COLUMN: Being gay is not a choice

Monday, November 1, 2010 | 12:33 p.m. CDT; updated 5:41 p.m. CDT, Monday, November 1, 2010

It’s almost 2011 and I can’t believe I have to write this out, but I want to make this 100 percent crystal clear to everyone in the world right now:

Being gay is not a choice.

There you have it. Perhaps you just learned something new. Maybe you already knew this; I certainly hope you did.

There is an overwhelming amount of people out there who think being gay is a choice. I cringe for humanity every time I hear it.

If you’re straight and think being gay is a choice, may I pose some questions to you?

When did you realize you were straight? Did you ever make the concrete decision to be straight? Do you wake up every day and have to make the decision to step out the door and only be attracted to the opposite sex? Doesn’t all of this sound silly?

On top of that, with the recent amount of publicized gay suicides from bullying, do you honestly believe the students would continue to “choose” to be gay even under extreme pressure and harassment from fellow students? Let’s get real here.

I’m a 22-year-old gay man, and I’ve been gay for every day of those 22 years. It might have taken me about 13 years to figure it out, but I was always gay.

For us, homosexuality isn’t just a switch we flip on and off. It operates just like heterosexuality. It’s hard to explain, but you know that feeling you get when you see a beautiful person of the opposite sex and you admire him or her for his or her beauty? You never wonder why you’re attracted to the opposite sex by instinct. You just are. It’s the same way for homosexuals. There’s no explaining the attraction to the same sex. It just happens.

I can’t believe I’m explaining this, but it’s necessary.

  • What will eternally plague me about the gay marriage debate is the fact that the people who oppose it are straight. Has anyone ever heard to "step down if it’s not your fight"? Well, gay marriage isn’t in straight people’s interest, so why are they so interested in opposing it? Yikes, I’ll never understand it. But for all the straight people fighting for us – I can’t thank you enough.
  • A so-called “gay gene” hasn't been proven yet, but I absolutely believe it exists. If it didn’t exist, why would I have a gay brother? Why would two brothers I went to high school with both be gay? Ever heard of the gay brothers study?
  • I must admit I’m glad a "gay gene" hasn’t been discovered yet because then we’d have an X-Men situation on our hands. People would want to cure homosexuality as if it were a terrible disease. What if someone tried to cure your heterosexuality? Or your skin color? If being gay were indeed a disease, it would be the most fabulous disease to ever walk this planet.
  • Don’t worry, we won’t spread gayness to your kids if they’re around us. We might teach them to dress better or to be more accepting of others, but we won’t transfer homosexuality onto them like a sickness.
  • On the subject of children, all gay men are not child molesters. That’s like saying all Muslims are terrorists. Why do we let a few bad examples define an entire demographic?
  • And straight guys, don't flatter yourselves. Being a gay man does not automatically make us attracted to every guy on the planet. We have standards, too. I have a lot of straight guy friends, and I'm not attracted to the majority of them. Some - yes, most - no. A straight guy isn't attracted to every single woman he sees on the street, is he?
  • On a related note, it is a terrible feeling to be attracted to someone you know you will never ever have a chance with. Imagine if the majority of the people you realistically wanted to pursue a relationship with automatically had zero interest in you. Yeah, that's kind of how being gay feels.

Gay people come in all shapes and sizes. I, for one, do fall into some of the popular gay stereotypes. I dress well, I’m a shoe addict, and I have an undying love for all things Gaga. I also enjoy a good day with my .45 at the range (if you couldn’t tell by my last column), and I am a marathoner of video games. I used to be a security guard, too.

I didn’t choose to be gay; none of us did.

I have a theory that when you die you have a selection of whom you want to be in your next life. If I were given the choice, I’d be a gay man every time. Despite the struggles and misunderstandings, I’ve learned a lot about people from being gay. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and I don’t think any other gay person should either. Be proud of who you are. You’re not any less of a person despite the signals our government and some of our peers send us. And don’t ever let anyone tell you differently.

If you already knew everything up there that you just read through, I apologize. The message clearly wasn’t for you. But you can help to spread it. 

Parents who have brought up their children with the notion that being gay is a choice are wrong. And kids believe almost anything parents tell them. I'm not mad at the parents for not knowing the truth; I'm irritated that some of them don't accept it. It is jarring to figure out something you believed your whole life is wrong, but it happens.

If any readers have questions about homosexuality, please comment below or find me on Twitter. I would gladly write another column answering any questions about homosexuality. No matter how foolish a question seems, don't be afraid to ask.

Corey Motley is a columnist for the Columbia Missourian, reviews video games for Vox and blogs about them on He's an avid Twitter user under the name coreymotley.

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Claire Stuckel November 1, 2010 | 4:28 p.m.

I think this column is great!

(Report Comment)
Michelle Hagopian November 1, 2010 | 7:03 p.m.

Amen. Kudos Corey, you're right on the money.

(Report Comment)
Larry Nossaman November 1, 2010 | 10:10 p.m.

Corey, I believe the question of whether people have a choice to be gay or not has not yet been determined by scientists.

Regardless, whether we view ourselves as homosexual or heterosexual, we DO have a choice of whether, and then when, where and with whom to have sexual relations (setting aside the issue of rape, etc.). It's called self control. According to the Bible, the only acceptable sexual relationship is between a man and woman who are married to each other. Even heterosexual men and women sometimes find it difficult to maintain that self control, but it is possible.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance November 1, 2010 | 10:18 p.m.
This comment has been removed.
John Schultz November 1, 2010 | 10:46 p.m.

And there's compassionate liberalism in a nutshell.

(Report Comment)
Gregory Brown November 2, 2010 | 9:25 a.m.

Corey, this is a remarkably clear and calm statement of both facts and informed opinions. Thanks for writing it. I hope it puts things in perspective for a few people. But, as we know, some folks are set up to respond negatively to almost anything sexual, and anything out of the heterosexual range stirs up the hornets. Keep up the efforts.

(Report Comment)
Laura Blair November 2, 2010 | 11:00 a.m.

Corey, well said! I'm so sorry that there are so many people who can't see past their personal biases. You have articulated well what many of my LGBT friends have said has been their personal experience.

(Report Comment)
Robert Partyka November 2, 2010 | 3:28 p.m.

Cool column Corey. And that's great Larry, good thing most of us don't really care. I do believe Cory was attempting to discuss the ignorant view that many Americans hold when it comes to homosexuality, not whether or not he is living by the words of the bible, but good try! Speaking of off-topic rants, has anyone seen Ray Shapiro? He should be here soon...

(Report Comment)
Kat Terry November 2, 2010 | 7:47 p.m.

I was directed to your article by a mutual acquaintance, and I really enjoyed reading it. Your conversational style of writing is clear and entertaining.

My only complaint (and it is a small complaint) has been better expressed by a friend who runs a site called Queer by Choice. She writes on her website: "[I]t's insulting to all queers that the mainstream queer movement (especially in the United States) argues in court on a regular basis that the REASON people have a right to be queer is that we supposedly CAN'T HELP IT. That is not the reason that anyone has the right to be queer. The reason everyone has the right to be queer is that everyone has the right to control their own mind and body unless it infringes on anyone else's right to control their mind and body." And I concur.

However, I want to thank you for writing this article. It is my experience and the experience of most LGBT individuals that we cannot help who we love, and I hope you've caused a few people to think twice about condemning us.

(Report Comment)
Traci Sykes November 2, 2010 | 10:38 p.m.

Great job Corey!! I loved reading this article. The only choice that matters is how you handle people and thier ignorance. You my friend have handled them very well. I am so happy that there are wonderful people like you out there that are not afraid to lay it all on the line and say what they feel.

(Report Comment)
Joanne DeVilbiss November 4, 2010 | 1:30 p.m.

I am proud of you Corey!!!You wrote a great article. Hopefully it will encourage folks to tackle their ignorance and complacency to understand sexual orientation is NOT a choice!! Our family has been on a journey with our gay son.
This journey was rocky for awhile, but turned out to be beautiful. One thing it taught us is that "all" are of God's creation and are children of God.
His gift to us, being gay, has given us a challenge to remove homophobia and any other kind of prejudice. Plus, we have opportunities to become friends with these beautiful people!!

(Report Comment)
Brenda Motley November 4, 2010 | 11:21 p.m.

Corey, this is a fantastic column! I am so proud of you for writing it because you hit the nail right on the head. Unfortunately there are those ignorant people that believe it is a choice to be gay, Larry. It is sad and heartbreaking to think you would CHOOSE to be made fun of, beaten to death, or bullied at school to the point of suicide, even being disowned by your own family. For what, being gay? You are an amazing young man and a talented writer. I am a mother of two boys who are both gay, and if I was given a choice, I would have gay sons every time. I thank God everyday that you and your brother are happy, healthy, loved, and accepted by me and your dad.

(Report Comment)
Joanne DeVilbiss November 5, 2010 | 9:40 a.m.

Brenda, Your words are powerful and I agree totally. As you have done, I believe one of the most important thing we can do as parents of LGBTQ children is to "come out" as parents.
Doing this for our son made a significant impact on how he accepted himself. And it also was very liberating for our family. Unfortunately this does not always happen.
How can we expect our gay children to accept them self totally, if we are unable to do so. Thank you again Corey, for you powerful article.

(Report Comment)
Shelley Powers November 5, 2010 | 10:53 a.m.

An excellent article. Very well said.

(Report Comment)

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