By Tori Tucker
The Gay Agenda
I’m sure you’ve heard the word “lifestyle” thrown around in discussions about the LGBTQ community.
Personally, I hear it all the time from my family, from strangers, from well-meaning friends, but the trouble is that my “lifestyle” is so much more than that.
When a straight person brings the term “lifestyle” to the table, usually they are referencing sexual relations, or otherwise something that they believe should be reflected negatively, but the thing is that when someone tells me they don’t like or understand my “lifestyle,” they’re saying that they don’t like that I’m happy, or that I’m in a committed relationship with someone that I’m in love with.
They’re saying that they don’t approve of how hard I work at my education or my job. They disapprove of the fact that I’m a recent college graduate or that I prefer coffee to tea. The point is that when the term “lifestyle” comes into play, it references something much larger than what this person means.
A lifestyle is a choice. It is a conscious decision (or decisions) that a person makes in regards to how they live their life. Being LGBTQ is not a choice, and the ever popular assertion that us gays are just “choosing” to live a lifestyle full of debauchery and sin is very harmful.
For me, being gay isn’t a choice I made. I didn’t choose to be attracted to other women, but here I am, and if I weren’t being true to myself, the only lifestyle “choice” I would be making would be the choice to be unhappy.
When I try to explain why this term is hurtful, people say things like “well don’t be so sensitive,” or brush it off with a simple “whatever” but it’s not that easy. For years, straight people have referred to “the homosexual lifestyle” with negative connotations.
What does this mean? Well, to people with some underlying discomfort with gay people (see: homophobia) the term “lifestyle” is used to encompass anything they deem to be distasteful. For us queer folk however, this is the kind of language we’ve spent lifetimes combating.
Sometimes when people refer to the gay lifestyle they mean “how dare you try to have rights to anything I, a heterosexual person, have? You want to raise children? You’ll corrupt them by showing them that a loving family doesn’t have to consist of a heterosexual partnership. You want to get married? How dare you suggest that two people of the same gender can love and support one another. You’re ruining the sanctity of marriage!”
So, what do you mean you don’t approve of my lifestyle? Would you rather I not mow my lawn? Should I not wear sunhats to the beach? Oh, no! God forbid I have a degree in English! You don’t disapprove of my lifestyle. You disapprove of my existence as a happy queer person, and to you I say, get over it, because if you’re making the choice to tell me that being who I am is wrong, it is you who should be questioning your lifestyle choices.
Tori Tucker and Emma Simpson are Keene State College students who work on the column The Gay Agenda together. It is posted every Sunday at InDepthNH.org
Tori Tucker was born and raised in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She is a student, author, and activist, and just graduated from Keene State College with a major in English-Writing, with minors in music and German. She is an intern at InDepthNH.org.
Emma Simpson is a Women’s and Gender Studies major at Keene State College. She is the vice president of her campus a cappella group and involved with Planned Parenthood as a volunteer.
InDepthNH.org and Manchester Ink Link co-publish The Gay Agenda