It started with an early morning “riling” on Facebook. A few Kansas Law makers seemed to get a bee in their bonnet over their religious freedom being impinged upon. I try to avoid getting caught up in religion before my morning coffee, but it seems to get caught up in me, like swimming into a whole snarl of fishing line. The “freedom” they seemed to be missing , was the freedom to discriminate against gays and lesbians in the workplace, in business, in adoption, and anywhere else they feel they aren’t free to roam and hate at will. ( http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/02/14/what-the-hell-just-happened-in-kansas/)
Then it was the state of Tennessee that wanted to be allowed signs that read “We reserve the right to refuse service to homosexuals”. These earnest, honest folk are just asking for the simple pleasure of designating who is allowed the pleasure of their company, or establishment or hospital or school. Isn’t that a fine how do ya do?
It is tiresome to revisit this crap each and every day, but more than this, it is tiresome to have to defend my own daily existence. Turn on the tv, the Sochi Olympics,or read the paper, and somewhere around the world, Gays and Lesbians have topped the list over Poverty, War, Famine and Corruption as their country’s biggest issue of concern. I didn’t realize that mowing the lawn and grocery shopping together was so subversive and dangerous to our citizenry.
Any step forward that is made in the name of equality is met with the most ugly outrage and backlash of disgusting proportions, as if each new right given to us means we are taking away that same equal right to another group. This simply isn’t the case.
I’m at a point in my life now where “Tolerance” and “Acceptance” doesn’t cut it anymore. Anything less than CELEBRATED is unacceptable. Does that shock you? Did you hear the word “uppity” in your head? Allow me a moment to defend this outrageous statement.
I was born into a heterosexual household. I was raised by heterosexuals, schooled by heterosexuals, indoctrinated by heterosexuals on the morals and principles that have shaped my life for better or for worse, and befriended by heterosexuals. I’m going to go on record by saying they were generally a pretty decent bunch of folk, even if they did flaunt their “lifestyle” in my face in the flagrant manner of holding hands and occasional kissing in my presence.
Even though I didn’t meet the first openly gay person until I was about 15, I knew I was a lesbian by age 10. The heterosexuals that surrounded my entire life didn’t make me straight, any more than I made them gay by hanging around them. I grew up watching heterosexual TV shows, celebrating their families, watching their love shared on the silver screen, in commercials, and on postage stamps. I didn’t have to be a heterosexual to look at this and see how beautiful love was. I still credit my own loving Mom and Dad for setting the bar high on what True Love should be. At age 38 I came out of the closet and at 42 I married the woman of my dreams.
This brings me to the first word Tolerance. The word “Tolerance” can mean a “Fair objective attitude towards those whose opinion, race, religion, nationality, etc. differs from one’s own. To be free from bigotry.” It can also mean “The act or capacity of enduring” We endure or are tolerant of a headache or stomach flu. We tolerate a painful divorce. We endure a drought or a famine. That does not invite Celebration. I see no party balloons or greeting card for any of these. “Congratulations! You tolerated a family infestation of head lice!” So to be tolerant of those who love the same sex is not winning.
The second cousin to tolerance is Acceptance. Acceptance reminds me of the Serenity prayer which asks me to “Accept what I cannot change”. You accept that you lost a bet, or that your neighbor Jim is never going to pick up his dog’s poop from your side of the tree, no matter how many hints you have given. You accept that your teenager is never going to locate the hamper in his room. You accept defeat. Again acceptance refers to putting up with, which does not equal Celebration.
When I attend weddings of my friends or family, I don’t just “tolerate” their marriages, I Celebrate! Love is a kinship within our soul, where hatred has yet to be introduced. When I watch “Love Actually” with my wife, or a Soldier’s homecoming, or two lovers kissing in the rain who have finally seen the error of their ways, we don’t ball our eyes out with an asterisk or addendum of “Well I can’t truly appreciate their experience because I’m not straight…” We celebrate because the human spirit recognizes itself reflected back. Who could watch American Silver medal Olympian Noelle Pikus-Pace jump off the skeleton race track, climb up the second story gate stands where her husband and children were sitting to hug and kiss him, and not feel the joy and elation for this family? Tears I tell you! Big streaming tears of Celebration!
When my wife and I got married, we were truly Celebrated by our families, friends, and loved ones near and far! (Some as far as Japan, Hawaii, and Guam!) Our own community of Love Supporters wrapped us up in their arms and joined us in the true meaning of equality: Celebration! From all walks of life, backgrounds, political affiliations, and identity, our family was surrounded by Jubilation that is still reverberating across the stars even now. Everyone deserves to be celebrated like this.
We celebrate the joy of birth, weddings, new love, a new adoption, and any milestone of the human experience. So when I demand nothing less than Celebration of my milestones, my marriage, or moving towards having the same rights to adopt, live, work, love, travel, grieve, or provide for the welfare of my family, I’m not talking about a rose festooned float. I want to be Celebrated to the point that it isn’t seen as “Special” privilege, or hard won liberty, but because you recognize the human spirit reflected back upon you, a ripple in the pond of your own human experience. Go Celebrate! Cheers!
** as of this writing Kansans wrote and called their representatives telling them to “Quite making us look like Assholes!” and so far that law has not come to a vote. Tennessee’s amendment has also been tabled for this year, but could come up for a vote again.