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ignorant question? [Aug. 3rd, 2007|01:47 pm]
The Queer by Choice Community

queerchoice

[fourwordsapart]
hello. not sure whether this community is highly active but i thought i'd try asking anyway.

i'm a person who is historically heterosexual in practice but upon maturation and consideration have become very open to the idea of queer experiences and/or relationships. that's not really related to my question, but it is why i've become interested lately in queer theory and politics. (of course, even if i wasn't personally inclined to tentatively identify as bisexual or something other than strictly hetero, i'd hope i'd be interested anyway!)

anyhow i just came across the idea of "queer by choice" and i find it very intriguing. i suppose i understand the belief that sexual orientation is fluid rather than dictated by genetics or atmosphere (though i'm not informed enough to have an opinion either way), but i don't understand exactly the motivation to choose a preference. is it an exercise in will? i suppose what i mean to ask is whether it's a political action meant to display the autonomy of the individual or perhaps to condemn the mindless standardization that is manifest in the majority of people identifying as straight--a protest against the conventional heteronormative assumption that "straight" is normal.

i don't know if that made sense. i hope it wasn't offensively ignorant--trust me i mean well! ok well hopefully someone can shed some light on this topic for me.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: queerbychoice
2007-08-04 01:41 am (UTC)
My personal reason for choosing to be bisexual was that I felt that treating maleness as a requirement for me to fall in love with anyone was shallow and prejudicial and implied that all the seemingly profound and meaningful emotions involved in being in love with someone were actually just rather meaningless animal instincts. It is my impression that this is a common reason why people choose to be bisexual.

The most common reasons I have heard for why people choose to be homosexual are that they don't want to have the power differential of patriarchy dividing them from their partner in their most intimate relationships, and/or that they feel they can better relate to and understand people with whom they share a gender role.

I have also heard people say that they've chosen to be queer (either bisexual or homosexual) because they are drawn to nonconformist/underdog cultures. I have not yet heard of anyone choosing to be queer just to prove that they could; my guess is that trying to choose for that reason wouldn't work very well, simply because there isn't really any sudden neon sign that tells people, "You have officially achieved queerness at this very moment!" so in order to really develop any sense of having definitely successfully achieved it, you probably need some sort of sufficiently serious motivation to make you actually want to stay queer long-term. Trying to turn queer for exactly two minutes as some sort of party trick and then turn back straight again would just really not provide any convincing evidence of having achieved any actual change. It generally takes months to fall in love with someone seriously, and it generally involves hoping to spend the rest of your life with that person. So if someone did originally decide to be queer solely to prove that they could, I think they've have to quickly discover a whole bunch of additional reasons that also make them want to be queer, if they were to actually achieve any real sense of their own identity as being queer.
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[User Picture]From: fourwordsapart
2007-08-04 05:19 pm (UTC)
i am very intrigued by your way of coming to your preference. i think it sort of sums up my recently developing identification as bisexual (though i dont know how exactly i feel about the term itself). i find it so striking that it's such a radical idea that a person wouldn't have a gender requirement for a lover. it seems so evident.
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[User Picture]From: krazyhippie
2007-08-04 05:40 am (UTC)
I don't identify as queer by choice anymore, b/c once I was actually with a woman for the first time, I realized I felt things physically that I never had w/ men and that's something that was outside any conscious decision. However...my reasons would be that I love queer culture, and as stereotypical as this may seem, as a feminist I feel that there is nothing more beautiful and empowering than a woman loving another woman.
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[User Picture]From: fourwordsapart
2007-08-04 05:14 pm (UTC)
but you used to identify as queer by choice? what motivated that? and was is the discovery of other reasons to be attracted to women that caused you to reject the label?

sorry so nosy!
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[User Picture]From: krazyhippie
2007-08-04 11:54 pm (UTC)
curious, not nosy. :)

I think I felt unsure of my queerness because I HAD enjoyed being with a man when I was with him. (I was only with one, for six years.) And I hadn't been with a woman yet. So I felt like a fake claming a lesbian label, even though now I realize that's ridiculous. I felt like saying I was inherently gay would invalidate the six years with my ex that I did enjoy at the time, so I said that I was inherently bisexual as most people probably are and that I was choosing to be exclusively with women.

But then when I was with a woman and realized the vast difference, I realized there was something there that was beyond anything I could choose. I'd never experienced feeling such strong physical attraction to someone, where I was attracted to their entire body, not just to their personality and face and how their body could make me feel good. But to be so overwhelmed with feeling every part of them touching every part of me, to be so hyperaware of every curve, every part of someone's skin...that was overwhelmingly new to me. To have my heart racing out of nervousness when kissing and be so attuned to our whole bodies while kissing instead of just feeling mouth on mouth and enjoying that...it was just a whole different ballgame, in an amazing and wonderful way. And that's when I realized that I'd just not realized that THIS is what it was supposed to feel like, and that I could again be with a guy only if I somehow forced myself to try to forget what this was like...and THAT would make me straight by choice. But inherently I was a total dyke. :)
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From: (Anonymous)
2007-12-26 02:37 am (UTC)
Sorry, this is months old, but I am also curious.

Did you experience all of those things that you mentioned with multiple women, or just one woman?
What I'm really getting at is whether you felt that way because you were attracted to the person because of who the person was or attracted to her because she was female.
This kind of thing immensely interests and confuses me, any answers or shared thoughts are appreciated. :)
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[User Picture]From: krazyhippie
2007-12-27 04:37 pm (UTC)
Because she was female. I wasn't even attracted to the first woman I was ever with, and because of that I could never reciprocate orally. But I still felt more with her than I had with my boyfriend of 6 years who I'd been in love with and moderately attracted to. And it's not because of WHAT she was doing, either...that wasn't anything spectacularly different. Just her womanness put me in a heightened place I'd never experienced before.
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[User Picture]From: krazyhippie
2007-12-27 04:37 pm (UTC)
Oh, and multiple women, to answer your other question.
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[User Picture]From: donutgirl
2007-08-04 10:47 am (UTC)
t's a political action meant to display the autonomy of the individual or perhaps to condemn the mindless standardization that is manifest in the majority of people identifying as straight--a protest against the conventional heteronormative assumption that "straight" is normal.

I really like the way you worded this. I'd never put it in these terms before, but I think this is actually pretty close to my experience.

When I was in high school, it was very fashionable to talk about how gay people "couldn't help it" and so should be pitied for their poor, unfortunate situation. Even though I considered myself straight, this really bugged me -- the idea that people had no power or control in who they loved or were attracted to. So I said to myself, if gay people are really gay because they *have* to be, and not because they like it, it stands to reason that no matter how hard I try to like girls, I won't be able to.

It seemed like a worthwhile experiment to undertake (although I realize now it was far from scientific), so I worked very hard at becoming attracted to females. And... it worked in under a month.

As for queerbychoice's claim that "if someone did originally decide to be queer solely to prove that they could, I think they've have to quickly discover a whole bunch of additional reasons that also make them want to be queer, if they were to actually achieve any real sense of their own identity as being queer," I guess I agree. Now my reasons for being queer are many and varied and complex. But in fact, I *did* start down this path just to prove that I could.
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[User Picture]From: fourwordsapart
2007-08-04 05:21 pm (UTC)
so was your experiment motivated only by the injustice you sensed? or did you have any prior curiosity or anything? did you also reject attraction to men, or lose your attraction along the way?

i am so curious, sorry!
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[User Picture]From: donutgirl
2007-08-04 05:40 pm (UTC)
No no, always liked boys, always will. The change in sexuality was merely additive.

Do you mean did I have any prior curiosity about having sex with girls? I would say no to that... in fact, I distinctly remember at age twelve or thirteen saying girls were horrible people and I could never be attracted to one. Then again, most twelve and thirteen year old girls *are* horrible people. ;)

I was, however, curious about human nature. All around me, people were always talking about how much human personality is predetermined at birth -- intelligence, sexuality, athleticism, musical ability, language ability, math ability... Maybe it seems trivial to other people to care so much about stuff like this, but any kind of biological determinism really drives me crazy -- sex and gender stuff, but everything else, too.

Maybe I'm just a control freak, but I *hate* the idea that my genes are pushing me around, telling me what to do. I could probably be really easily manipulated by someone who understood this about me -- tell me to do the laundry, and I'll ignore you. Tell me the *reason* I'm not doing the laundry is because I have slovenly DNA, and watch me fluff and fold like a madwoman.

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[User Picture]From: krazyhippie
2007-08-05 12:07 am (UTC)
The only thing I worry about is people making the opposite assumption then...that gay people should be able to choose to be straight. This may be true for some people but it's not true for other people. I like a nice balance between nature and nurture myself--I wouldn't chalk my sexuality totally up to either one. :)
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[User Picture]From: donutgirl
2007-08-05 09:43 am (UTC)
I understand this fear, and I am sympathetic. But think about it -- everyone (even me!) agrees that skin color is genetically determined, but does that mean black people are completely embraced by the dominant culture?

The truth is, assholes who hate queers will hate queers whether they got that way by nature, nurture, or choice. If you tell them you chose to be queer, they'll tell you to choose back. If you tell them your environment did it, they'll attack your mother and put you in a re-education camp. And if you tell them it's biological, they'll treat it like a disease -- sterilizing people to prevent new ones, or aborting babies that have a "gay gene" the way some people abort Down's Syndrome kids. If gay people are just broken straight people, why would any society want them?

Ultimately, it shouldn't matter how anyone got "that way" -- there's nothing wrong with loving whoever you want to love and fucking whoever you want to fuck. But don't make the mistake of thinking the "I can't help it" defense is going to protect you from an angry mob.

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[User Picture]From: krazyhippie
2007-08-05 05:04 pm (UTC)
don't make the mistake of thinking the "I can't help it" defense is going to protect you from an angry mob.

...I'm going to restate from my comment: "I like a nice balance between nature and nurture myself--I wouldn't chalk my sexuality totally up to either one."
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