- Posted August 23, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Tolerance Not Approval
It is an old reality and lesson learned over the years, but few in our society today, especially younger people, seem to understand that because someone tolerates one's actions, one's words, one's life choices, one's personality with all its varied individuality, it is not the same as approving of those things or of you personally.
Parents often will tolerate a child's behavior as the child progresses through the stages from toddler to child to tween to teen and finally adulthood. However, that tolerant attitude does not mean the parent agrees or condones the life of the child in all aspects of his/her maturation. Shoot, even as adults, parents often may keep their mouths closed, but that doesn't mean Momma or Daddy are happy.
So it is with our society whether it be in the Cornfield or the East or West Coast, the Plains or Mountains or bordering the Gulf or situated in the Desert. Society at large may tolerate the changes and the progression of a segment of society, but that should not be construed to mean the majority of society is putting it's stamp of approval on that segment.
This is poignantly exemplified in how the public, society, has in the last decade rapidly moved from a majority who strongly supported the denial of equality under the law to those of us who happen to be gay, lesbian or bisexual, to a position where the majority now agree that all Americans should find equality under the law that does not discriminate based on who a person is attracted to or with whom the person falls in love and wishes to spend the rest of his/her life.
However, my GLBT brothers and sisters, primarily the younger generations, are not being honest if they believe that society's toleration indicates that the majority also accept and approve of how we were born. Even with younger people, who seem to be more tolerant of sexuality issues, there is that wall that exists between straight and gay.
This was reaffirmed last week here in the Cornfield albeit by a "friendly" voice giving advice and a warning to me.
The Cornfield is arguably one of the most fiscally and socially conservative states in the US of A. Whether Republican, Democrat or independent, most Hoosiers tend to be less inclined to lean to the left on almost any given issue. Neither Republicans nor Democrats in the Cornfield put much stock in or follow the national party lines, but stake out their own perspectives and take their own stands on issues and concerns.
I tend to be an anomaly or enigma in the Cornfield. While I am firmly conservative on fiscal issues, when it comes to some social issues I am much more moderate to liberal. This sets me apart from most in these parts. I am also a moderate who happens to sometimes vote for a Democrat and sometimes a Republican. It is not unusual for me to split my ballot among the candidates for public office.
Oh and did I happen to mention I am in a nearly 9-year relationship with another man?
While I have also been married three times to women, have two great sons by two different mothers, and two beautiful granddaughters, I have known all my life where my primary attraction lay in matters of the heart and sexuality. But I have never been one to let my sexuality define me, but rather to only be one part of the whole.
Last week while sitting downstairs at Mickey's Bar & Grill having a soft drink, I was given a "friendly" tip. One of the other frequent patrons and I were the only two people in the bar besides the bartender. While she was off doing something, the other patron, a former high school jock who is around my age and also served in the Air Force as did I, quietly noted that there are a lot of rednecks who come to have a drink. He pointed out that word gets around.
I knew what he meant. I needed to be careful and alert.
Most of the patrons have been friendly. Most of the patrons say, "Hello", and call me by name when I walk through the door. At times you would think I was Norm or Cliff walking into Cheers.
While Iohn, my partner, and I do not fit the stereotype portrayed by the media and prevalent on television and in movies of how gay men should act and talk, we also do not hide that we are a couple. Neither of us believe in public display of affection, no matter whether same or opposite genders are involved. If someone asks we will affirm we are together.
The message I was being given was that just because folk around here seem to tolerate us, that doesn't mean they approve or accept us.
While major strides have been made in the quest for equality under the law, we need to be ever mindful that the majority of society may never approve of us.
Some will not accept nor approve based on religious grounds. Some will not accept nor approve because a belief that how we were born is contributing to the moral decay of society. Some will not accept nor approve because of a baseless fear of unwanted attention or someone of the same gender making a play which will be unwelcome. Some will not accept nor approve because of a fear that a latent tendency may awake which has lain dormant until coming face to face with someone who is open about who he or she is.
The best we can hope and pray for is, while the majority may never approve or accept us for who we are, hopefully we will find kind and tolerant hearts willing to dwell side by side in a state of toleration.
May I add because someone does not approve nor accept does not make that person a homophobe or homophobic. This simply means we have a divergence of minds and perspective. Let us not throw around a word or term in blanket fashion, but restrict usage to those who truly have an unfounded and irrational fear or hate when applying homophobe or homophobic.
Not every bad event or confrontation is a result of one's sexuality. In most cases sexuality has nothing to do with it. It is heads butting heads and nothing more.
Yes, there are those, such as the rednecks my fellow patron alluded to, who will bash, maim and even kill just because a person is born the way he or she is. But these are the exceptions, not the rule. Let us be careful of claiming and citing the misnomer of hate crime. Crime is crime.
Because the majority of society may be shifting to toleration and peaceful coexistence, do not be lulled in to thinking that this means approval or acceptance. Take it for what it is.
Society views and mores are ever changing. What is acceptable or tolerated today may as easily become unacceptable or intolerable tomorrow.
In short, we have to be willing to agree to disagree. We have to be willing to accept the bread crumbs that fall some times rather than receiving nothing at all to our detriment.
From the Cornfield, I was not threatened, but do understand that even with the giant leaps in the last decade from where society was when I was born in the mid-50s, growing and coming of age in the 60s and 70s, that there are still dangers and pitfalls on this road of life.
There are some who have a hatred that I believe is based more on ignorance and fear than anything tangible or rational. For those we must strive to be equally tolerant and simply pray some day their eyes may be opened.