To be fair to everyone, there needs to be another ‘letter’ in the mix that represents a large number of people as well. That letter is “H” which , of course, stands for heterosexual. Following the massacre in Texas it is more than clear that the time is now to have some definitive discussions around Pride community rights and freedoms and how we can ALL live in the same space without killing each other.
With that in mind I wrote down some of terms and words that need to be explained so that some debate and meaningful discussion can take place. It is essential we are clear about what this mean and what means. Without gaining an understanding of what the conversations need to be about we cannot hope to have an ongoing dialogue about any of this. Whether we like it or not, ALL of us need to be able to reconcile, at least within ourselves, what changes in our social norms means, what the difference is between tolerance and acceptance, and the ways that we describe each other (these people or those people or them). Basic communication strategies suggest that if we are not using words that we all interpret as meaning the same thing then we will have great difficulty making ourselves understood. We are, quite simply, not speaking the same language.
We often use tolerance and acceptance incorrectly thinking that they mean the same thing or close to it. I borrowed these two explanations from a site called ‘Quora’.
“Tolerance is the idea that while you may dislike or are uneasy with something different, you cannot ban, outlaw or otherwise cause it to disappear. As long as no one is forcing you to accept or otherwise incorporate that idea into your lives, you have no reason to stop it from happening in the lives of other people. In short, you may hate it but you have to deal with it.”
“Acceptance is the idea that something different can contribute to a greater understanding of the world as you see it or some other benefit. Thus, it goes beyond tolerance, where you actively work to mix and blend that concept into your lives, living with and practicing that idea.”
Since many subscribe to the idea that sexual orientation is accepted very early in many lives it also follows that many model the ‘H’ choice while others identify with the ‘L’ , ‘G’ or the ‘T. However, what bothers many, especially the ‘H’ types, is the subtle messages that go out to those who may be on the fence, especially young teens, or who may have made their choice, that it isn’t too late to consider an alternate lifestyle. We both know that that does happen and it exists. Advertising executives have been riding that rail for a long time.
So what of the people who identify with the ‘H’? Should they not be included in the conversations about acceptance and expectations and needs to be ‘normal’? Just the word ‘normal’ needs to clarified and accepted by those who will continue the discussions and conversations. Can we agree to a common meaning of the word? Yet the Pride community somehow sees ‘H’ folks as being anti–. ‘H’ folks are as interested as anyone in voicing what they believe in and what they need to have happen to make sense of their lives and their world. Fair is hearing both sides of the story. To be truthful I think much of this animosity is about the fear of the unknown–what might happen if . . . The Pride community lifestyle scares the hell out of the ‘H’ folks and they aren’t dealing with that very well. It rocks the ‘H’ world and challenges many long term beliefs about how life is to be lived.
So, we need to have some clear social norms so that people have a sense of ‘what is far enough’. Norms and mores simply refer to behaviour and demonstrations that support the idea of having a sense of order in society. But before we can get on to meaningful conversations with each other about the needs for equality and respect and dignity we first need to determine what those norms look like. The Pride community wants to be seen in a particular way and I don’t dispute the reasoning at all. But the other guys need to be heard as well.
The other axe to grind is how some use their sexual orientation in the work place as a hammer to make their point. Disagree with a particular point of view and someone is likely to yell ‘discrimination’. Now some poor individual finds himself/herself having to defend themselves when all they did was to state their disagreement. This does happen and quickly at times because governments are falling all over themselves trying to be seen as politically correct.
Quite frankly I think that people need to be a bit more discerning about the messages they put out there. My or your sexual orientation is no one’s business. It is a fact of your life and mine. It is a deeply personal decision-one of the few personal decisions that we still have some personal control over. It is how we have chosen to live our lives. It makes no one more important or special than the next. It does make us different from each other-true enough. Lets talk about understanding the differences. Quite honestly I don’t want to know about someones S.O-I don’t care. I associate with people because of how they treat me and how they treat those around them. I could care less if they are L or G or anything else. I accept and support the idea that we are ALL free to live our lives in a fashion-any fashion we choose without harassment, prejudice or discrimination.
Anyways, that’s how I see it–
All the best, Jim
Comments are welcome if you have something to add. Connect with me at: firstname.lastname@example.org