Target: U.S. presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson
Goal: Demand apology from presidential candidate who implied that prison rape is proof that “being gay is a choice.”
U.S. presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson recently declared his belief that homosexuality is a choice, using the idea that many people who go to prison “come out gay” as evidence to back this up. During an interview on CNN, he said that he believes being gay is a choice because “a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight—and when they come out, they’re gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question.”
This comment is not only homophobic and counter to general scientific consensus that says sexuality is not a choice, but is incredibly ignorant and insensitive to victims of prison rape. Due to the conditions of the U.S. prison system and widespread apathy about prison rape, many people who spend time in prison come out as rape victims. This does not make them gay. This means that they were coerced into sex by a system of domination and sexual abuse that is ignored or even perpetuated by prison guards.
Being raped by someone of the same gender does not make the victim gay. To suggest that it does is mind-blowingly homophobic and offensive. Such gross bigotry and ignorance about the reality of prison rape is extremely unbecoming of someone who is looking to become the President of the United States of America. Demand that Dr. Carson immediately rescind his comments and apologize for his homophobia and shocking insensitivity to rape victims.
Dear Dr. Carson,
I was appalled to find out about your comments on a recent CNN interview involving homosexual individuals and whether or not sexual orientation is a choice. In order to defend your belief than it is in fact a choice, you said that people who go to prison often “go in straight” and “come out gay.” This assertion is not only profoundly incorrect, it’s incredibly offensive to the people who suffer horrific abuse within the U.S. prison system.
People who spend time in prison do not “come out gay.” Many people in prison are raped by fellow inmates who are, of course, the same gender as they are. Prison rape is incredibly rampant, whether it’s violent or coercive. Many inmates must submit to rape just to survive. Rape, as you should know, is not about sexuality but rather about dominance and power. I would also hope you would be aware of the fact that being raped by someone of the same sex does not turn a person gay. Straight people who go into prison often come out of prison as straight rape victims, not gay people.
If you’re going to run for President of the United States, you should understand how sexuality works and you should be aware of the reality of rape and how rampant prison rape and sexual abuse is. You’ve shown an extreme level of ignorance on these issues which has caused you to make incredibly offensive statements. I demand that you withdraw the assertions made in the interview, apologize, and educate yourself on these problems.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Luis Argerich via Wikimedia Commons