Does “Gender” Really Matter?

Every Valentine’s Day or some other friendly holiday during my time as a student at a small Catholic middle school, student council members sold candy grams, always lollipops.  Boys would send candy grams to their secret crushes and vice versa with girls.  The most popular kid would expect her desk to be stacked with lollipops in the shapes of hearts or shamrocks.

I never received candy grams when I was in middle school.  More pathetically, I sent candy grams to myself.  I would walk up to the table where student council members were taking orders during recess, and I would say, “To Vincent.”  When they asked “From who?” I replied, “The Spice Girls.”  (Yes, when I was in middle school, I was a “Spice Boy.”)

I liked poking fun at myself, trying to get everyone’s attention, able to elicit cheap laughs from my classmates.  But playing a practical joke on myself has its roots in sadness.  I was never lucky with girls, dating back to my first crush in kindergarten: my teacher.  In eighth grade, I bought a Best Buy gift card worth $20 as a Christmas present for a girl.  I asked her friend to give it to her.  When I asked the friend how the girl responded to gift card, the friend imitated her by shrugging her shoulders and groaning.

I always reassured myself that there was a girl for me–“the one.”  As a kid, I believed in the concept of the “soul mate.”  I most likely heard it from television because I never read when I was kid, so I cannot attribute it to romantic literature.

My explanation went like this: Every person has that special someone chosen by God.  God is all-knowing and infallible.  He makes it obvious when we meet our soul mate, like when one finds oneself stuttering and stammering to that person on first meeting.

In seventh grade, we had a week dedicated to sex education, and the person who taught the class was a priest.  He was bald and the top of his head reddened like a tomato when explaining something sensitive.  The priest created a box for us to insert questions into.

Throughout the week, I kept wondering about gay people.  I thought about if they were allowed to fall in love, have sex, or get married.  The topic of homosexuality wasn’t brought up in class, but the week ended before I could insert my question.

However, I expected the same response, that each one of us has a soul mate and if that person was the same sex, then it was still meant to be since God is infallible in matching soul mates.

But it wasn’t until my freshmen year of high school, at the same Catholic school, that I learned homosexuality was sinful.  Or rather, according to the edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church I used back then, the Church condemned hatred and prejudice directed toward homosexuals, but it also condemned homosexual acts.  “Hate the sin, not the sinner,” our priest teachers taught us.

I love women (especially sexy women), but I didn’t choose to be straight.  My kindergarten teacher was my first love; she triggered a tingling warmth in my heart, a warmth which was ineffable.  No one chooses to be heterosexual or homosexual.  It just happens.

Opponents of Referendum 74 fear that it will change the definition of marriage.  The Washington State Legislature defines marriage as “a civil contract between a male and a female who have each attained the age of eighteen years, and who are otherwise capable.”  According to a commercial opposing R-74, same-sex couples already have the same rights as different-sex couples under the domestic partnership laws.

What’s with the fear of altering the definition of marriage?  It’s just a civil contract.  At the heart of it, I believe it deals with natural versus unnatural.  People get married for one reason: love.  Or rather, people should get married because of love.  Same-sex couples who are in a loving relationship are better productive members of society than a legally married husband and wife who bicker all the time.  True, same-sex couples may possess similar benefits under the domestic partnership laws, but the bond of matrimony solidifies the commitment, thus extending completely their proper rights.

Seemingly, opponents of R-74 are more concerned about the connotation of marriage, not the denotation.  But love is love, regardless of the sex of one’s soul mate.