Jesse Klug (pictured), a sophomore soccer player at Division I Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, published an open letter on Out Sports this week challenging people who still believe that being gay is a choice.
In the essay titled “An open letter to those who disapprove of homosexuality,” the 19-year-old athlete takes on people who oppose homosexuality, not by ranting and raving, but by asking for a respectful dialogue.
“I respect you,” Klug writes. “I respect your opinion, although it differs from mine. I have listened to, digested, and have decided to thoughtfully respond to your arguments. I truly hope you do the same.”
He continues by saying, “I feel compelled to write this letter with the intent of opening a dialogue … Speaking from personal experience, almost all of the homophobia I have witnessed in our society is fueled by one simple notion — being gay is a choice.”
“I am a gay man,” he writes. “I have always been gay. And I firmly believe I will always be gay. But I promise you, I tried not to be. We all have.”
He then takes on “ex-gays” and other people who believe homosexuality can be cured: “If you are straight, and someone sat you down and tried to turn you into a homosexual, could they? Do you think your sexual orientation could be changed?”
“When straight people are asked, ‘When did you choose to be straight?’ they usually can’t answer,” Klug continues. “They say what we say: that it is just the way they are. Just like heterosexual people do not consciously decide to be straight, I did not choose to be gay.”
He concludes his letter by writing, “Sexual orientation should not be a defining characteristic of a person … [Most] of the time I spend with my teammates is on the field. In that context, sexual orientation holds absolutely zero significance. My teammates view me as an athlete; as part of their team working towards the same goals. We struggle and succeed together … Being gay is part of who I am; it is not what I am.”