Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Gay and Un-Gay Relations, Part 2: Tolerance

Continued from Part 1.

If only this were a one part series ;-). In reading through the material from ex-gay groups and by experience, it’s clear all sides have their real insults, cruelty, and attempts to damage others and their families. It’s not traitorous, by any definition, but it is hostile, often malicious, and a wedge between groups that could get along much better.

I want to be clear, though, I actually wrote this series of posts many months ago, with some personal experience and online articles in mind. I’ve found everyone around these blogs, from the bloggers to the commenters, to be reasonable and kind in this arena. Even for the strangers, I certainly can see such reaction may be understandable. Aside from matters of faith, some have a bone to pick with their past life or a life they don’t want to want. But it’s out there, unfortunately.

Tolerance. Numerous times I’ve seen such inactively gay folks say or write something horrible about our families, or advocate political harm to us, and then, once someone calls them on it or doesn’t want to associate with them, they go on about diversity and tolerance for their non-gay lifestyle. I’ve heard a guy go from calling our families “sad attempts at playing house” to bemoaning the hostility he gets back for “his lifestyle” in a couple breaths. It comes across as a purposeful misunderstand of justified anger.

I’m a gay man who volunteers in government to promote tolerance and diversity for all minority groups and those words even sound tired and anemic to me (a quick search of my blog reveals as much :-)). Neither are absolute goods else we’d have no need for prisons, and it’s disingenuous to pose tolerance of harming others as the tolerance the gay community typically goes on about.

And, of course, it does go both ways. No one in the gay community should expect those trying to change their orientation or those married to the opposite sex to be tolerant of their attempts to insult and undermine their choices or families. Choices for your personal life are one thing; attacks are another.

In short, it’s not about the gay man’s choices for his personal life, in this case (though, admittedly, it’s a problem elsewhere). It’s about their choice to harm others; it’s how they use their personal choices in politics to attack another. I’ll not be tolerant of that anymore than I’d tolerate being punched, and I’ll not lose sleep over my lack of interest in such diversity, as both a gay man and a father.

Lastly, I know it can be a fuzzy line and there is some leeway and debate to be had. There’s a delicate difference between stating facts about personal preferences or about research that reveals facts about the average of a group, and going after an individual. I bet I’ve crossed that line before, to my regret. I also, of course, see there is a completely benign and ethical desire for all sorts of gay men and women to speak up for themselves and for others who want to follow their choices. I’ve no debate with that, and if such speaking up gets twisted by others into an attack on my home, I know well enough who’s responsible. But when a person clearly crosses over into advocating legal harm to others or stands up purposefully as an example as to why harm is justified, they are going to get antagonism in return (be they gay, ex-gay, or whatever). No one could rightly expect anything else, and no one could expect it to be met with tolerance.

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