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.

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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."