Before you report me to the police, allow me to exculpate myself. I am hereby declaring, hand on the Merriam-Webster dictionary, that no sexual preferences, except perhaps male heterosexuality, can ever be deemed offensive or in any way objectionable.
They are all, except perhaps male heterosexuality, free of any moral component and therefore immune to any other than laudatory judgement. Any attempt to exercise any other than laudatory judgement is immoral, socially unacceptable and possibly illegal.
I’m glad we’ve clarified this point so I can get on with it, starting with the explanation of what the title above means. What’s offensive isn’t any sexual preference, but the term itself.
As a lifelong student of English, I’m happy it’s developing heightened sensitivity to all-important nuances. ‘Sexual preference’ itself was a welcome embellishment on the Biblical ‘abomination’ and the later, somewhat judgemental, ‘perversion’. Now the term ‘sexual preference’ itself has become an abomination and perversion.
This is so obvious that one wonders why it took the world so long to realise it. At least realise it the world finally did. The epiphany came during the vetting hearing of Amy Coney Barrett, nominee for the US Supreme Court.
Mrs Barrett is a devout Catholic, which makes her highly suspect to fearless fighters for LGBTQ+ rights (I hope I got the acronym right — all those letters are terribly confusing, though I do love the open-ended plus).
The suspicion is that, if ascending to the Court, she’ll start sticking iron rods into the wheel-spokes of progress, especially the part that involves abortion and the sort of practices that the Bible describes as abominations.
That’s why during her hearing Mrs Barrett was asked point-blank if she’d ever try to reverse the 2015 ruling that allowed homosexuals to marry in all 50 states, as is their constitutional right.
(At the time, I re-read the text of the US Constitution and all its 27 amendments for confirmation. Alas, my eyesight no longer being what it used to be, I couldn’t find any mention of that constitutional right, although I’m sure it must be there somewhere.)
The trap was laid, and Mrs Barrett promptly fell into it. “I do want to be clear,” she said, evading a direct answer to the question, “that I have never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference and would not discriminate on the basis of sexual preference.” Gotcha!
Senator Mazie Hirono jumped up and declared that Mrs Barrett is a factor of clear and present danger to LGBTQ+ rights. As a Catholic, a conservative and a Trump nominee, she’s already under a cloud of suspicion. And now her use of ‘sexual preference’ has turned a suspicion into a certainty.
Only rabid “anti-LGBTQ activists”, said Sen. Hirono, use that offensive term. It implies that homosexuality is a matter of personal choice, rather than an immutable part of a person’s identity.
People no more choose to be homosexual than they choose to be blue-eyed or, say, Latino, tweeted Ritchie Torres, a Democratic congressional candidate in New York: “As a gay man, I do not have a ‘sexual preference’ any more than I have a racial preference or an ethnic preference.”
That shows that Mr Torres is so far behind the times that I, acting on behalf of progress, demand an apology. For these days race is very much a matter of personal choice. A white person can identify as black, and anyone who has an issue with that is instantly branded as a fascist or some such.
But if we reluctantly stay at Mr Torres’s stage of progress and agree that race isn’t a preference but a fact, then there’s a slight error in his observation. You see, a person born to a race can’t, or at least until recently couldn’t, opt not to be a member of that race.
However, a person born homosexual can exercise the option of not practising it for social, moral or – God forbid – religious reasons. After all, both heterosexual and homosexual people used to renounce the practice of their sexuality and choose a monastic life instead, so such abstinence is possible.
Anyway, forget I’ve said that. It’s just that I momentarily relapsed into my former self, the way I was before I became a champion of progress. And my new self rejoices at the speed with which Merriam-Webster reacted to that momentous lexical discovery.
Within hours of that hearing, the dictionary updated its entry of ‘sexual preference’ by identifying it as offensive. Before progress gathered speed, it used to take a new usage decades to make its way into reputable dictionaries. Now, largely thanks to the technological advances of which modernity is so justly proud, it takes hours.
The proper, inoffensive, term is now ‘orientation’, not ‘preference’. Myself, I’d prefer ‘sexual identity’, which would be more consonant with progressive usage.
A person could then have both a gender identity and a sexual identity, with the former also being a changeable preference and the latter defying any choice… sorry, I’m getting dreadfully tangled up in the labyrinthine workings of progress. But you know what I mean.
Sen. Hirono gleefully remarked that, though Mrs Barrett had refused to give a direct answer to that tricky question, her silence, coupled with her use of the newly offensive term, “spoke volumes”. Quite. As in the volumes of the Merriam-Webster dictionary.