Today on Facebook, I saw the following statement, applied to the LGBT community:
“I don’t agree with their lifestyle.”
These words, when applied to someone’s sexuality make me cringe.
They make me shake my head.
They make me angry.
I try to avoid being overly controversial and I realize that some of my readers may strongly disagree with what I am about to post. I’m posting it anyway for the people I love.
I am tired of seeing a person’s sexual orientation described as a lifestyle.
It isn’t a lifestyle.
A lifestyle can be defined as a combination of opinions, attitudes, interests, values, needs, and wants. It can be molded by a multitude of factors including one’s family, community, faith, upbringing, even income.
So, if I say someone identifies themselves as a vegan, immediately certain things about how that person chooses to lead his or her life pops into mind. To say a vegan doesn’t eat meat, is oversimplifying it. Vegan’s don’t consume or use any product derived from animals. They don’t wear leather. They don’t eat Jell-O. They won’t take a vitamin containing Magnesium Stearate unless it is clearly identified as coming from a vegetable source. A person might decide to become a vegan for a variety of reasons that may differ from other people who choose to be vegans. But everyone who identifies as a vegan makes many consumer choices based on that decision. That is a lifestyle.
Choosing to enter a religious order is a lifestyle choice.
Choosing to sell everything, buy a sailboat and sail around the world is a lifestyle choice.
Choosing to live as green as possible is a lifestyle choice.
The key here is that generally one chooses a lifestyle. One does not choose a sexual orientation. For anyone who is reading this who identifies as heterosexual, do you honestly believe you chose that? Didn’t you always just know it? Did you reach a point in your life where you wondered, “Hmm, am I going to like girls or boys?” Maybe so, but I doubt it. There are certainly those who do question or even suppress their sexual identity, but I suspect the vast majority of people don’t. Furthermore, if I say I am heterosexual does that tell you anything about my lifestyle? No. It only tells you my sexual orientation.
Therefore, there is no such thing as an LGBT lifestyle, just as there is no heterosexual lifestyle. Someone’s sexual identity does not define the way that person chooses to live, it only defines the gender to whom they are attracted or the gender with which they identify.
I think it does real damage when we refer to something over which an individual has no control as a lifestyle choice. Defining someone’s lifestyle based on one aspect of who they were born to be makes no more sense than suggesting one’s lifestyle is dictated by the color of their eyes.