Why your rigid ‘born this way’ stance won’t cure homophobia

The rainbow flag has been a symbol of unity in the gay community. But fractures are developing over the question of biological determinism.

In her new book “Straight Expectations,” radical feminist writer and campaigner Julie Bindel has recently and very publicly claimed that she’s not convinced by the scientific argument that sexual orientation is innate and she feels she chose to be lesbian.

She received a vitriolic response from the gay community on social media, with comments calling her “stupid,” “confused,” and “an awful human being.” One reader comment on Pink News stated that “Julie Bindell’s [sic] suggestion that being gay is a choice is downright offensive to me!”

This fury at claims we choose our sexuality is nothing new. Aside from the controversy that Bindel has courted for years, back in 2012, “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon received a similar response from LGBT activists when, in an interview with the New York Times, she explained that being gay was a choice for her.

Nixon and Bindel are by no means the first to claim that lesbianism, in particular, can be a choice, though they are perhaps the highest-profile women in recent times to have drawn such intense ire by voicing this view.

The notion of political lesbianism based on a feminist rejection of heteropatriarchy has been around since the 1970s, and there is also research suggesting that women’s sexuality is more fluid than men’s. But what exactly is so offensive about this suggestion, and why does the gay community react to it with such scorn? …