My ‘Infantile’ Views on Gay Marriage

Derek Everything Else 22 Comments

Yesterday, I came across a blog post that discussed the debate over gay marriage. I read the post and wrote a quick comment about my general opinion on the matter. Later in the day, I checked the post again and found that another reader had responded to my comment by describing my logic as “infantile”.

Here’s a quick summary, even though it really isn’t relevant to the overall point of this post. I’m all for gay marriage. I believe that everyone deserves equality and that since such a change wouldn’t negatively affect the lives of anyone else, people shouldn’t stand in the way of other people’s rights.

I know, it’s simple and basic.

Regardless, being labeled “infantile” definitely stung. For a second. In the end, I just laughed it off and refrained from replying any further.

However, I did think about the matter throughout the afternoon. At times, I even began to wonder if this person was right, if perhaps I was actually dumb and simply unable to argue intelligently. After all, I had extreme difficulty in trying to devise a more credible and intellectual sounding opinion. In fact, my brain repeatedly came up empty as I searched for legal precedents, historical specifics or some flawless rhetoric to impressively spit out.

Feeling a bit confused, I wandered down to the beach just before sunset. As I was swimming in the ocean, I glanced around at the jungle-covered mountains and the rows of endless palm trees and I engaged in some polite conversation with a handful of local Mexicans also taking an evening dip.

And that’s when I discovered my problem. I am not dumb. I’ve just traveled too much.

Through extensive travel I’ve come to view certain issues as much simpler than many people believe them to be. I’m not saying that I can’t formulate a ‘deep’ argument or that these issues are not indeed serious, but that I am unable to understand why there is an issue in the first place. It seems grossly ‘infantile’ to me that ‘extending equal rights to a particular segment of society’ is even up for debate in the USA at all.

I firmly believe, in fact, I am undoubtedly certain that my philosophy stems from my exposure to an endless parade of all things ‘different’ – different people, beliefs, customs, behaviors, attitudes, fears, inequalities, preferences, hopes, challenges and lifestyles. I thrive on finding myself well out of my comfort zone and having to face the unknown and unfamiliar. It is a constant and most valuable source of education that I would NEVER trade for anything.

Ten years of traveling has led me to discard stereotypes, generalizations and misunderstandings, the same factors that actually fuel so many of the world’s current problems. I can honestly state that I see everyone, whether they worships cows, dance the Macarena in the shower, tattoo themselves to look like a lizard, live in an igloo or want to enter into a gay marriage, as fellow human beings and as equally deserving of the same respect as everyone else. Nobody can convince me that this attitude is wrong or misguided. And now that I have adopted this line of thinking, too many of the intense issues, and even wars, of our times, seem not only so unnecessary but so easily avoidable.

I stand by my simple belief that life is too short to spend time denying people freedom, happiness and equality. People can call it “infantile” if they wish. It doesn’t bother me at all. So it goes.

I’m perfectly content watching the sunset from a picturesque Mexican beach every night and playing around in the warm ocean water.

Am I the only one who feels that the lessons learned through traveling can lead to the elimination of problems such as inequality and discrimination?

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Comments 22

  1. I’m new to your blog and just going through your archives to catch up. So far I love it and am finding great inspiration in your stories. I have not done a lot of travelling but what I have done, mostly in SE Asia, has definitely broadened my world view. This post resonates with my own long held sensibilities. My mother has a theory that I somehow (I would give her the credit for this) missed out on the stress and judgement genes! As you expressed so eloquently here, my attitude is similarly “infantile” in that this seems like such a silly thing to be fighting over. Why is it an issue at all? It’s a simple matter of live and let live yet so many want to turn it into something more complicated. And this is true of so many of the conflicts we have with one another as human beings. As travellers the world over will attest, our similarities are so much more prevalent than our differences, no matter where we were born. How beautiful it would be if we all had the opportunity to realise this.

    1. Hey Jas – It would be absolutely wonderful if more people had a chance to realize this because you are indeed correct, the similarities far outweigh any of the differences, no matter who we’re talking about!

  2. Hi Earl,

    I liked your post a lot and I advocate the same to any “young” person who asks me what to do with their life. Go travel. But besides that, I think the problem, particularly in the western world, is systemic.

    Ever since a child is in school, s/he is expected to define, classify, organise, and conclude everything with true or false, right or wrong, my way or wrong way, etc. This is classic eastern v/s western clash of civilisation – one requires things to be undefined while the other is obsessed with defining everything or forcing order everywhere. We have to let go of this approach.

    So, on one hand, while there are 3 official genders in India, temples dedicated to gay deities, mythological stories about gods and godesses changing their genders at will, paradoxically there is an emerging lobby on the other hand that wants society to conform to recently constructed right-wing agendas. I don’t get it.

  3. Great post, Earl, shows the true spirit of somebody enamored with other cultures and nationalities! I also do agree that people who have undertaken some trips in their lives are much more open-minded than others. There is definitely a trend here and well, the explanation is clear: the more cultures you see, the more places you visit, the more people you get to know, you realize that we’re pretty much all the same and yet we’re all different from one another and thus judging someone by their sexuality or race or religion is just plain not clever. Also, looking at this from another point of you, why waste time condemning something or somebody, when you can spend this time with purpose on admiring something or somebody.

    Of course not only travelers are open-minded and think outside the box, I know people who have by now have not been outside the country (Russia) and yet travelers are able to embrace different lifestyles and changes more on a much more frequent basis.

    1. Hey Ira – Yes, that is a great question. Why waste time condemning something? It is so much more beneficial to accept and admire! There is a great deal of negativity associated with telling other people how they should live their life and in the end, it’s negativity that can be avoided through a little more exposure to the world. This is one of the main reasons why it is difficult for me to think about stopping my lifestyle.

      Thank you for that comment!

  4. I love where you say “everyone, whether they worships cows, dance the Macarena in the shower, tattoo themselves to look like a lizard, live in an igloo or want to enter into a gay marriage, as fellow human beings and as equally deserving of the same respect as everyone else.”

    You don’t need a complicated or intellectual argument when you’re just simply dead right. I haven’t traveled for 10 years quite yet, but I’ve been to about 20 countries, and I share your feelings—much of the rest of the world just seems to live and let live, and their societies haven’t spiraled out of control by any means. I love my country, but sadly, when I look at what’s going on in the US I frequently feel like it’s completely ludicrous. Fighting ridiculous wars (we haven’t evolved much—still killing each other because it’s simply easier than diplomacy). People wasting their time on such insanity—the religious right would rather prevent gays from living as they please than prevent murderous dictators from committing genocide. I’ve heard that from people, verbatim!

    I’d argue it’s their mindset that’s completely infantile. Most humans are so insecure with themselves, so afraid of what’s different, and constantly trying to rationalize their own ideas of reality that they’ll eat each other over it.

    Excellent post.

    1. Thanks for commenting Cody. That’s unbelievable that you heard those words about gay marriage and murderous dictators, and just plain sad. I’m also right there with you about war and the fact that it has become so commonplace in our society that nobody seems to mind that actual human lives are needlessly being destroyed. It’s the ‘real’ problems of the world that go unnoticed (such as the murderous dictators) as we focus on religious- or fear-driven issues that never should be issues in the first place.

  5. I am not sure how open-mindedness, respect, logic, and human decency are synonymous with infantile. It is sad to me that people would expend so much energy and (negative) emotion over the private lives of strangers. Ignorance and intolerance are much bigger problems in this world. Besides the fact that it is cruel to deny consenting adults the right to love like everyone else, if people are doing something that doesn’t directly hurt my heart and/or soul, I really don’t care what they are doing or see how it is a battle that I have business entering into. Marriage is birthed from the greatest human emotion. How can you can tell someone they can’t express an emotion? You should not feel stung by the comments of a weak insect with an ignorant stinger.

  6. Travel should be a required part of the education system. It enrages me that there are people who have nothing better to do than sit in judgment of another’s sexual preferences, and then use that judgment to withhold or extend certain privileges, when in fact they should be rights. That is what’s infantile. This is what Wikipedia had to say: “In modern democracies, a privilege is conditional and granted only after birth. By contrast, a right is an inherent, irrevocable entitlement held by all citizens or all human beings from birth.” So perhaps we should name it “The Bill of Privileges,” because I always thought that The First Amendment of Freedom of Religion included Freedom FROM Religion….but not so much the case when it comes to gay marriage, eh?

    1. Ash – I always wondered what it would be like if travel were a required part of education. Imagine the problems that would be eliminated by having all young adults benefiting (along with society in general) from a much broader view of the world – and then extending rights would never even be an issue.

  7. Three things the average person seems to do, in my experience:

    1. Worry about too many things.
    2. Stress about too many things.
    3. Overcomplicate too many things.

    Whoever called your succinct point of view “infantile” likely suffers from the three things I’ve listed above.

    In fact, if anyone tries to poke holes in what you argued – “I believe that everyone deserves equality and that since such a change wouldn’t negatively affect the lives of anyone else, people shouldn’t stand in the way of other people’s rights” – then they likely are sufferers of the three criteria I listed above. Because, the truth is, nothing will change negatively if marriage rights were amended.

    Those of us who travel and experience discomfort and push our limits don’t really have those three issues. Why? Because we know there’s no need to worry, stress, or complicate things. If we had done any of those three, we would never have left our boundaries. Once you drop the habits of worrying, stressing, and complicating, you realize that change doesn’t lead to discomfort. You realize that change, in almost every case, really doesn’t affect anything in your own life that you can’t control.

    1. You’ve basically come up with the perfect definition for travel – “the elimination of worry, stress and over-complication through experiences of discomfort outside of one’s normal boundaries”. And it’s reverse (the addition of worry, stress and over-complication through experiences of normality within one’s comfort zone) could be the perfect definition for a routine life.

      If you gave people a choose to follow one of those definitions, we would definitely see some different attitudes towards change.

      It’s funny, these days, friends and family sometimes tell me I’m TOO worry-free! And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

      Thanks Clay.

  8. Having a few legal precedents and other “intellectual” arguments to hand, I say your take is one of the best I’ve heard. Broaden your mind and you’ll see that there are lots more important things than trying to regulate love.

  9. The day one of my closest friends told me he was in love for the first time I couldn’t believe it! His grumpiness and unhappiness were gone! He had a beautiful sparkle in his eyes for the first time. Since then he has been transformed… he was in love with another guy.

    Well, now they are married, after 3 years of a wonderful and stable relationship.

    How can something so beautiful and magical (falling in love with someone) be classified by some other people as “wrong”?? I hope people open up their minds a bit more, to accept and respect other people with different views, with different believes.


  10. While I haven’t traveled nearly as much as probably most who read this site, I also share your infantile view. Why deny any human being a basic right to live and love? The fact that this is a major topic for debate in the United States befuddles me. Aren’t there more important things to focus on? Hunger? Poverty? Not to simplify it, but who cares if John marries Jim. If John and Jim are happy, more power to them. I would much rather be labeled infantile than ignorant.

  11. While I haven’t traveled nearly as much you, I can relate in many ways. When you step outside of your country (or even city) and get broader worldviews and experiences, your outlook on what’s important in life begins to change almost immediately.

    1. That is a good point you make…your outlook will change even by just stepping outside of your home city or state. Travel doesn’t have to be international – it is ensuring your life is full of ‘new’ experiences that matters most.

  12. Thank you for posting this. I agree with you completely and I think the J/O that thinks a person is ‘infantile’ for wanting basic rights for all human beings is very misguided when it comes to their values and priorities in life. I don’t understand how people can be filled with so much self-righteousness and hatred. It is sad.

    1. Hello Amanda…It is indeed sad and I’m simply confused as to why people would want to put so much effort into denying such basic rights for others. I certainly respect all opinions, I just don’t think there is much else to say if the core of an issue is equality for all. Thanks so much for adding your thoughts!

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