I’ve been straight and I’ve been gay, and gay is better.’ Well, the organizers weren't too keen on that sentence and asked her to remove it because it implied that being gay was a choice. To which she responded,
"And for me, it is a choice. I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me. A certain section of our community is very concerned that it not be seen as a choice, because if it’s a choice, then we could opt out. I say it doesn’t matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not."Exsqueeze me?
I have to say I'm impressed, or maybe just intrigued, that she made this statement in such an emphatic way. Way to go, Miran--er, Cynthia. Total applause!
But I am surprised, as this is so not the line of many folks who speak for or on behalf of queer people. I'm looking at you, Gaga. Can I just say that I really hate the song "Born this Way?" First, because I find Lady Gaga simple and disingenuous. Second, and maybe more importantly, because for me it implies that "if we had a choice, we wouldn't be gay" (or, as Gaga sings, Black, white, beige, Chola descent--wtf are these last two?--Lebanese, you're orient !!!) and there's nothing we can do about it so back off. Like her chorus, "ooh, there ain't no other way, baby I was born this way."
Um, actually there is.
You can be "born this way," or have a desire or attraction to the same gender or transgender and never act on it. Or, act on it and never identify as gay, as many of our Republican elected officials have demonstrated. See, lots of choices. And, I'm not knocking these choices, but do know that they are choices. Just as identifying, acting upon said feelings, aligning yourself with, openly loving "your people," and cherishing queer community is. a. choice.
Better yet, it's a decision.
And, I don't care how out you are, as I've said before, I don't know that coming out megaphone-style gets us any closer to ending the oppression of gay folks, which by the way, is hard as f*#@--especially when we internalize the shit. Don't get me wrong, I live a pretty awesome life: I love my woman, work at a place where there are other (actually a majority) of queer folks, have a solid community of lesbians and gay men that I surround myself with, and get to write this blog and other pieces about my love for LGBTQ folks. It's super! I never thought that my life would be this good, really. Growing up as a Black girl and seeing the things that I did, I really didn't see myself living past or even making it to 30. For the first year after that, I didn't know what to do with myself (that's a whole other blogpost).
But even though things are great, I can't say that I dodge being targeted as an out, Black dyke. And I experience these things because of the way that I chose and continue to choose to live my life as a queer person of color: Students who are a little more aggressive and challenging in your direction. Threatening stares when I'm holding hands with my partner on our cross country trips (and, yes even in the Yay Area). Being told recently that I haven't slept with the right man yet. Or, having sneaky feelings come up when I try to do things in my life that only straight women are supposed to do--more on this later--and feeling like maybe I, as a lesbian, shouldn't be doing them. And even though all of this sucks a$$, and not in a good way, I would never change my decision to come out and live and love the life that I have. I would never opt out of being gay. But, let's not pretend that this isn't a decision that I, and many other queer folks, didn't make at some point, regardless of how we were "born," or have lived our lives up to that point. Nor should we overlook that for many it's a decision they (we) make every. single. day.
There really ain't no other way.