No matter what people say about Referendum 74, the same-sex marriage bill is not just about the institution of marriage, it is also about gay love.
Some opponents of Ref. 74 are honestly afraid that a minority group will redefine the meaning of marriage. Others are simply against the idea of same-sex marriage because a “nonfiction” novel authoritatively states all of the detrimental effects it will have on society if two fabulously dressed men tie the knot. Religious fanatics seem more inclined to label such a love impossible and disgusting as opposed to researching the colorful history that comes from Oscar Wilde, Judy Garland, and the beautiful Ellen DeGeneres.
My apologies, not everyone who associates themselves with a spiritual doctrine regards such a controversial issue through a white and black lens. I am privileged to be friends with many Christians and Muslims that are capable of seeing the current political movement through the diverse hues of the rainbow. Most of them have expressed nothing but support and happiness. What have I done to deserve such kind people in my life? My straight allies give me hope. Perhaps if I were to provide a detailed exposition of what my life is really like, then naysayers will have second thoughts to why they should not approve Ref. 74.
It should not be surprising when I confess that I am gay; I am gay – so gay that even the straightest guy will want to explore my gayness. Mother taught me better than that, so I always decline those curious sailors. However, I digress. As an adolescent boy, I did not possess the courage to research what homosexuality is. Upon turning 18, I said to myself, and quite dutifully too, “Joseph you are an adult now. So what if people think you are mentally ill? Why do you not research about homosexuality?”
One late night, while my family was sleeping, I logged on to my computer and researched who I am. According to the Pan American Health Organization (the oldest public health organization in the world), “There is a professional consensus that homosexuality represents a natural variation of human sexuality without any intrinsically harmful effect on the health of those concerned or those close to them. In none of its individual manifestations does homosexuality constitute a disorder or an illness, and therefore it requires no cure.” As I read, both my hands literally trembled.
For 18 years I had lived in fear of being myself because popular belief had placed homosexuality as a sickness. Elementary school, middle school and high school were like trilogies containing angst that would astonish even Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. I feared that the public would find out that I wanted to hold hands and kiss boys; I grew depressed when school dances approached, because I understood too well that confessing to him would reveal too much about me. Throughout my freshman and sophomore years in high school, I feverishly prayed to a higher power to take away the ability to love. I tried; I cried; and I died every Sunday morning as my mother and father bowed their heads to recite the Lord’s Prayer – perfectly every time.
When looking back on the naïve youth that used to sit on the pews and gaze at the glittering stained glass windows in hope of a divine exorcism, a multitude of strange emotions boils inside of me. At random intervals, while introspection is waltzing with melancholy, anger breaks between them and starts tangoing, followed by a discoing frustration.
The rawest and most physical way to explore the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Questioning-Intersexual community is to dive into the steamy atmosphere of a nightclub. After all, the Underground Railroad for the LGBTQI individual was the nightclub. Admission was $10. I proudly swiped my card at the register. “Have fun,” said the cashier, and that is exactly what I did. Thirty minutes after my timid entrance, the pounding beat of dub-step and Katy Perry songs had taken over me – no wonder the Stonewall Riots happened. How dare they stop us?
The shirt came off, the pants came off, and my friends had to stop me from shedding everything else. What was this sensation? I felt free and completely liberated. No one was there to whisper behind my back. Beyoncé and Lady Gaga sang too loudly in the room for anyone to pay attention to the ghosts of Westboro Baptist Church past, present, and yet to come. I returned home reenergized. As I watched the sun creep up the horizon through my bedroom window, I lay still on my bed and thought: It is time for me to disregard what people had to say about my life and concentrate what I want; it is time for me to grab the handlebars of my fate and drive forward into the uncertain abyss.
On Oct. 18, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that those in favor of Ref. 74 were leading by 52.9 percent, while 46.6 percent opposed. This article should remind members of the LGBTQI community the seriousness of voting. In less than a week, a majority will determine whether a minority can marry the ones that they love. It is shocking to see how advertising and campaigning has tipped the scale of same-sex marriage support so drastically within a few months. On Oct. 25, CBS reported that, “Support for Ref. 74 is under 50 percent, and the measure to legalize same-sex marriage enjoys only a narrow four-point lead, according to a new statewide Elway Poll.” No matter how certain we may feel about the outcome of a momentous bill such as Ref. 74, times still remain uncertain.
As I sat down in the dining room of my house, reading the arguments for and against Ref. 74, I could not help but feel offended towards the entire voting process. Why is the state of Washington deciding for me who I can marry? Did my preference for men upset heterosexual couples so much that they needed to discuss such private matters in Olympia? I grabbed my favorite black pen and stabbed the voting sheet with it, filling in the approve bubble. “Please let this pass,” I prayed.
Finally done, I sat there, reflecting on the reality of the Nov. 6 ballot. If Ref. 74 does not pass, LGBTQI youths will return to their hiding spots once again, dreading the public and hating themselves. No more of that, Ref. 74 must pass. We cannot wait another year. Change must happen now, because being gay is OK.
This story was originally published by The Thunderword.