Warning: This post is of a sexual nature, some people will find it confronting, even though it is in no way explicit.
The outcome of the DOMA/Prop 8 debate is a positive one. The ongoing movement to equality, whatever the variables, can only be a good thing.
Yes there will be the usual backlash - my favourite is the many variations of "Now THEY have the right to get married, what is to stop someone marrying a poodle? It's sick, SICK".
And yet there is some level of irony surrounding those assertions that sexual preference is a deviance.
Sick? Sick minded? Those that criticize would do well to take a long hard look at themselves for their own "Deviances".
The most useful tool in my bag when finding myself in an unpleasant discussion regarding sexuality and relationships, is usually trotted out when the conversation invariably gets to the "But it's not natural/disgusting" bit.
I generally look the person in the face, and say something like:
"I'm going to ask you a question, a personal one, but I don't need you to answer it. I just need you to think about it, you up for that?"
(usually my target is so pumped by their apparently unassailable position, and weight of other supporting opinions at the gathering, that they readily agree.)
"You are going to ask me a question, but I don't have to answer?"
"Fine, ask away."
"Now in order for me to make my point, I'd like to ask you to close your eyes, you don't have to, but if you could humour me...."
(It's surprising how many people close their eyes immediately)
"Okay" they say.
"Now I just want you to think for a moment, just for yourself and remember you don't have to tell me...."
"So here's my question: Of all the things you've ever done, or want to do... what's the one thing that really gets you off sexually".
Not surprisingly if their eyes are closed, they spring back open at this point.
"I know it is, but I am not asking you to tell me or anyone else about it, because it's personal. But think about it, what really floats your boat?"
The response is varied, but ranges from embarrassment to aggression, but I push on.
"What ever you are thinking, whatever it is that is driving blood to your groin, no matter what level of debauchery it covers, somewhere in this world is a group of people who would put you in prison for it. Because it is deemed unnatural, and sick. In some countries you would be persecuted by neighbours if they found out, maybe even murdered because of the thing, that thing that's in your head that gets you off."
"In supporting actions against people based on a sexuality that you disagree with, you are agreeing that countries and religions that find what you are thinking abhorrent have the right to act against you."
A change of subject often ensues.
Some such conversations have happened as a result of me discussing my book.
The Narrator is not referred to by gender or name anywhere in the book, not a pronoun, not a preference to stand up or sit down to pee... nothing.
Most people think the Narrator is a man, which is understandable I guess, I am a man, and I wrote the book, so it probably follows that The Narrator is a man. What I find interesting is that most people bring up examples of WHY the Narrator is male that revolve around situations rather than feel.
The best thing to say to me is "I just feel like the narrator is male."
"The Narrator is male because he wears a satchel" - from someone who is female and owns a couple of satchels.
"The Narrator is male because of that scene where he is sitting on the porch with the policeman drinking beer." From a person who is female and has BOUGHT me beer, and one for herself.
"But The Narrator's partner is female, and there are parts where there is mention of them having sex." From someone who has lesbian friends, and without any mention of a penis involved in the coupling.(which is good, I don't want to ever have to consider writing anything that even sounds like "My throbbing member" or "Thrust")
Is the Narrator male? Probably. The mechanism isn't there to create some arty writing style, it is there only to strengthen the book, as it's a diarisation of someone who wants to be erased. If there was a solid picture of gender and name then you, the reader, would have memory of them.... and would thwart their life's work.
What I find interesting is that even the most even minded folk often seem to apply labels primarily based on gender stereo-types.
Back on to the matter of sexuality - and my opening example, I'll end with this from a male perspective:
Why is it that homosexuality between men is considered not so great, and yet an overwhelming majority of men are more than happy to search out girl-on-girl porn?
Why is it that homosexuality is considered not so great BUT one of the most popular streams of the porn trade is multiple men and one girl, some in acts that involve penises in such close proximity that they can't help but not only touch each other, but are ACTIVELY sliding around in the same region?
But perhaps that's the thing that people see in their heads when I ask them what gets them off.... and perhaps they don't hate the gays, but are ashamed of themselves for hating something that they subconsciously desire, because their upbringing says it will damn them.
Andrew Webber is an Australian author based in the Middle East (for now).
Erasure is available in paperback and eReader format at Amazon and all good online book sellers.