He immediately responded with a question of his own: “When you go to the gas station, do you put the pump in the gas tank or the exhaust pipe?” He then clarified that everyone understands intuitively the purposes for which the pump, tank and exhaust are made. His point was that it is, or should be, the same with sexuality.
KLM, or Royal Dutch Airlines, posted a tweet highlighting the exact same point, though unintentionally. For the annual Pride Amsterdam celebration that ended on Sunday, the national airline of the Netherlands tweeted the following image and caption, unironically:
“It doesn’t matter who you click with.” Except it does if you are interested in things like airplane seatbelts working as intended. Twitter users with common sense were quick to point out that two of the three combinations in the picture do not actually work. Just like if you were to pump gas into an exhaust pipe, if you were to try to buckle the seatbelts in either of the top two ways, you would be doing it wrong, and dangerously so.
Now, Dutch Airlines’ stance on the issue does not really concern me. I’m not about to call for a boycott, because boycotts rarely work and they are silly, but also because I fly KLM regularly between the United States and the Netherlands as I study in Germany, and I’ve had almost invariable positive experience with them. They are one of the safest airlines in the world, in fact, their marketing department’s departure from that rule notwithstanding.
What I find interesting is that, in most cases, everyone understands that it is common sense that certain parts don’t go together, but when it comes to sexuality, that logic is dismissed. Proponents of homosexuality undoubtedly have arguments about why this particular functionalist argument is not important in the grand scheme of love and relationship, which is fine as a counter-argument. But just as no one would claim that anyone who recommends buckling a seatbelt properly or putting the gas pump in the gas tank has a phobia, nor that they think trying to click mismatching seatbelts is icky, so traditional marriage proponents generally don’t base their opposition to homosexuality on disgust. Certainly, some do, but to accuse most opponents of gay marriage or homosexuality of basing their stance on such feelings is disingenouous.
In other words, even those who think the analogy is false can acknowledge that well-meaning people find it a great analogy. Rather than attribute the position that heterosexuality alone is proper to human nature to fear, hate or thinking anything else is gross, perhaps gay rights advocates might realize that there are logical reasons why people might not share their views. Royal Dutch Airlines’ hilarious misstep of a tweet provides them the perfect opportunity to do so.