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The right to love and live free

October 31st, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Satenik Sargsyan

I don’t remember when I decided to be heterosexual. It never occurred to me that I could choose my sexuality.

All I remember was that as a teenager one day, I caught myself endlessly staring at the boy sitting next to me in my eighth grade math class. Was I merely attracted to him because he was of the opposite gender? Of course not! He reminded me of a smell of fresh red apples and seemed so unattainably striking! That’s all I remember about my first love.

What I didn’t know at that time is that some of my friends’ first experiences with falling in love were not quite as positive as my own. Those are the friends who I later found out are homosexual.

One of my greatest friends, USU graduate Kolby Kent Nelson, told me in a conversation a few years ago that most homosexuals go through a phase of “forcing themselves to be straight” even before their families. At that time I didn’t quite understand what was so hard in accepting one’s own sexuality. (After all, I was perfectly fine when I liked boys!)

Later, I looked up the word “straight” in a Merriam-Webster dictionary. The first definition of “straight” came up as “free from curves, bends, angles, or irregularities.” Let’s focus on the word “irregularity.” By calling heterosexuals “straight,” it seems like anything else sounds crooked, abnormal or irregular.

Because we all want to play our righteous role in the social contract, our own consciousness alarm goes off when the society as a whole sends us a signal that we are in any way on the wrong side of “normal.”

At the screening of 8: The Mormon Proposition, which discussed the Latter-day Saints church’s backing of California’s Proposition 8 campaign to ban gay marriage, the first question was the most profound, in my opinion: “What is the purpose of people of the same sex being lawfully and legally married?” Well, the counter-question would probably help us understand one of the possible answers: “What is the purpose of people of opposite sexes to get married?”

Don’t we all want gratification and legal recognition, if you will, of our love before the society? If not, wouldn’t we all be happy living in civil unions? What makes us think that one love is so different from another?

One of my favorite quotes about our tendency as humans to categorize ourselves into specific groups is by a world renowned Czech-American tennis player Martina Navratilova: “Labels are for filing. Labels are for clothes. Labels are not for people.”

Being in a group where everyone thinks alike is very soothing. Wouldn’t we all argue that positioning ourselves in a company where the great majority agrees upon certain topics is what we mostly look for? It makes us comfortable and gives us a sense of belonging.

On the other hand, doesn’t it also create more factions and conflicts because we see the “others” as different because they don’t think like “us” or believe in the same faith?

And because every single group is convinced that they know the ultimate truth, unattainable by others, doesn’t this give us a sense of artificial superiority? Religion, politics and cultures or any other social groupings prove this right.

Religion itself, meant to bring people together to better themselves, has led to the bloodiest and cruelest battles in the history of humankind. From the Christian Crusades to contemporary days, religion has been a reason or justification for cruelty. I am not arguing against religion, but rather the contrary: They all believe in what they consider the “truth.” We all have the right to our relative truth as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. After all, how does a life I live hurt anyone but myself?

And if this argument isn’t quite convincing, let’s look at a different one: the economics. The director of 8: The Mormon Proposition, who is openly homosexual, has had a stable relationship with his partner for eight years. The couple lives in Florida. Cowan told an audience of 400 Utah State University students that his partner, a hospital nurse, fears losing his health insurance.

“His legs are failing,” Cowan said. “When I went to my boss to ask him for health insurance, his answer was, ‘Well, you are not married.’”

While Cowan and his partner pay the same taxes, “send children to school by paying the same taxes, and pave roads that everyone drives on,” his partner can’t enjoy the same rights as their married heterosexual counterparts.

“The State of Florida doesn’t see him as anyone in my life but a roommate,” Cowan added.

What about the ideals that gave birth to this country, a citizen’s equal right to “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness’? Well, they are still there—on paper, but not in reality.


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  1. 3 Responses to “The right to love and live free”

  2. By Safiyyah Ballard on Oct 31, 2010

    I agree wholeheartedly, Satenik! Our natural sexual attractions are something that heterosexuals take for granted. We assume it’s normal and that any other attractions are not. I believe in the “Kinsey Scale,” in terms of sexuality. Everything is not always so simple.

  3. By Carrie on Nov 1, 2010

    Kindly worded and insightful, two things that we need more of in the world today. Thank you.

  4. By Atsuko Neely on Nov 1, 2010

    Where I come from, notion on morality is completely separated from religious beliefs. Everyone understand that one can be living perfectly moral life when when are not believing in God. Frankly I find it very difficult to understand why people in the US don’t get it. Marriage is a civic matter nothing more…

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