Meet Mike Huckabee: 2016 GOP hopeful, former governor of Arkansas, and former pastor. In one of his latest statements, he said that being gay “is akin to choosing to drink alcohol or use profanity.” He also managed to fit “Jew” and “bacon-wrapped shrimp” in the same sentence, which surely is worthy of mention. I don’t usually pay attention to outspoken homophobes like Huckabee. If I did, I wouldn’t have time to do much else. I usually laugh, to be quite honest. Not because I think it’s funny, but more because I think it’s ridiculous. But as I read through his comments, I actually realized that this guy might be screaming something immensely important, but no one is listening. Everyone is too busy laughing. What if he is right? Is homosexuality a choice? I never stopped to consider it, because it’s simply so unthinkable to me. But after really thinking about it, I came to a different conclusion. I was wrong. I was wrong to laugh at these men and women, because they are right. Homosexuality is a choice. But it has nothing to do with genes or biology or any science really. It has to do with the society we live in.
Imagine a young high school boy, 16 years old, and gay. But he hasn’t told anyone yet. He hasn’t told his mother, father, best friend, or even his dog. His most recent Internet searches have been about coming out—how to, whom to, when to. He’s scared out of his mind. He’s scared of rejection. He’s scared of disappointing his right-leaning father. He’s scared people will think less of him. Every day he switches from, “I’m going to do it,” to, “There’s no way in hell I’m going through with this.”
This goes on for what seems like an eternity. He can’t think of anything else. He realizes that once he decides to do it, there’s no going back.
Does this situation sound foreign or unimaginable? I hope not. That’s what probably every single gay teenager goes through before coming out, if they do it. As a straight man, I’ll never truly understand. I can simply imagine. So many decisions he has to make. Whether or not to accept who he is, whether or not to listen to politicians like Huckabee, whether or not to come out, and again, whether or not to accept himself as a gay man, what he’s going to do when people laugh at him at school.
The list goes on. The saddest part about this story—about all the stories—is they don’t all finish with an open closet. Actually, a lot of people never go through with it, and live on their lives.
We live in a society where living a life of lies and denial is actually preferable to being openly gay. Now can you honestly say homosexuality isn’t a choice?
I know the science, I know how genes work, and you probably know a bit of it too. But that doesn’t really change anything. It’s one thing to be sexually attracted to the same sex, but it’s another to be a homosexual individual.
The former consists of chemical reactions happening in the brain. The latter, though, is more social and anthropological.
Being homosexual implies an acceptance of the self, an acceptance of the person that you are. If a woman lives her own life hiding her homosexuality, is she really homosexual? I know she’s attracted to women and she fits the Webster definition, but she’s not allowing herself to be herself. If it is contained within her and never shared, never let out, never accepted, does it even exist? Let’s face it: She has to choose to accept it. Because it’s a choice. And it’s one of the hardest choices a homosexual will have to do in his or her life.
How is that even remotely acceptable? How have so many barriers been put between coming out and living a lie? If you think I’m exaggerating, look beyond your inner circle, beyond college, beyond your state. The United States itself, the land of freedom and opportunity, is plagued by hatred and denial. When people say that homosexuality is a choice, they’re proving their own statement. Just the fact that it is common spread “opinion” proves that homosexuals have to choose to be whom they really are. The worst part is, it becomes truer every time anyone says it.
Every time someone claims that “gays choose to be gay,” they are making it more and more of a reality. And not just those words, but so much that we do. To consider all that we do to add to that burden of decision is simply scary to me. It should be to you, too, and to all of us.
So this is for you, Mike Huckabee. I sympathize with you, for no one listens to what you have to say. No one believes you. But you’re right, Mike. You are so terribly, awfully right.
In the hopes that we one day prove the scientists right.
Featured Image by Francisco Ruela / Heights Graphics