It's kind of like when you woke up this morning and decided to be straight.
The alarm sounded. You sat up, swung your legs over the side of the bed in the early morning light, took a deep breath and said, "Universe, I'm straight!" (I hear it's more invigorating than coffee.)
It's one of my favorite things when people say we GLBT-ers "chose this lifestyle." Because I also chose to have green eyes? A short inseam? A penchant for salty snacks?
One would hope that if I were making choices then I'd choose something a bit more sound, something that, say, didn't take away my civil rights, risk putting me in the poor house, or even take away my house.
Take photographer Annie Liebowitz and her recent financial woes as an example. It seems that when Susan Sontag, Liebowitz's longtime partner, passed away and Liebowitz inherited Sontag's estate, the old choice-of-lifestyle claim reared its not-so financially-kind head. To quote Julie Miranda from AfterEllen.com:
"Same-sex couples do not have the same privileges as straight married couples when it comes to inheritance. If your partner passes away and leaves her estate to you, you have to pay up to 50 percent of the value of your inheritance in taxes. However, if you and your partner were recognized as a married couple, you wouldn't have to pay a dime ..."
So, when Susan Sontag died and bequeathed several properties to Liebowitz, she was forced to pay half of their value just to keep them.
Um, can I change my order, please? I choose eggs with a side of civil rights.
Maybe all of this choice stuff comes from the choice to come out. And that, I'll give you, is a conscious choice.
But it's not a choice about liking girls better than boys. Or being a Carolina fan as opposed to a Clemson fan. It's a choice to tell the truth about who you love and who you are, to live honestly, openly, and authentically and continue evolving into the best you possible.
How about this frightening choice? A Kentucky Senate committee has unanimously chosen to approve a bill that would prohibit unmarried couples from adopting children or being foster parents. If you're keeping track, that doesn't just affect the GLBT community, it affects unmarried straight couples too. Meaning, even Angelina and Brad couldn't adopt in Kentucky if this hateful little bill passes.
Most of my GLBT friends have, out of sheer necessity, delved into law, financial planning, and HIPAA regulations in an attempt to protect themselves, their partners, and families. If you're GLBT or a GLBT supporter in this generation, you better be ready to study, make phone calls, write letters, and march.
If I sound frustrated, I am. The California Supreme Court is pondering Proposition 8, so I'm feeling a bit edgy. On the other hand, I have people who care enough about my rights and life to study, make phone calls, write letters, and march.
And when my alarm sounds, I will sit up, swing my legs over the side of the bed in the early morning light, take a deep breath, and say, "Universe, I'm SALLY ALBRIGHT, and I choose me." (It's more invigorating than coffee.)