"Ex-Gays" | Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. | Religion

Gay Christian Apologist Stirs Controversy By Calling LGBT Identity A Choice

In the New Republic this week, gay Christian apologist  Brandon Ambrosino penned an article entitled, “I Wasn't Born This Way. I Choose to Be Gay: Macklemore sends the wrong LGBT message in 'Same Love.’”

AmbrisinoIn it, Ambrosino suggests that the gay rights movement stop focusing solely on being “born this way," “to stop fearing the word ‘choice,’ and to reclaim the dignity of sexual autonomy.” He continues:

“Many people do feel as if their sexuality is something they were born with, and I have no reason to disbelieve them. But as I and other queer persons will readily confirm, there are other factors informing our sexualities than simply our genetic codes…

“The aversion to that word (“choice”) in our community stems from belief that if we can’t prove that our gayness is biologically determined, then we won’t have grounds to demand equality… I see no reason to believe that the only sexualities worth protecting are the ones over which one has no control. After all, isn’t trans activism fueled by the belief that the government has the responsibility to protect all of us regardless of our sexual choices? And aren’t protections for bisexuals based upon the same presupposition of sexual autonomy? Perhaps the L and G factions of our community would do well to follow the political lead of the Bs and Ts on this issue…”

“We’re at a very exciting time in history when it comes to LGBT equality. Yes, there are setbacks almost daily in America—to say nothing of Uganda and Russia, two countries that demand our immediate attention. But here in America, we are edging ever closer to post-equality. With that in mind, should we continue to believe that people will only accept our gayness if they are made to believe we didn’t choose it? Should reluctant, obligatory acceptance be the goal of our activism? Well, that certainly isn’t my goal.”

In the article, Ambrosino never actually says that he chose to be gay. Rather, he conflates sexual activity with sexual identity, saying that “ I’ve convinced a few men to try out my sexuality." By this thinking, people “choose to be gay” only when they engage in gay sex. He later applies this thinking to transgender people too, suggesting that trans people exercise “sexual autonomy” when they follow their own modes of gender expression.

Continue reading AFTER THE JUMP...

Previously Ambrosino has written articles about his experiences being gay at Liberty University, an article on how opposing gay marriage doesn’t make you a bigot, a piece suggesting that we shouldn’t silence anti-equality celebrities and an MLK-Day column on how gay activists should try listening to and loving their enemies more.

Many LGBT bloggers have refuted  Ambrosino’s piece, including a comprehensive take-down by Evan Hurst at Truth Wins Out comparing Ambrosino’s rhetoric to that of anti-gay advocates, a critique by John Aravosis suggesting that Ambrosino needs to get current with Martin Luther King’s legacy, and Noah Michelson's at Gay Voices which says electroconvulsive therapy, exorcisms and “corrective rape" all stem from the idea that people can un-choose their sexual and gender identities.

However, the New Republic also ran a refutation piece by Gabriel Arana stating that most LGBT people do not feel like they have “chosen” their identities and that, "The idea that it's empowering to choose one’s sexual orientation may have some allure, but in practice it's the very basis for much of the discrimination gays and lesbians face."

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  1. I guess minding your own damn business instead of speaking for an entire collective of people with no research to back up a single statement just isn't possible. Glad you think what you think, dude. Now, go away.

    Posted by: Tigernan | Jan 31, 2014 8:37:29 PM

  2. Okay, you think you made a choice. I'll take you at your word. Millions upon millions of us, however, did not. Not even close.

    Posted by: petensfo | Jan 31, 2014 8:41:30 PM

  3. Anybody can claim anything.

    Posted by: BETTY | Jan 31, 2014 8:47:00 PM

  4. What an appalling lack of logic at work. Why not simply choose to be straight? That's what this muddleheaded man doesn't address.

    Posted by: Daniel | Jan 31, 2014 8:47:56 PM

  5. Religion makes people do ridiculous things.

    Posted by: Sean in Dallas | Jan 31, 2014 8:54:42 PM

  6. Who is this dork? The biological difference has already been recorded by a study in Science magazine! http://www.sciencemag.org/content/253/5023/1034.abstract?sid=a3ac9da2-15b4-4cd7-9a16-1f08a2fdd62f

    Posted by: ty | Jan 31, 2014 8:58:21 PM

  7. I guess christianity scooped out his soul and turned him into a puppet. The manipulated living; how sad. I pity him.

    Posted by: Loch | Jan 31, 2014 9:01:06 PM

  8. Calling yourself "LGBT" is a choice; being gay isn't.

    Posted by: Knock | Jan 31, 2014 9:07:54 PM

  9. Of course no one chooses to be gay no more than anyone chooses to be straight. But whether it is genetic or a choice, it shouldn't matter. No one is being harmed simply by being gay.

    Posted by: SpaceCadet | Jan 31, 2014 9:08:14 PM

  10. Apparently Ambrosino read in one of Liberty U's two library books that sexual orientation is a choice.

    Posted by: john patrick | Jan 31, 2014 9:08:30 PM

  11. There's a very interesting text, "The Mismeasure of Desire," that proposes that choice, in fact, plays a role in sexual orientation. The author, Edward Stein, reviews the then-current biological science on the matter and finds it inconclusive. He proposes that choice, beyond the obvious "will I have sex with this person?" decision, entails decisions that may not involve sex directly but imply or entail particular approaches or assumptions about sexuality and one's future conduct. I found the reasoning compelling.

    In the final analysis, here is a question: suppose sexual orientation really is nothing more than a personal choice. Why should tradition, society, "morality," or whatever, rationally prefer one decision over another? Obviously, the fate of the human race doesn't rest on the sexual decision of any individual. Why should _this_ choice be forbidden, but _that_ choice be blessed? It is clear, historically, that other societies have held other values and progressed along just fine. Our own socio-cultural preference has little to commend it save an ancient whimsy and historical repetition.

    I can see no reason to consider the choice of one kind of sexual partner or another rationally constrained in any way. In other words, the need to have sexual orientation inborn might arise from a kind of sexual phobia -- among heterosexuals, the fear of being or doing the unexpected; among homo- or bi-sexuals, the fear of being or doing a wrong willfully. Why should we consider self-willed behavior to be wrong? What, indeed, is the social value of non-conformity?

    Posted by: Chuck Mielke | Jan 31, 2014 9:16:45 PM

  12. If he chose to be gay then he's probably bisexual and has chosen to be with men. That's the only explanation I could see. Cause it certainly wasn't a choice for me and the people I know.

    Posted by: secret identity | Jan 31, 2014 9:20:45 PM

  13. I'm sorry, but isn't Ambrosino the same little cute-face-of-the-day dancer twerp who defended Phil Robertson from withering attack by the LGBT community back in December?

    And before that didn't he incoherently (and unconvincinbly) muse that being against marriage equality didn't make you a homophobe?

    To an extent, I can see the point he's making--some people choose their sexuality, some people don't. That doesn't have to be a terribly controversial proposition. However, ALL people should have the right to choose how they express their sexuality, just like ALL people have a right to choose their religious beliefs, or whether to believe at all.

    Among the choices I made, was not to marry a woman to whom I was not sexually atracted; not to father children with a woman to whom I would not stay married; not to lie to family and friends about whom I loved and wanted to build a life with. People who oppose my right to those choices are ignorant, right-denying, homophobes.

    Ambrosino is branding himself as the Gay Contrarian Cutie in the Equality debate, which will only last for as long as he's cute. Unfortunately, Stupid sticks around a lot longer. He is an intellectual Judas to the concept of Equality, arrogantly selling his community out for a fleeting 15 minutes of spotlight.

    Preening homophobe apologists like Ambrosino deserve to feel the full weight of the LGBT's opposing views.

    Posted by: Choosy Muthuh | Jan 31, 2014 9:22:57 PM

  14. I don't believe there is a choice in homosexual desire- there is a choice in how we choose to express it- from the closet or out and proud.

    Posted by: jarago | Jan 31, 2014 9:23:48 PM

  15. @Secret Identity: Exactly, that's the only sensible explantion here, and even in that case, he wouldn't have chosen to be gay as technically he's still bi, just not exploring the other half.

    Posted by: Bryan | Jan 31, 2014 9:24:34 PM

  16. I have always said the defence that we didn't chose to be gay is weak and pointless. Black people didn't chose to be black, do you think the KKK cares? No, they don't. Saying we didn't chose to be gay is not an argument. It also makes it seem like we're saying "Look, I know I'm dirty and not natural, but I didn't CHOOSE it. So feel sorry for me." Choosing ones sexual orientation is impossible. Period. We (humans) cannot believe us so above nature that we would have the power to do so. But to use it as the main defence isn't going to get us anywhere. I'd rather be hated than pitied or (even worse) "tolerated". As the comment above said: everybody should just mind their own business(as long at that business is equal under the law).

    Posted by: PeteG | Jan 31, 2014 9:36:10 PM

  17. More than a bit self-aggrandizing. Even if you accept him at his word that his concept of his orientation is a choice it's still beyond presumptuous of him to pretend to speak for the community. His narcissism and lack of sense of community is sickening.

    What's even worse is that a national journal would publish this drivel as anything other than an op-ed or opinion piece.

    Sad commentary on the state of journalism when controversy and hits is worth more than journalistic integrity.

    Posted by: SERIOUSLY | Jan 31, 2014 9:36:59 PM

  18. It is as much as a choice as heterosexuals chose to be straight.

    Posted by: Andy Towlette | Jan 31, 2014 9:43:55 PM

  19. who is this idiot? never heard of her

    Posted by: Reality | Jan 31, 2014 9:55:26 PM

  20. It wasn't for me, but what if it had been? What if I chose to be gay? I'd have had my reasons, and I'd still deserve equal civil and human rights. It's a distinction without a difference.

    Posted by: The milkman | Jan 31, 2014 9:58:39 PM

  21. When I was young I was trisexual. Tried it all, found only one type gave me emotional bonding and pleasure. And it wasn't with girls. My only choice was whether to live how my body told me to be or to live a life built upon deceit. Since I felt I'm generally a truthful person; I felt I had to be truthful to myself.
    I don't know if he's being truthful to himself or trying to fit into a flying spaghetti monster version of what he thinks he should be. I hope he figures himself out.

    Posted by: sjaeger | Jan 31, 2014 10:03:51 PM

  22. And his choice is to use the word "queer" to describe himself. I agree.

    Posted by: Hansel Currywurst | Jan 31, 2014 10:05:29 PM

  23. Self-loathing piece of garbage. I guess he will remain single for the rest of his life. Who would want to be married to this piece of self-hating turd that lacks any intellect on this issue. What a traitor!

    Posted by: RK | Jan 31, 2014 10:13:06 PM

  24. Right. I must've made a choice and then some Satanic vacuum cleaner came along and scooped the memory of it right out out of my brain, so that now I think I was born this way. Are you reading this, Brian Fischer et al? Here's your next halfdose antigay theory.

    Posted by: ophu | Jan 31, 2014 11:01:32 PM

  25. I don't think sexual orientation is a choice for most people, but there are people on the cusps of categories who have some choice, and others for whom something other than orientation drives sexual choices. He's right about choice being a poor basis for the legitimacy of our orientation. There are people with mental disorders they cannot change, but that doesn't make their behavior acceptable. Homosexuality is acceptable not because it's not a choice, but because it has its own beauty and greatness, and it brings joy to people without harming anyone. But there are people, especially very religious people, who need it to not be a choice before they can accept it. It's not a lie to say it's not a choice, because it isn't for many people, and that seems to benefit to the equality movement. I think eventually, however, "choice" will become irrelevant. It's a transitional factor.

    Posted by: jimstoic | Jan 31, 2014 11:03:30 PM

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