Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Challenged Lifestyle

It is amazing how easily we often wish others were just like us. We expect our family members and friends to behave exactly the way we do, dress as we do, speak the same way. Why is this, when we’re told and taught as children to be individuals? Maybe it’s because we believe that we are always right. Maybe we just don’t like being different, because we often try to “fit in” to be a part of the majority or the in crowd.

I’ve often heard, just like many gay men, that being gay is a choice. We’ve all heard the argument being made “You chose to be gay”. This is one of the hardest things about the gay lifestyle to understand. “Why would you want to be gay?” is what most people want to know. This is my answer: I didn’t choose it. It chose me. It has been who I’ve known myself to be since I was a child of 8 years old. It was when I became aware of the fact that I was attracted to members of the same sex. Why would anyone “choose” a path in which you’ll have to fight to explain who you are for the rest of your life, simply because you aren’t in the majority?

When I first met my partner,14 years ago, he and I took my nephew and niece to a swimming pool located in Central Park one Summer. After having spent a great time for a few hours, we finally decided that we had all had our share of fun. On the way home, which was only 10 blocks away, a young man brushed into me, while someone shouted “head wop”. Which I now realize was a war cry for what was about to happen next. I had no realization that we were being targeted. We continued walking home and a few minutes later I felt an object hit the back of my neck. I had just been hit with a tree limb, hard. Fortunately it wasn’t enough to knock me out. In the next moment, all hell broke loose. I did what came instinctively, I turned around and hit the person who had accosted me, full force. Out of no where a group of his gang members rained down on us. While my nephew and niece watched,(I really can’t say I focused on them at the time, other than to tell them to run) my partner and I tried to defend ourselves. In the melee my partner and I became separated. I had become fully engaged with the gang leader who had struck me. My partner was engaged with a few of his cohorts,who were trying to kick and hit him. I heard someone yell “ throw him in the water”. My next thought was “ I can’t let that happen”. That was when I grabbed my attacker and lurched us both into the water. He was surprised that I had thrown us both into the Central Park lake, so I took advantage and stuck his head under the water. Screams of “You’re going to kill him” came from his gang members, as I continued giving him a taste of his own medicine. It was enough to take the fight out of them. Only then did they start running off, as most cowards do. The police finally arrived and afterwards I was taken to the emergency room, because I had been hit with an object on the back of my neck. I had also been cut by my eye (from a ring) during the fight. My mother and sister were called by my partner whom had accompanied me in the ambulance. I spent most of the night at the hospital before being released. To this day, I still wear the memory, in the form of a small scar on my face.

So does this sound like a lifestyle one “chooses”. That was not the only time we were “jumped”. It was to happen one more time, but that is a post for another time. Recently a talk show (which I can’t recollect) interviewed a panel of gay activists, and ant- gay activists. One of the questions asked by the anti-gay panel was “ Why do you try to equate the fight for gay rights with Civil Rights, when gays aren’t killed as they were during the Civil Rights Movement”. Someone answered the question, but they didn’t state this fact: Gays have been killed. My partner and I could have been killed, simply for walking home. There are many accounts such as this one, of an elderly man being brutally attacked and murdered. In fact Unfinished Lives is an entire website dedicated to the victims of hate crimes. Please take a moment to check the site out. Maybe then the reality of the horrors we as members of the LGBT community have to deal with will be clear.

Now I’d like to really come right to the point of this post. If you still believe that being gay is a choice, I have a challenge for you. Take 24 hours out of your day to “make yourself gay”. This is a challenge I would like to see on Oprah or Dr. Phil. If the very idea of doing such a thing is something impossible for you to embrace, you’re beginning to understand. I myself always use the term “sexual orientation” not “sexual preference” Where and how I choose to have sex, even the individual with whom I have sex with is a choice. Not the gender. That is something that is intrinsic in me, as I believe it is in everyone. I hope you will consider taking this challenge, if only to see how ridiculous the thought of choice is. It is not something one turns on and off like a faucet.


  1. Great post, Stone. I hope many people can read this and pause to reflect on how they treat others--not just (but particularly) gays.

    glad i don't have to take this challenge! :)

  2. Thanks for the compliment Toddy! We're both glad we don't have too! Challenges are plentiful enough and we still have a long road ahead!


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