Being gay isn’t a choice, bad journalism is

Who do you have to sleep with to get a gig writing for the New Republic?  Because, clearly, you don’t have to be an actual writer with a novel idea.

To wit: Our favorite self-loathing Jerry-Falwell-educated homosexual dancer Brandon Ambrosino, who, although he can’t actually write, keeps getting published in places like the Atlantic, TIME and the New Republic seemingly because he’s gay and contrary.  And nothing gets pageviews like a little online gay-bashing, especially if it comes from a fellow gay.

And while Ambrosino’s latest carnage, titled “I wasn’t born this way, I chose to be gay,” isn’t head-on rhetorical gay-bashing, like some of his earlier works, indirectly it proves just as harmful. Ambrosino, you see, is one of those gays who thinks it’s a “choice” being gay, which is idiotic and intellectually sloppy, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Uh, no you really didn't.

Uh, no you really didn’t.

I’ve noted before that Ambrosino isn’t a terribly good writer.  And it’s a point that’s growing in importance as there has to be some reason these editors keep publishing his clearly college-level essays.  And I doubt he’s sleeping with all of them (though apparently he could “choose” to, even if they were women), so it’s more likely the publications are looking for eyeballs in an increasingly difficult online media environment.  And nothing gets eyeballs like a gay who’s willing to throw his own people to the lions.

Let me give you a sample of the quality of Ambrosino’s latest writing:

 Ambrosino is a graduate of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.

Ambrosino is a graduate of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. “Liberty is very different from what you might think of it. It gets a bad rap because of a few of Falwell’s soundbytes, but all in all, I really enjoyed it.” – Ambrosino.

We’re at a very exciting time in history when it comes to LGBT equality. Yes, there are setbacks almost daily in America—to say nothing of Uganda and Russia, two countries that demand our immediate attention. But here in America, we are edging ever closer to post-equality. With that in mind, should we continue to believe that people will only accept our gayness if they are made to believe we didn’t choose it? Should reluctant, obligatory acceptance be the goal of our activism? Well, that certainly isn’t my goal.

It reads like college, at best.

Ambrosino didn’t get the job because he can write – he got it for the polemics. You see, Ambrosino is a magical kind of gay – a fairy, one might say – who likes to play with penises, and really doesn’t like vaginas, but can magically decide tomorrow, if he so wills it, that penises will no longer hold sway with him, while vaginas will suddenly become the cat’s meow.

The entire notion is patently absurd, and intellectual both sloppy and lazy.  More on that in a moment.

Here’s Ambrosino on his sexual orientation:

I could, in fact, change this if I tried, if I wanted to. I chose this.

Yeah?  Prove it.  I’d love to see the Great Ambrosino in action, willing an attraction to a gender where, only moments ago, there was none.  It’s never happened in the history of the world.

Ambrosino is likely not formulating his thoughts terribly well (which happens when magazines hire people who can’t write).  He’s not describing gay people actually choosing their sexual orientation. He’s talking about either bisexuals (or people who are predominantly of one orientation, but still have enough attraction the other way that if the right person came along they could act on it), or he’s describing people who legitimately have seen their orientation morph over the years, through no causation of their own.  But all three of those categories are not people who “chose” to change their sexual orientation.  They are simply people who chose to act on the already-appealling meal placed before them.  Ambrosino didn’t choose to find men sexually attractive any more than I choose to love chocolate.  I can choose whether to partake in chocolate, but I can’t choose to turn on and off the underlying desire for the sweet.

If buying into the religious right talking point that being gay is a choice wasn’t bad enough, Ambrosino also just had to get into the whole “gay civil rights aren’t the same thing as black civil rights” canard.  It’s a popular trope with homophobes (and some in the uber-left). Here’s Ambrosino:

One of the reasons I think our activism is so insistent on sexual rigidity is because, in our push to make gay rights the new black rights, we’ve conflated the two issues. The result is that we’ve decided that skin color is the same thing as sexual behavior. I don’t think this is true. When we conflate race and sexuality, we overlook how fluid we are learning our sexualities truly are. To say it rather crassly: I’ve convinced a few men to try out my sexuality, but I’ve never managed to get them to try on my skin color. In other words, one’s sexuality isn’t as biologically determined as race. Many people do feel as if their sexuality is something they were born with, and I have no reason to disbelieve them. But as I and other queer persons will readily confirm, there are other factors informing our sexualities than simply our genetic codes.

Sexual behavior?  That’s what being gay is to you, Brandon – just sexual behavior?  Actually, if you want to get technical, it’s about sexual attraction, not sexual behavior.  A gay priest, who has devoted his life to celibacy, is still gay.

As for Ambrosino’s “I’ve never managed to get them to try on my skin color,” the gay haters at the religious right couldn’t have written it any better.  Ambrosino, possibly unaware, is paraphrasing a famous quote that Colin Powell used to defend the oppression of gays and lesbians in the military back in 1993.  It’s a quote the religious right frequently uses to this day in their ongoing efforts to deny us our civil rights.  How beautiful of Ambrosino to give the hateful quote new life.

Regarding the whole “black vs gay” thing, Ambrosino should read up on his Coretta Scott King, who showed no reticence over the link between homophobia and racism.  Here’s Mrs. King in various speeches over the years:

Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood.

On the common struggle:

We have a lot more work to do in our common struggle against bigotry and discrimination. I say “common struggle” because I believe very strongly that all forms of bigotry and discrimination are equally wrong and should be opposed by right-thinking Americans everywhere. Freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation is surely a fundamental human right in any great democracy, as much as freedom from racial, religious, gender, or ethnic discrimination.

And writing about ENDA:

Like Martin, I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others. So I see this bill as a step forward for freedom and human rights in our country and a logical extension of the Bill of Rights and the civil rights reforms of the 1950’s and ‘60’s.

Then there’s Ambrosino’s bizarre take on being transgender:

The aversion to that word in our community stems from belief that if we can’t prove that our gayness is biologically determined, then we won’t have grounds to demand equality. I think this fear needs to be addressed and given up. In America, we have the freedom to be as well as tochoose to be. I see no reason to believe that the only sexualities worth protecting are the ones over which one has no control. After all, isn’t trans activism fueled by the belief that the government has the responsibility to protect all of us regardless of our sexual choices? And aren’t protections for bisexuals based upon the same presupposition of sexual autonomy? Perhaps the L and G factions of our community would do well to follow the political lead of the Bs and Ts on this issue.

Okay, seriously, are there no editors at all at TNR?  Trans activism is fueled by the belief that government has the responsiblity to protect sexual choices?  I’m far from being America’s top expert on being transgender, but being trans has zero – and I mean ZERO – to do with a sexual choice.  It’s not sexual, and it’s not a choice.  It’s about which gender you identity with, not who you have sex with.  And who has ever alleged that being trans is a choice, as if any of us could simply become transgender for the afternoon, you know, for the fun of it? How did Ambrosino’s editor even let that sentence slide?

In the end, all you need to know about Brandon Ambrosino is in this essay he wrote about what a great place Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University (his alma mater) is, and what a great pro-gay, but sadly misunderstood, guy Jerry Falwell really was:

Liberty is very different from what you might think of it. It gets a bad rap because of a few of Falwell’s soundbytes, but all in all, I really enjoyed it….

When I think of Jerry Falwell, I don’t think about him the way Bill Maher does. I think about the man who would wear a huge Blue Afro wig to our school games, or the man who slid down a waterslide in his suit, or the man who would allow himself to be mocked during our coffeehouse shows. I think about the man who reminded us every time he addressed our student body that God loved us, that he loved us, and that he was always available if ever we needed him.

I never told Dr. Falwell that I was gay; but I wouldn’t have been afraid of his response. Would he have thought homosexuality was an abomination? Yes. Would he have thought it was God’s intention for me to be straight? Yes. But would he have wanted to stone me? No. And if there were some that would’ve wanted to stone me, I can imagine Jerry Falwell, with his fat smile, telling all of my accusers to go home and pray because they were wicked people.

Falwell wouldn’t have wanted to literally stone the gay to death.  That’s a pretty low threshhold for “gay-affirming.”  But when you’re desperately messed up about who you are, I guess you’ll grab at anything.

I’m sorry Brandon, but your sexual orientation isn’t a choice any more than someone chooses to find only redheads attractive today, while tomorrow he’s decided to only get hot-and-bothered by blonds.

But you know what is a choice? The Atlantic, TIME and the New Republic publishing sub-standard homophobic garbage, with no thought as to the ethics involved, journalistic or otherwise, simply because they’re in need of pageviews.

(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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