Choosing to be a lesbian

At my fiancée’s family cookout last month, someone asked me,

When did you become a lesbian?

I gave the stock answer:

I didn’t become a lesbian. I was born this way. Nobody would choose to become a lesbian.

And that’s true: Nobody would choose to be a closeted lesbian in a heterosexual world dominated by the intolerant. From my own history, I know that a teenage girl or high-school-educated woman in a remote farm or town would not be likely to choose to be a lesbian.

The firebrand conservatives say that’s a good thing. Decriminalization, social acceptance, legal equality – make it easier to be a homosexual, encourage the spread of homosexuality.


There’s a joke:

Two guys are out golfing. A bolt of lightning kills them. At the Pearly Gates, St Peter is befuddled: These two guys weren’t supposed to die today.

St Peter says he has to send them back. As compensation for their trouble, they get to choose who they want to go back as. The two guys huddle, then come back.

Two guys: We want to be lesbians.

St Peter: Lesbians? Why lesbians?

Two guys: We still want to have sex with women, but we want to use the ladies’ tees.


That joke gives me a warm smile.

Loving a woman is glorious. Absolutely, utterly glorious. I love everything about it, about her.


Of course, I love a woman because I was born this way. I never got the chance to choose to become a lesbian.

But, now, I am glad I was born this way.

I would choose to be a lesbian.

In that sense – and in the sense that I have chosen to come out, chosen to meet a woman and fall in love with her, chosen to ask her to marry me, chosen to accept her request that I marry her – I have chosen to be a lesbian.


There was a time, and there are places, where no one would choose to be a lesbian.

Not New York, of course.

Not back home, either – at least, not for my fiancée or me. Conservative Christians and Mormons may disapprove, may even tell me that I’m going to Hell. That doesn’t bother me. I’ve dealt with much worse disapproval and heard a lot worse things said about me – for things that I have chosen. There’s not much that they can do to us beyond tut-tut.

I can live happily and openly with the woman I love.

I choose to be what I am: A lesbian.

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22 thoughts on “Choosing to be a lesbian

  1. Amen! I came out in a tiny town (population 3000) when I was 17 years old. It was awful & difficult and heartbreaking. But I chose to be who I am openly, without shame. And I’m so glad I did. I love being a woman who loves women and wouldn’t change it for anything!

    Liked by 2 people

    • It took me a lot longer, it took getting out of a small town, and it took falling in love with a (truly) unique woman. But now that I’m here, you hit the nail on the head: I love being a woman who loves a woman. And the icing in the cake is that she loves being a woman who loves a woman.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It doesn’t matter, and it is nobody else’s business.

      To religious conservatives who make it their business, however, “I was born this way” can be a powerful argument: If we are all created in His image, and He created me this way, then His image includes my lesbianism.

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    • PS: I can understand the young lesbians’ horror. Self-acceptance – and beyond that, comfort with one’s self – takes time. Perhaps it takes fully coming out – to oneself and others – and finding one’s place, to gain the perspective that it doesn’t matter.

      I didn’t mention another reason why one might not choose to be a lesbian: The smaller pool of potential mates. My fiancée makes it easy to say that I love being a lesbian. I’ve never dated, but if the internet is to be believed, it’s a jungle out there.

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        • I agree, but I am much more optimistic.

          40 years ago, the American Psychiatric Association definitively declared that homosexuality is a mental disorder. Consensual acts between adults in their own home were illegal almost everywhere. Sodomy laws were only overturned in 2002. Homosexual acts were criminal under military law until last year.

          And now I can marry the girl of my dreams.

          I see this so starkly when I go home. My home state adopted a ban on gay marriage by a two-to-one vote. Yet, in the most conservative part of one of the most conservative states in the US, I’m treated with respect. As I’ve said, the major battle is won when people come to see us as fellow humans. And I think that is happening.

          Yes, there are huge areas where there’s a lot of intolerance and even outright bigotry. Yes, there are assholes like the Westboro Baptist Church. But it’s funny: The Westboro Baptist Church has done more for acceptance of gays in my home state than all the Pride marches, Supreme Court victories and anti-discrimination statutes put together. Why? Because however large their voyeuristic interest in somebody else’s bedroom, people hate assholes even more.

          (I hear Mother telling me to wash out my mouth with soap …)

          We’re still a long way from the Jubilee. But two years ago, I was deeply in the closet because my Mother would never accept that I am gay – or so I thought. Now my Mother is calling out ignorant bigots. It’s enough acceleration to snap one’s head back.

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  2. I love this post. It so closely mirrors my own process regarding whether I would choose to be a lesbian. (For the record, I totally would. And maybe I would have from the start, but 50 years ago? 100? In a family less loving and supportive than my own? Maybe not.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Family is critical. I remember when I first realized – as a frightened teenager – that that this thing would keep me from ever being happy. I pray that someday soon, even a teenager in the heart of the Bible Belt can say to herself, “I love that I’m a woman who loves women.”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have actually thought I have chosen to be lesbian all along. And I’m really happy about the choice. I think the choice should be available to everyone, if they would like. I also think some people are probably born LGBTQ, or anywhere on the spectrum of sexuality, and I think that’s perfectly fine, as well!

    Liked by 1 person

      • One of the pernicious problems in science (and in any endeavor based on observation) is confirmation bias: One tends to see data that supports one’s hypothesis, but not data that doesn’t support one’s hypothesis. (Which is why one of the mantras of good science is, “Don’t confuse anecdote with data.”)

        When I started this post, my first thought was: “Of course you’d choose it; you’re wired to choose it. What’s more, it’s brought you the first real joy of your adult life.” I had to do a lot of soul-searching to convince myself that my choice isn’t just confirmation of the joy my fiancée brings me.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am admittedly biased for having grown up in a world where being queer was not so frowned upon as it is elsewhere, and have no experience in small town, rural, or conservatively religious upbringing, but I rather despise the “no one would choose to be gay” response, in part because it discredits my own experience as a bisexual woman. I wrote about that in this post, which I post here not to counter what you say in this post–absolutely I do not want to downplay or discredit your experience!–but to share my own experience, as well as the experience of a commenter who noted that living outside the hetero norm allows us to confront many of the gender stereotypes that are inherent in society’s conception of marriage and/or parenting. However you get there, though, it’s powerful stuff, embracing a nontraditional path. Thanks for posting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the comment.

      That’s of course why I limited “No one would choose …” to closeted gays in isolated areas rife with intolerance – as I was until less than a year ago. It’s also why my answer to that question changed so dramatically in the few months since I fell in love, came out of the closet and moved to New York.

      I don’t discredit your experience; it’s a different experience. Nor do I discredit bisexuality, any more than I discredit heterosexuality. I’m glad you can choose – freedom to choose is a good thing. I can’t choose.

      I recall reading your post. It was enlightening, particularly the oddity of being perceived as either fully straight or fully lesbian depending on who you are with.

      The lesbians I know are a decent bunch. Don’t feel too insulted to be lumped in with us!

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      • Not insulted at all! Just a little…limited. Reminds me a bit of trying to be out while single, actually. I appreciate the observation about being labeled based on one’s relationship with/to another person. I think that’s frustrating across the board!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Pride: A paradox | Family Values Lesbian

  6. Reblogged this on Traditionalist homo and commented:
    I thank this post’s author deeply for this piece. Because no matter if you think your homosexual attractions is a choice or not (some people do, http://www.queerbychoice.com/ is an example), one has to admit that homosexual activity is a choice. And all gay people have at one point in their lives made a moral choice. We’ve decided for ourselves that no, we aren’t AIDS-spreading childmolesters, and yes, two women and two men can surely love each other just as mom and dad did. That it wasn’t immoral for two women or two women to express their love for each other in a sexual way. That no, lesbians aren’t just cute lil’ besties, and no, gay men are not just fuckbuddies.
    Homosexual activity is not (unpopular opinion alert) a civil right. Sex is not a civil right. Nor is romanticism. The debate about homosexuality started out as a pretty normal debate about not a psychological phenomenon, but an act, because every moron can see that just because you have a feeling it doesn’t mean you ought to act on it.We are moralists. We are not poor little souls who just “can’t help it” -if we believed being gay was immoral, we would’ve been in conversion theraphy right now.
    And yes, there are plenty of people who do choose to be gay every single day. Even if you don’t believe in queer by choice people, which is horribly ignorant of you, then you must still admit that bisexual people exists, and that many of them choose to pursue same-sex relationships.

    Like

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