I believe that all people have the biological ability to choose to be queer, but that not all queer people did choose to be queer. I believe that no one is born queer or heterosexual or with any other sexual preference, but that some people accidentally stumble across their queer potential, while others deliberately go looking for it.
And I don't believe that having chosen to become queer necessarily implies that one can also choose to go back to not being queer. I believe that biology places no limits on our sexual preferences, but that social dynamics do place limits. I don't believe anyone can choose to change their sexual preference if their motivation for doing so is fear (for example, fear of eternal damnation or fear of being discriminated against); I think trying to run away from things that one is afraid of doesn't work.
I agree with the above. Except... I do believe people *can* choose to be straight, it just strikes me as a pretty boring choice. And I think most people who make the choice eventually come to feel the same way, and choose to be queer again.
But yeah, I guess I'd agree that choices made primarily out of fear are never going to be very committed, sincere choices.
I chose to be queer, but I certainly don’t think every queer person chose to be queer.
My understanding is that at least some people can and do choose to be queer; perhaps everyone could in the right social environment, but I don’t know. I also withhold judgement on whether anyone is born queer. I certainly believe that there is a high degree of environmental influence on sexuality, but it’s not as simplistic as having an overbearing mother or something of that sort! There are all sorts of pressures and influences, biological and social, active in every human being’s life, and no one of them present or absent is going to decide our sexuality for us.
This is a garbled response, but it was a big question. :)
i don't think there's one hard and fast answer here.
i'll say that, for me, i think sexuality is far, far more flexible and fluid than we think it is, but i also believe that people can have innate proclivities or tendencies.
there's also a salient different between "queer" and "gay". even if certain people have (weather by biology, environment, or both) an inherent attraction to people of their own sex, that just makes them "gay" or "homosexual". "Queer", on the other hand, is always a choice.
that's an interesting distinction! hmm.
As with some others, I don't feel that a single answer applies to everyone. There's no denying the stories of people who risked everything, even their lives, to live freely and honestly. And certainly, many of us used to argue, if being queer is a choice, who would choose such a difficult life? (This was many years ago.)
What I've come to believe since, based in part on my own experience, is that what we call 'sexual orientation' in society is more properly considered object gender preference -- that is, our preference for the gender identities of our affectional objects, the people we find ourselves attracted to. This then makes it more like other attributes we might note about the objects of desire, like height, build, etc., and how strongly we prefer the trait of gender, and what specific traits of gender we prefer, comes to define how 'queer' we are. This is significant then only because of how significant it is within the larger culture.
There is also a notion of 'pansexuality' which takes this a bit further. In this, object gender preference is understood to be flexible, or unimportant, to the extent that it is no longer relevant. Within our culture, 'queerness' is defined as a person's proclivity to be attracted to persons of the 'same sex'. But if we don't care, then what? The culture still considers anyone 'queer' who ever has any such feelings, but to a pansexual person, the consideration is of little or no relevance.
Pansexuals, as well as many others, also increasingly deconstruct the social paradigms of gender, to the point that it becomes less and less relevant and reliable as the basis of all of these considerations. In a world where top-flight clinical investigators such as Brown University's Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling are deconstructing notions of gender scientifically, our traditional notions of 'queer' and 'straight' start to fall apart, or at least seem increasingly pointless as cultural issues.
Rounding back to your original question, I think that object gender has a different meaning and relevance for different people. Within the context of our culture, 'queer choice' to me means that object gender is not the be-all, end-all consideration for me, meaning that in a much more restrictive environment, I might have been straight, though I can't be sure about that. But instead, I found myself able to decide to act on attractions considered nonstandard within my culture, and those nonstandard attractions low enough in intensity that at some level, some conscious choice to act in that direction was necessary on my part to overcome cultural norms encouraging me not to do so.
I think for many people, these attractions are so powerful that they would not feel they could live a happy life without acting on them, and this would feel like a person had no choice. I also believe that for many others, the alternative attractions are not strong enough to overcome their own upbringing or inherent biases, and this may translate into self-hating bigotry. I've many times suspected that this is what's behind the particularly forceful anti-gay energy we see in some people, the ferocity of which seems to surpass any rational understanding.
And then there's everyone else, for whom their individual degree of attraction to culturally alternative object gender runs the gamut from 'want' to 'must have' to 'ehn' and may be one component of a more complex mix of elements of attraction. This is why I've come largely to personally reject traditional notions of 'gay' and 'straight' because I feel that human attraction is far too individual, complex, and fluid to be intelligently discussed in such narrow and limited manner.
I'm here because I believe everyone becomes queer or straight (when they start to attach their sexuality to people) and that is not a conscious choice... but it's possible to mould your sexuality later in life to an extent, even consciously.
(Personally, I subtly convinced myself to be bisexual when I was about 13.)