La'Porsha Renae may have been a runner-up on American Idol, but she hasn't given fans much to look up to over the past year or so.
Last year, she made some strange statements regarding her feelings towards LGBTQ people following her ouster on the American Idol finale. First, she said she respected LGBTQ people as people.
“I am one of the people who don’t really agree with [the LGBTQ] lifestyle. I wasn’t brought up that way. It wasn’t how I was raised.” she told a press gaggle. “But I do have a lot of friends and a lot of people that I love dearly who are gay and homosexual and they’re such sweet, nice people. We should just respect each other’s differences and opinions and move on.”
Well, ok. We guess that's not offensive. Teeth-gritting tolerance is still tolerance. Kind of? Maybe?
That doesn't really hold a candle to what she said on Twitter on Tuesday.
Look, we're not here to discredit anyone's lived experience. We would never tell someone that their cultural experience of the world is invalid. Renae has her view and she's fully free to express her opinions. Nothing she said rises to the level of hate speech, and if she truly just changed sexualities like that, then more power to her. We're sure there's at least one scared gay teenager that wishes he or she could just snap their fingers and become straight.
That's why her comments are so damaging. Maybe she made a choice, maybe she was just trying to win an argument on Twitter, but nobody else that I've ever met has chosen his or her sexual orientation. Lots of gay kids I knew in high school were viciously bullied. Mostly, everyone turned out ok, but I wouldn't wish that abuse on anyone.
Couching sexuality as a choice gives rise to things like conversion therapy, in which people try to pray the gay away. That's pretty much psychic torture of the highest level; being told that God wants you to be different than you are. You don't want to afflict people that could already be locked in a struggle with their identity. You definitely don't want to just be callously dropping that assertion on Twitter.
So we're conflicted about this. Renae has a right to her life story, but she doesn't have a right to erase the lived experiences of millions of LGBTQ people.