Posted by: Genny Colby | October 1, 2010

Acceptance for all

At what point in our lives will we stop judging one another by appearance, perceptions, or assumptions?  When will we simply start treating others with respect, kindness, and dignity?  When will we decide if someone is a good fit for our lives as a friend or something more based on that person’s humor, interests, goals, etc and not based on the whether they are a member of some group (i.e. Christian/Jewish/Muslim/member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster/black/white/brown/gray/purple, gay/straight/undecided)?

We tend to gravitate to others who have something in common with us.  That may be interests, or membership of a group, thoughts, beliefs, or location.  But what gives us the right to pass judgments on others who are not like us?

Many of you have probably seen the news, read the articles, or read a blog about the tragic events of Rutgers University student’s suicide after a video of him having a sexual encounter with another male was posted online.  This is sad and disturbing news on so many levels.

The loss of life is always tragic, especially since in this case it shows how we have failed both the victim and his antagonizers.  From all accounts, this young man’s roommate was uncomfortable with having a gay man as his roommate.   Was he afraid his roommate would hit on him?  Was he afraid his roommate would “turn him gay”?  Or was he just unsure how to feel/act/etc around this young man?  Or was it simply something simple as “I can make myself feel better/be more important if I make fun of this gay man”?  So we must ask the question about WHY this young man felt that treating another person with less dignity and respect than he would demand for himself was acceptable.

If this young man was afraid his roommate would hit on him and he was not interested…how is this any different than when some girl hits on him at a party or the bar that he has no interest in?  A simple “no thank you, I am not interested in you” generally lets the other party know there is not a mutual interest and the s/he will move on.   Why is it that if a member of the same sex hits on you, instead of being flattered that someone was interested (and brave enough!) to approach you, the reaction is often insulted or disgusted?  And how is this any different than if a man hits on a gay woman?  Or a woman hits on a gay man?  In my experience, the gay man or woman is not insulted or disgusted that this person made an advance, just not interested.

I would love to know how someone can be made gay or straight by the actions or inactions of others.  This argument is based on fear and I always am amused by others seeming short-sighted because of it.  Do you think if we could control or manipulate who we are attracted to there wouldn’t be better uses for this than to make someone gay?  We could stop many cycles of abuse if we, on the outside, could turn off the attraction that someone has to an abusive partner.  But attraction does not work that way.  We meet someone and either have an immediate reaction or over time feelings develop based on shared interests and goals.  In my opinion, gender is not usually the deciding factor.  Yes, we tend to be more drawn physically to one gender over the other, but what us draws to another person is not his/her gender, but who s/he is as person.  After of course the initial attraction based on how visually appealing that person is to us.  Why are we so focused on placing labels on everyone?  Why does  it matter if we are heterosexual, homosexual, bi-sexual, asexual?  As long as we are happy, contributing members to our society does it matter the gender of our partner?  As long as we are not making unwanted advances on another person, what does it matter?  As long as we are treating others with kindness and respect, what does it matter?

I know that many will argue that being anything but heterosexual is against their religion.  And while I don’t pretend to understand all the details of all religions, I do understand that the basis of just about all is to be kind, loving, generous, and helpful to others around you.  Additionally, what difference does it make to an individual what other people around them think or believe?  “Christians” are, as a whole big encompassing group, the biggest offenders in anti-gay activities.  Yet, the whole idea of being  a “good Christian” is to love thy neighbor.  I am pretty sure that there is not a religious text out there that says “Love thy neighbor unless he is gay”.  And for that matter you could substitute ‘gay’ for Black, Democrat, of another religion..really the list could go on.  No, the message is to be kind, help others, and be respectful.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and beliefs. You may even tell me about your feelings/beliefs/ideas, but I do not have to agree with you or think you are right!  Ah, the wonder that is (supposed) to be America.  Why is the initial reaction to judge rather than to understand others?

And yet we know all these things about our society…we are teaching our younger generations to be intolerant and closed minded.  So, what options did this young gay man at Rutgers University have when he found out the lengths his roommate was going to invade his privacy?  If reports about tweets/social posts prove to be valid, he did talk to an RA, provided a written summary of what occurred to the University Housing Staff.  But yet we still failed him as he did not have the faith that those in a position to do anything would be able to resolve the situation.  That he felt so embarrassed and humiliated that even if some level of disciplinary action were to occur, he did not know how to face those who had violated his privacy or those who participated by viewing the video, or by making comments.  This is happening more and more as the level of “school yard” bullying escalates and those who do not have need voice their judgments.   Something has to change in our society, so that we respect one another, treat one another with dignity, and we work together to make our society better and stronger.  We don’t have to, nor should we, all agree on everything.  But my choices are my choices – not to be judged by you.  They have nothing to do with you.  If you don’t like my thoughts, my ideas, my beliefs, or my choices in life that is your right.  You may even tell me what you think, but in the end, it is my life to live as I see fit and not be judged by you.  And as long as I am not breaking any laws, doing any direct harm to anyone else, you really have no say.

These recent events only show how far we have yet to go where we really are all treated equal.  Hopefully we can learn from these tragic events so that maybe, some day, stories and events such as these are a thing of our past.

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