Some people see being gay as a defect, a flaw, or a subversion of the natural order. A commenter on another post, who did not seem antagonistic to gay rights in general, called being gay a birth defect much like one of his own:

Another segment of the population that seems to ignore science are the gays who refuse to accept that their circumstance in life is the result of a birth defect. Lots of us a born with some kind of defect. Some have a tail, others have webbed feet or have a missing or deformed limb. I was born with hammer toes and I have no feeling or any use of my legs, below my knees. And I have scoliosis. But, I and the guy with five fingers sticking out of his shoulder, don’t go around telling everyone that we’re normal. Many gays do this all the time. There’s nothing wrong with being defective but denying the obvious seems a little odd, to me.

I don’t really like this conceptualization of defect versus variation, but since this mindset is common it is worth puzzling out: What is the difference between being atypical versus being defective?

In a normal distribution most people fall in the middle of the bell curve while others are born on the tail ends, the variations outside the norms. A defect, on the other hand, is something that doesn’t work right, an imperfection.

I am abnormally tall. At over 6’3” my height is in the 99th percentile of American men my age. Does that make my height in the outlying 1% a defect or a variation? Looking farther outside of the norms, Yao Ming defective because he is 7’6” or Peter Dinklage defective at 4’5”?

I am also gay. Given that about 5% of the population is gay, does my homosexuality in the outlying 5% make me defective or a standard variation? Statistically, my height is more “abnormal” than my queerness.

If variation is a question of statistics, defectiveness derives from a lack of proper functioning. Something is defective if it doesn’t work right.

Staying with height for a moment, Ming’s “defect” makes him a star of the MBA, while Dinklage’s “defect” makes him a star of Game of Thrones. I like being “abnormally” tall, except when confronted by tight airline seats and short beds.

As for how I experience my sexuality, it feels more like a variation than a defect to me. My body’s sexual functions work just fine, so no defect there. And just as my feet prefer hiking over jogging, my body’s sexual urges prefer men over women. In both cases my parts work just fine, they just have an orientation or preference that feel beyond my control.

Of course the primary reason gay people are considered defective is the decreased likelihood we will have children. But A) that was my choice, not a lack of ability, and B) not every human being needs to procreate for the species to survive. In fact, at our current populations, it is a benefit if some people choose not to.

My sexual preference is not the same as the majority’s, but as  one in twenty people vary in this way it seems a rather unexceptional.

And my body’s sexual bits works quite well thank you, so they are not defective. I am quite sure my procreative functions work equally well, leaving the matter of procreation my personal choice, and not a defect.