“Do you like him?”


“I said, do you liiiike him?”

“Zach, put your face in the water. Straight arms. Side breathing.”

“But do you like him?”

“I like him as a person. What do you mean, do I like him? Do you mean as a friend, or as a boyfriend, or as a co-worker, or as a human?”

“Do you like him?”

This was a conversation with a recently nine year old boy, his swim lesson briefly paused for a rare moment of playfulness between guards. And for some reason, our splashing around made him wonder.

He wanted to know if I liked Jeff. Not if I loved him, or if I respected him, but if I liked him. Because at nine, that’s really all that matters.

But at what point do we begin to realize the subtle nuances of society? That liking something on facebook is different from liking people who like it is different from being sexually attracted to someone is different from respecting someone is different from being emotionally attracted to someone is different from admiring someone is different from loving someone, and that none of these things are any less valid because of gender or sexuality?

Most of us realize this at some point. That “liking” someone isn’t just noticing the physical manifestations of their genetics. It isn’t pulling hair, or stealing ribbons, or pushing off the swings.

It’s about love. It’s about respect. And it’s about mutuality.

And regardless of gender or sexuality, “liking” someone should always be okay. And loving someone. And marrying them. And loving them until death do you part–or divorce. Because that’s okay too.

A friend of mine is involved with an organization seeking not just legal change, but social change. Not merely tolerance, but acceptance. True equality. And her work is powerful and wonderful and amazing and inspiring.

Reteaching Gender and Sexuality from PUT THIS ON THE MAP on Vimeo.

Watch it. And think about it. Because “liking” someone is always okay, regardless of their genitalia or chromosomes or of the gender schema society has set forth for them.

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November 22, 2010

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