This article originally appeared on VICE Alps
At this point, most liberally-minded people believe that sexual orientation isn't a choice – from Lady Gaga to the US Supreme Court, the dominant belief is that you are born with your sexuality. But there are still some people on both sides of LGBT issues who believe that homosexuality is a choice. Feminist writer Julie Bindel has argued that some people choose to be gay, while many Republican presidential candidates in the US, as well as some Tory backbenchers in the UK, argue the same as a way to deny gay people rights.
So let's just imagine for a moment that this unlikely grouping of radical feminists and homophobes were right. Would anyone choose to be gay? To live a life subject to discrimination and bullying and, in some countries, even violence? Would anyone choose to risk being rejected by their own family? Gay and lesbian teens are four times more likely to commit suicide than straight kids. Eating disorders, loneliness, substance abuse and depression are still pervasive among LGB youth worldwide. Who would want that kind of life?
And aside from issues of discrimination, being gay is just more difficult. Even for young, gay people – myself included – who were lucky enough to grow up in a liberal environment, we still live in a world that's been tailored to heterosexuals. Outside of explicitly gay events and the usual apps, it's much harder to meet people. Often people assume you're straight, or pigeonhole you as the gay one in a group of friends.
For me, the hypothetical choice to become straight would be logical. I'm not saying that because I secretly hate myself – I'm really happy to be gay (these days). However, being straight would make things much easier. If it was up to me, I'd prefer to lead a life that includes the option of marrying my partner.
I asked some other gay men if they would rather be gay or straight.
"I talked about this once with a friend, who said he would get the injection that made you straight if it existed. I think if I had the choice, I wouldn't really want to be straight. It would definitely be exciting to try it out for a week but I think I would get bored quite fast. I think there is a reason for everything and if I'd been straight from the beginning, I may have had an easier childhood but also no sense of humour – or wouldn't be able to take criticism as well today. But who can even say that!
Aside from all that, as mundane as it sounds, I enjoy a lot of aspects of "gay" culture – movies like Priscilla and Queen of the Desert or trashy pop. And I think I would lose all of that if I were straight."
"There was a time when I would have answered this question with a definitive "yes" – especially when I was going through puberty. But now it's not like that. I'm happy to live in the 21st century and to contribute a little to making the world a better place by showing that there is a variety of ways to express love. Even if we're only at the beginning of this revolution."
"That's an exciting question – because it cuts both ways. It's not a really fair question either. Everyone wants to be accepted the way he or she is – accepted, desired, loved. Most people interpret this question as 'Would you rather be normal?' I like who I am and wouldn't want to change that. At the same time, I would like it if the world just accepted me the way I am."
"If I was younger, I'd be saying 'yes'. Back then, I was a little worried about how my life would turn out. When you grow up in the countryside, you aren't presented with many alternative lifestyles. But that all changed pretty quickly, especially after I spent some time in London, where it isn't a problem at all. I've now realised there is a bunch of positive things that come with being gay. Gay networking, for instance, is a thing. So I'm pretty satisfied with the way things are. And who knows what the future will bring – maybe I'll get pregnant."
"Being straight would be a downgrade for me. But life is probably hard for everyone, no matter their sexual preferences. Feelings have to do with chemistry and they all come from the same elements on the periodic table."
"I would only rather be straight in situations where being gay just complicates things. I haven't been in that kind of situation yet. But if you're like me and want to have a conservative, tranquil life and want to start a family, then being gay can make that pretty hard."
"The X-Men question! No, I wouldn't want the "cure". I'm happy that I'm gay. And yeah, I'm sure it makes my life harder sometimes but whose life isn't? Even if everyone was straight, we would still find ways to discriminate against each other. You can't always be trying to fit into the mainstream. Where would it end? I think I'd rather stick to my otherness. In the end, it made me who I am."
The fact that most of the people I asked would still choose to be gay obviously makes me glad. It also makes me feel guilty for thinking I'd personally prefer to be straight just so I could have a more stereotypical life. Feeling this way is not something I'm proud of. If I really could decide for myself, if it were actually a choice, then I would like to live in a world where I wouldn't even have to consider if I wanted to be myself or not.
More on VICE: