Growing up in the United Kingdom, Malaysia and New Zealand, and travelling extensively all my life has helped shape me into an open minded and culturally aware individual -- at least that is how I see myself. I have been around people from all walks of life, with a range of political and religious beliefs, differing moral and ethical standpoints and wildly varied sexual predilections. I usually find something to admire in people regardless of their beliefs.
I have, however, always enjoyed ruffling the feathers of people with overly conservative and entrenched positions. This is simply because, in my experience, these views are largely due to an indifference to try to meaningfully understand others, a lack of broader experiences, and a lack of empathy for people who they do not consider to be "normal", whatever that means. In essence I find ultra conservatives boring.
I launched BeautifulPeople.com in the U.K. and U.S. in 2005. It is now global and caters to internet daters who quite simply don't want to filter through all the riff raff on other dating sites. Like it or hate it, it is Darwinism -- it is the result of millions of years of evolution. We all want to be with someone we are attracted to. It may not be PC to say so but it is honest. People who claim otherwise are lying. I am beautiful, my wife is beautiful and my baby daughter is beautiful. I make no apologies for it.
To be accepted to BeautifulPeople.com, hopefuls have to be voted in by existing members of the opposite sex. The reason we only have opposite sex voting is that otherwise members (primarily the women) would vote strategically to eliminate the competition!
We have always accepted gay members into the BeautifulPeople community, but my gay friends have been on at me to launch exclusively gay versions of the site. Apparently being gay and having to vote in members of the opposite sex is "fucking boring". I can see that. Additionally, it recently dawned on me -- or if I am to be honest, was pointed out to me by a gay girlfriend of mine after a heated debate and too much red wine -- that what a gay woman finds attractive in a woman is very different to what a straight man finds attractive in a woman (she is gorgeous and I could not believe the women she was sleeping with). She was right of course -- my gay members had not been represented fairly on our flagship site so I hurried to launch our gay versions. Three months later here we are.
When I was trying to articulate what my gay sites would be all about for the "About" blurb on the sites I realized I had a problem: "We want to emulate the success that we have had on BeautifulPeople.com with over 650 marriages through unions founded on BeautifulPeople blah blah blah". Hold on, stop the press. It's illegal in most states for a gay man or woman to marry the person they love. That gave me pause for thought. How is it that in the bastion of the free world our good fellow citizens are not allowed to marry the person they love? Furthermore, how is it possible they are discriminated against, missing out on over 1,137 federal benefits, allowances and responsibilities? How is it possible they are not able to gain the important social recognition that comes with marriage? It is just plain wrong. I draw a parallel to the anti-miscegenation laws, the criminalization of interracial marriage which remained in force in many U.S. states until 1967. Now that was a bad idea.
As long as our members cannot enjoy the same benefits and recognition as their fellow citizens we will be campaigning. It's not about gay rights -- it's about human rights, pure and simple.
I decided I would launch a colorful campaign for marriage equality. I chose Bachmann and Palin because I have always wanted to see them kiss! Okay, typical straight male comment but I could not resist and it's kind of true! Jokes aside, all our featured political heavyweights -- barring Obama -- have been vociferous in their rallying cry against marriage equality. This goes particularly for Bachmann , whose husband has a clinic that purports to cure gay men which is... well... just cuckoo! He really needs to come out of the closet! Perhaps we could bring Bachmann around by appealing to her in a different way: "Michele, marriage is bloody tough. Why should you, I and all the other straight married couples suffer? Should not gay men and women suffer along with us!" Maybe that will work, appealing to her ethical side clearly does not.
As for the rest of them, it's a playful jab to show how many of our politicians are going to be on the wrong side of history -- silly rabbits.
I have been asked why Trump is holding the flowers. Personally I would have had Romney hold the bouquet, but it was purely an aesthetic decision -- the pink flowers just happened to match Trump's tie.
That our billboard campaign has been banned around the country was very surprising, scary and showed me firsthand what the LGBT community has been up against for so long. Not one to go quietly into the night, I have managed to get the uncensored images out on the back of trucks that are, as I write this, driving around New York to applause!
Beautiful gay men and beautiful gay women now get to define their own ideal of beauty on my sites. There have been sweeping victories for the LGBT community in the last year and there are more on the horizon. It is a shame that many of our political representatives are going to have to look back in years to come and say to themselves: "What was I thinking?" The problem is that they aren't really thinking.
Allowing same sex couples to marry does not do anything to lessen the sanctity of marriage between straight couples. It does not dilute the vows or commitment you make, and it is not to blame for the fact that you argue with your spouse and that you have not had sex in over a month. That's just marriage folks -- get over yourselves.
Follow Greg Hodge on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BeautifulPeep