I have no idea what it's like to be a kumquat. Juicy, I suppose.
Similarly, I can't tell you precisely what it's like to be Pharaoh, a single mother or a papier mache naked mole rat.
We are all trapped in our own bodies, limited to our own perspectives and defined by our own experiences.
So as the nation continues to grapple with gay marriage, why do so many heterosexual people assume they understand homosexuals?
I'm not gay. I knew this at least from when I was in the third grade and had a crush on the sixth grade girl who monitored our lunch table. (Sorry, Debbie Something. You missed your chance.)
I can't imagine being gay. I've had close, loving relationships with male friends that have lasted longer than any I've yet had with a woman. But I've never felt sexually attracted to them. Brad Pitt and George Clooney are good-looking men. But when I see their movies, I want their women, not their bodies.
I had a gay roomate once, and the worst thing I could say about him was that he couldn't pay his share of the rent. Which might just be more evidence for equal treatment: Gay people can be financially irresponsible, too!
So when opponents to gay marriage deride homosexuals for pursuing a degenerate lifestyle choice, I wonder: When and why did these critics choose to be heterosexual?
Ah, yes. The natural order of things requires a man mate with a woman to perpetuate humanity and all that stuff. But what is natural? Babies are born with Huntington's disease or cleft lips. Some have genetic conditions that prevent them from growing to average heights, speaking or surviving to their 10th birthdays.
In no way am I implying homosexuality is a birth defect. But so what if it is? Everything human is by definition natural. Does it make sense to deny someone his rights because of how he was born? Why is this any different from Jim Crow laws discriminating against blacks?
Nobody who has ever bothered to talk to a homosexual person would come away convinced they made a conscious choice to be gay. You are what you are. Just ask Ted Haggard. Or not, considering he still thinks he can be "cured." And I'm sure we all wish him the best of luck with that.
I don't know what it's like for gay folks to realize who they are. I imagine it's often difficult to contend with a judgmental society and the prospect of harassment and ridicule. But if it was anything like it was for me, I imagine it doesn't take long to realize who you find attractive.
The only rational reason for opposing gay marriage rights is if you still believe homosexuals have chosen their sexual orientation and you want to punish them for it.
You believe allowing homosexuals to marry will destroy an institution that already fails more than it succeeds in this country. You have no idea how much "traditional marriage" has changed (because the most traditional and widely practiced type of marriage in the world has been polygamy). You believe two committed, loving adults could not possibly provide a better home for children than single parents or a series of foster homes. You might even believe two committed, loving adults should not share the same employment, medical and inheritance rights of straight couples.
If you are a religious person against gay marriage, you believe God created a breed of people inferior to you and unworthy of equal rights, much less your love and compassion. You believe tolerance for people different from you should not be tolerated.
Come to think of it, if you believe all this nonesense, you might just be a kumquat. Juicy, right?