Who cares if we’re “born this way” (besides GaGa)

Posted on July 20, 2011


Who cares if we’re “born this way” — and who decides if it matters? — Feministe.  and this article mentions questionable .. motives? questionable energy, anyway.  And before I get freaked out on by all the little monsters, I don’t think she’s just in it for the money.  That song has always felt mostly off to me though. Except for once when I was ridiculously drunk in the Castro and I loved it. Because everyone else loved it.  Conformist? haha ANYways…

The argument that same-sex attraction and gender nonconformity are choices, or pathologies resulting from poor parenting, trauma, or moral failure, has long been a weapon of those who would deny LGBTQ folks civil rights, legal protections, and basic respect. Homosexuality has been medicalized as a mental illness for much of recent history; “therapeutic” ex-gay programs still exist and do considerable psychological damage to this day. It only makes sense that we would fight back by attempting to prove that sexual orientation and/or gender nonconformity are biological traits we’re born with and can’t control. Indeed, studies have tentatively suggested that there may be biological, and even genetic, components to sexual orientation.

It is sociologically irresponsible to present the “born this way” meme without acknowledging this historical context. And the FDR argument is just silly. Presenting a picture of a boy in a dress as evidence that breaking gender norms doesn’t necessarily indicate homosexuality, even though male children wearing dresses didn’t constitute breaking gender norms at the time the photograph was taken, doesn’t even follow its own logic.

(And, by the way: Some gay men really are effeminate, some lesbians really are masculine, and some people really experience those traits as being connected. We do everyone a disservice to suggest that their experiences don’t deserve visibility.)

I found both posts to be short-sighted, condescending, and generally offensive, as a furious comment I left on the second one (in which I accused Lisa of “harping” — admittedly not my finest moment) can attest. But Lisa is hardly the first person to condemn LGBTQ people’s interest in biological determinism, nor is she the first to lecture LGBTQ folks on how to go about our own business.

Rather than spend any more time picking apart Lisa’s argument, however, I’m here to suggest that there may be something more going on when LGBTQ people explore our pasts — something that we miss if we limit ourselves to a simplistic, literal understanding of the “born this way” phenomenon.


But I am invested in constructing a queer identity. That changes everything. These bits and pieces are meaningful parts of my queer development because I say they are. Reclaiming my past as a queer past is itself a part of my queer experience. And if other LGBTQ folks share this desire to construct queer personal histories, then perhaps that practice would make a meaningful and productive subject of sociological analysis.

FUCK YES!  i don’t know why i’m still somewhat surprised at how emphatically i love some of the posts (most of the posts) over at feministe. The whole article is amazing. read it!