youngest of four of my father’s offspring (all boys), although by two different moms. In this case the study holds true. I, as the yongest son, am gay, while the other three are heterosexual.

  7. ElliotManning on July 21, 2007 at 1:47 am Reply

    Yup. I definitely like your title better.

    But, then again, you are a rockstar. Of course you’d be able to come up with good titles. And you are [able to]! 😀 You quirky creative queer Quaker, you!

  8. Daniel C on July 21, 2007 at 6:48 am Reply

    Haha! I don’t agree Peterson. I am not saying that I choosed to be gay (do we ever really choose anything in that manner, especially when it comes to love…)
    And you told me to continue to disagree with you. But THIS discussion we have to have face to face

  9. Daniel C on July 21, 2007 at 6:49 am Reply

    sorry.. I meant “didn’t choose to be gay”

  10. M on July 21, 2007 at 3:21 pm Reply

    Love it.

  11. PW on July 21, 2007 at 4:28 pm Reply

    Excellent article Peterson!

    The answers are…
    1. Probably
    2. Very little.
    3. Curtains are out, mini-blinds are in.
    I will however defer to your ‘expertise’…;-D

    Or you may have to defer to mine, I’m a year older than you are!

    As for my secrets…non-smoking is one of them, but as for moisturizer, well the oily skin that was the bane of my existence while a teenager is now a blessing. But I’ll close, after all, this is Peterson’s blog and I wouldn’t want to outshine him. I’m so modest and deferential…haha…

    As always, cheering you on from the sidelines.

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