Gay marriage has finally been put back on the agenda after so long in the proverbial closet.
Last week, the NSW Upper House passed a Greens motion to call on the Federal Government to legalise gay marriage, a move that may have been emboldened by US President Barack Obama’s recent support for gay marriage.
While this doesn’t allow gay people to marry, it could put pressure on the federal Parliament to call a conscience vote on the issue.
For too long, many conservatives have dismissed attempts at a discussion on gay marriage or sexuality in general with ‘I believe marriage is between a man and a woman’ or ‘I believe in traditional values’. However to me, the political rhetoric surrounding gay marriage underscores the flawed way in which sexuality is generally viewed.
Most people tend to think of sexuality as a case of black and white, with bisexual, pansexual and transgender people as some shade of grey.
We are much more comfortable with the idea of an ordered world where everyone’s sexuality fits into neat little boxes.
In reality, sexuality is a lot more complex than what many would like to believe.
What is often forgotten is how artificial the designation of ‘gay’ actually is.
You see, gay originally meant ‘happy’ or ‘carefree’.
However, over time it became a sort of slang word for immorality and sexual promiscuity.
In the 17th century, a gay woman was a prostitute, not a lesbian.
Also a gay man was a womaniser and a gay house was a brothel.
However, since roughly the 1920s (no one is quite sure exactly when) ‘gay’ came to mean homosexual, most likely as a reflection of how immoral people thought same-sex relationships were.
So the term gay piggybacked on slang for womanisers and hookers and was ‘appropriated’ into its current form by gay-haters.
To me, this underlines the incredibly artificial nature of how we define straight and gay.
In fact, the attempt to define certain people as ‘gay’ in a funny way defined what ‘straight’ is.
The term ‘straight’ was originally gay slang derived from the term ‘straight and narrow’ and referred to men who had supposedly stopped being homosexual.
However, it too over time changed its meaning and came to mean any heterosexual person.
There are certain questions that don’t really become part of the national discussion. Gay marriage has, at least for now.
Still, we as a nation and a society should question what need we have for sexual labels at all.
Some people like men, some like women, a few even like trees.
Should the next generation be brought up in a society that more often than not takes a ‘choose one’ attitute towards sexuality? This would be when one’s sexuality is not chosen.
Instead, we should acknowledge first and foremost that humans are inherently sexual beings.
If we could do that, then surely we could define marriage as being between two people.
Where do you stand on this issue?
What do you think the social implications of legalising same-sex marriage would be if any?
Let me know at email@example.com or on Twitter at @Lucas_Forbes.