Tolerance. Acceptance. These are generally positive words associated with the movement for equal gay rights. Let’s start with the word tolerance. What does it mean to tolerate another person’s nature? If, in your mind, you do not segregate people into the ‘other’, there is no need to speak of tolerance. You don’t tolerate your friends and you don’t tolerate a good meal. There are individuals you might not get along with that you work with, or who are your neighbors, and these people you might tolerate in the interest of avoiding unnecessary confrontation and breeding a harmonious work and home life.
Tolerance Is Merely The First Step
If you’re homophobic then learning to tolerate a gay person is a step in the right direction, but it’s not the final destination on this issue we should strive for. There should be no need for you to tolerate another person’s nature. There’s a subtle inference in the word tolerate that indicates on some level you see the other person as inferior, or in the least, undesirable on some level. Tolerance in the context of this conversation has an insidious undercurrent, and we do better than that.
Acceptance Is Not The Objective
What about acceptance? To accept other people is a more progressive step in the right direction to merely ‘tolerating’ them. But on the scale of equality, both on social issues and how we view others who are different to us in some respects, acceptance still falls short. Even in this word, quite subtly, there is an indication that you’re somehow generous, even magnanimous, in accepting another person’s nature. An argument could easily be composed against my own when it comes to the word acceptance. After all we’re taught from a young age that acceptance of others is a virtue, and while this is true, my purpose here is draw your attention into the core of the language we use, and the inferences and impact of those words that operate often on a subconscious level.
How Prejudice Operates Within Us All
Our brains are wired to prejudge others. This is an instinctual behavior that was, and in certain circumstances still is, necessary to our survival. To use an extreme example, you might find yourself walking down the street and take notice of someone walking towards you, some twenty yards away. They’re staggering about, yelling about the end of the world, and brandishing a machete. You would be prejudging this person if you chose to walk across the street and not cross paths with them, but this is a rationale utilization of our instincts and judgement.
Rooting Out Prejudice By Observing Your Mind
The key is to observe how your mind works in various situations. If you find yourself in the company of someone of another ethnicity or sexuality to you, observe what thoughts arise, if you feel any internal opposition to the person. There’s no need to feel bad about yourself if you do, for the mere act of observing your mind will give you the space to not immediately react based on your conditioning. There’s nothing wrong with recognizing within yourself flaws in how you interact with others and working on them. In fact often times working on shortcomings is the best we can do, but we can only begin once we recognize our instinctual or conditioned reactions before they manifest in unbecoming, racist, or divisive behavior.
Concise Answers To Social Issues
Let’s tackle a few key social issues surrounding gay rights. Should gay people be able to get married? Yes. Should gay couples be allowed to adopt? Yes. Should gay people in anyway, shape or form be discriminated against? No. I’ve just ended the conversation. If you’re religious and hold beliefs that you feel entitle you to argue otherwise, I don’t accept your arguments. If you think that’s closed minded of me, I hope one day you recognize and appreciate the irony.
Ignorance And Discrimination Will One Day Be Artifacts Of Our Time
For those who are intolerant, tolerance is the next step. For those who are tolerant, acceptance comes next. For those who are accepting, eliminating the concept of the ‘other’, is the objective. The US is moving in the right direction, so far as opinion polls and recent legislation suggests, but the fact arguments over gay rights still exist is a sadness, and a distraction from social issues that matter, such as income inequality, poverty, and the unnecessary suffering of our citizens in general. The list of problems in our country, and around the world, stretches long, but gay rights – or to encompass the larger issue of the LGBT community – is not a problem. It’s a fact of human nature, and it’s long past time we evolved as a society that has dissolved all social and perceptual boundaries regarding sexuality.
If you disagree with the premise of this article, please do me a favor and watch the below music video, and then read it again.