Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Pot Calling the Kettle Intolerant

This piece originally appeared on HuffPost Gay Voices

Let’s talk about tolerance for a second. I’ll begin with a definition. According to Random House Dictionary, it’s a noun defined as: “a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.”

The verb form of tolerance is “to tolerate.” The adjective form is “tolerant.” I want to now define tolerant. One definition is: “to allow the existence, presence, practice, or act of without prohibition or hindrance; permit.” A second definition is: “to endure without repugnance; put up with.”

The reason for my English lesson of definitions above is because of the following:

Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, says that gay rights activists lack tolerance. That’s interesting. Does that mean we aren’t tolerant? In an article by Nick Wing published in The Huffington Post Mr. Perry is quoted saying, 

“This is a very unsettling time in our nation’s history. These are the days when a person is vilified when they state that they believe fundamentally that marriage is between one man and one woman.” 

We, the LGBTQ community, are fighting for equal rights and because we are very vocal about the desire to have those rights, Mr. Perry thinks we are intolerant. We are loud and proud, here and queer. We’re in your face: loud, proud, here and queer because it’s the only way to get you to see us; hear us; listen to us.

If you feel the LGBTQ community seems not to have a permissive attitude toward your opinion or religious beliefs it may simply be that you have no permissive attitude toward ours, and our push back against you is reflecting your own lack of empathy toward our desire, e.g. the right to marry whom we choose.

Is it fair that just because something has always been one way that we never change our way of thinking about it even if that change might be for the better; might benefit a lot of people?

The headline of the above mentioned article, “Rick Perry Warns Of ‘Unsettling Time In Our Nation’s History,’ Says Gay Rights Activists Lack ‘Tolerance’” caught my attention. I began to read the things Governor Perry said, and I got angry. I then began to read his words aloud to my gay coworkers. He can’t begin to fathom how much the LGBTQ community has had to tolerate; still has to tolerate.

I will not walk with my head down and my eyes averted from those who consider themselves superior beings because they love someone of the opposite sex. I will not let their ignorance of and disgust at how they visualize my sex life deter me from experiencing those feelings of joy and release. I refuse to feel shame about who I am and who I love. I don’t feel like Governor Perry has a permissive attitude toward the LGBTQ community. 

I’m tired of being tolerated. I refuse it. My life as a gay human being, is more than something to be tolerated. Just because I grew up to be a man attracted to another man does not make me any less of a person. I am worth more than something one puts up with or endures.

How many years have members of the LGBTQ community sat back and listened to the condemnation of our lives from the pulpits of churches? Now we get to add the political platform to that mix. How many times do we have to take being called “faggot,” “queer,” and “homo” at school, church, or simply walking down the street? The time for sitting back and taking it is over. We’re tired of it. We want more than toleration. We want more than you enduring your repugnance. We want acceptance. We deserve it as human beings. Don’t act as if I should be grateful that you tolerate me, but please accept my appreciation for your accepting me as a human being--living, breathing, and loving the person of my choice just like you.

In the same HuffPost article, Mr. Perry goes on to say, 

“The underling problem is that there is this very vocal, very litigious minority of Americans willing to legally attack anybody who dares utter a phrase or even a name that they don’t agree with. In a twisting of logic, they insist on silencing the religious in the cause of tolerance. Now I ask you, where is the tolerance in that?” 

I must admit that I have a problem with organized religion and those who hide behind it, and the words of the Bible to stand against something they know nothing about and are too scared to attempt to understand. That said, I have no beef with those who want to practice the religion of their choice. I just don’t agree that one’s religious beliefs should help create a law that prohibits me from marrying the man of my choice should I happen to find him one day. 

If it wasn’t for his disparaging speak against my community I wouldn’t even have Governor Perry on my radar. But the silence of the most vocal doesn’t stay silent for long. Eventually the echo of their voices beep again and you get words like those spoken above. How interesting would it be if the blip that is Governor Perry was suddenly absent because people stopped listening? If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it does it still make a sound? Yes, but does it matter? The same can be said for the blips on the radar of life that belong to people like Governor Perry. If we stopped listening, the words would still have sound, but they wouldn’t matter.

Perry continued, 

“The people of the state of Texas, myself included, believe marriage is between one man and one woman.” 

I think Governor Perry, and many others along with him, is afraid of change. Maybe even fears it. 

He is, however, allowed his opinion and I’m allowed mine. One is no better than the other, but if he wants to play the tolerance card, the LGBTQ community is having to tolerate a lot of bullshit coming out of his mouth and you know what they say about opinions. He might want to keep a handkerchief in his suit jacket for catching the brown dribble. Better yet, he could carry a roll of toilet paper.