Monday, June 21, 2010

Fear Of Tolerance, Tolerance Of Fear ...

I wrote this in April, back in the midst of the flurry of headlines about Constance and her prom. I didn't post it then. It didn't feel "finished." But I held onto it as a draft.

I just read a piece about the GOP in Texas and its 2010 party platform which is, as it pertains to gay rights, despicable. And so now seemed like the right time to publish this post. On this topic, I suppose I'll never be finished writing anyway. Though would that there were no need.

I don't like the word "tolerance."

"Tolerance" is a begrudging acceptance, a "we don't really like it, but we'll put up with it" mentality.

But at the moment, even though I'd prefer "acceptance," I'd take "tolerance."

Only at the moment, "tolerance" isn't available for the taking.

You should be familiar with the name Constance McMillen. She's the gay teen in Mississippi, who wanted only to be granted permission to go to prom with her girlfriend.

The high school she attends, in all its blatant bigotry, has a rule on the books that only opposite-sex couples can attend prom.

So Constance asked for permission.

She was denied.

The world took notice. The reaction was swift and severe.

So the school canceled the prom.

The ACLU had a problem with that. And a judge ruled the the school had no grounds to deny Constance the opportunity to go to her prom.

But given that the prom had been canceled, a private prom was created so students could enjoy this time-honored rite of passage.

Only, there wasn't just one private prom.

There were two private proms.

Most of the kids went to the "real" private prom.

Constance and her girlfriend and a few other students, some with disabilities, went to the other private prom, what they thought was the real private prom.

Total number of students in attendance, including Constance and her girlfriend? Seven.

Constance, grounded girl that she is, told The Advocate that she was glad that the students with the disabilities were able to enjoy their prom without anyone making fun of them, but that her feelings were hurt that there were two proms and she wasn't invited to the one that was intended for everyone.

Well, everyone but her and her girlfriend and a handful of other students who were shunned.

And so the spotlight shines even more brightly on this school and community and residents who will go to drastic lengths to be very, very cruel.

All of which leaves me asking: Why?

Constance loves a girl.

Why are people so threatened by that? Who made them the arbiters of the way things "should be"? What if Constance was their daughter? Would they want their child to be treated with such cruelty?

I wrote this post about gay marriage nearly five years ago. I'm still waiting for someone to tell me how allowing gay people to get married weakens the institution of marriage.

That's the prevailing – and stupid – argument. It's delightfully vague, don't you agree? It spares opponents from having to say, outright, "We don't like gay people."

But that's the reason.

Which leads me, again, to: Why?

There are two realities in the world: Love and Fear.

Everything that isn't love is fear. Period. It's that simple.

Why choose fear?

Why are so many people so preoccupied with who someone chooses to love?

It doesn't affect them. They might think it affects them, but it doesn't.

So what's the problem?

What's so difficult about accepting people for who they are?

They may not be exactly like you. So what? How does that change your life in any way?

I have many friends who are gay. Not "gay friends." Their being gay does not define them. They are my friends. The fact that they are gay is incidental.

Their lives are not radical. They have jobs. They pay taxes. They get up in the morning and put on coffee and have some breakfast and start their days. Some have children to get off to school.

Some days, they have car trouble. Or they get stuck in traffic.

Some days, they have to deal with a pissy co-worker or an angry client.

Some days, they go out for dinner after work. Some days, they cook at home.

Some days, they go to a movie. Some days, they spend too much time online.

Yes, they're just like their straight counterparts.

Because we're all human.

Why is it so difficult for some people to treat others that way?


Blogger Jeff Hunter said...

So two girls going "stag" together to the prom and dancing with each other would be different how?

It's Texas, probably George Bush's fault.

2:58 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

That's not the point, Jeff.

Why should they be forbidden from going together? Why are some people so threatened by people who happen to love people of the same sex?

And Constance's plight didn't happen in Texas. The impetus for the post is the Texas GOP's arcane thinking. I didn't bring up Bush. You did.

3:02 PM  
Blogger Doreen said...

In fact it is Mississippi. The thing I find intolerable about all the faer and loathing of "the gay" is the ones who scream the loudest are doing a damn good job of ruining their precious "institution of marriage" on their own ... John Ensign, Mark Foley, Mark Sanford, David Vitter, Larry Craig, Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Rudy Guiliani..... alll of them claim to be "family values" politicians .... and all of them have women and men on the side .... or have been married and divorced so many times it is not funny .... I see that as a bigger threat to traditional marriage than a same sex couple.

6:15 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I just found your blog tonight and, from what I've read so far, I really like it.

9:02 PM  

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