A few weeks ago, a new acquaintance, who had read some of my essays about homosexuality, asked me what words I use to describe myself. Would I describe myself as gay? Homosexual? Same-sex attracted? When I tried to deflect the question with something about not being too concerned about what words to use, he responded with surprise: shouldn’t a philosopher be very concerned about using precisely the right word?
He’s right, of course. I certainly think a lot about how best to describe myself. As a celibate Christian, I think about my sexuality in the a way that is, at least in some important respects, very different from the way Ellen DeGeneres, Neil Patrick Harris, or Lady Gaga think about theirs. So why would I call myself “gay”?