chapter  3
32 Pages

Stories of Choice

I began this research intending to compare choosers and non-choosers, and I kept a two-by-two table ("Gender: Male/Female" by "Account: Choice/Nonchoice") on my wall, which I planned to fill with names as I conducted my interviews. But I had a terrible time figuring out where people fit; I would place a name in the "Choice" column one day, and move it over to the "Non-choice" column the next. Gay and lesbian accounts of choice, I eventually admitted, cannot be so neatly dichotomized. A more accurate typology describes three approaches to the role of choice: 1 Most respondents claim both choice and nonchoice, by carefully distinguishing what can and cannot be chosen-roughly, "doing" and "being." Those who do not make such a distinction feel either that they had exercised no choice at all, or that they had fully chosen their sexual identities. As they explain their experiences and their accounts, they theorize the relationships between such concepts as essence and existence, choice and determination, sexual preference and sexual orientation.2