Tolerance. Is it Enough?


tol·er·ance [tol-er-uhns]  


1.a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions,      practices, racereligion,nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom       from bigotry.

2.a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own.

3.interest in and concern for ideas, opinions, practices, etc., foreign to one’s own; a liberal, un-dogmatic viewpoint.

4.the act or capacity of enduring; endurance: My tolerance of noise is limited.

During the last few years, as I’ve been working with different Gay Rights and marriage equality pages, I’ve noticed the increasing use of the word tolerance. Recently, a rather large number of articles, opinions and blogs have been released asking for tolerance. Religion must learn to tolerate homosexuality if it wants to keep members, parents should tolerate their children when they come out, people should tolerate their gay co-workers, the list goes on. Is tolerance enough? I’m not sure it is.

In my opinion, tolerance is simply a grudging allowance of something. You tolerate a screaming child in a restaurant, a puppy making a mess, etc. Is this what we want of the world? Is this what we’re striving for? I don’t think so.

Okay, then. If this is the case, what do we want?

ac·cept·ance [ak-sep-tuhns]  


  1. the act of taking or receiving something offered.
  2. favourable reception; approval; favour.
  3. the act of assenting or believing: acceptance of a theory.
  4. the fact or state of being accepted or acceptable.

Read #2. Read it again. THIS is what we should really be striving for. The difference between tolerance and acceptance is big, and I’m realistic enough to know that there are a large number of people in the world that simply will not accept, or even tolerate, the homosexual community as a whole, and we have to accept that. But, there are enough people who are “on the fence” and we can work to sway their opinions. We have made huge strides in the past decade, especially in the last four years. But we still have a lot of work to do.

In order to do this, it’s my opinion that we need to work more closely with our allies. With the people who have accepted us. These are probably the people who will be best able to change the minds of those that oppose us. They don’t really have a vested interest in our work for equality, but agree that it needs to happen. They’ve seen that opposition to their brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, parents, friends is wrong, and have decided to embrace us as equals. They are the people who can best explain why they made their decisions. In my opinion, the hardest of our opponents are more likely to listen to them than us. Now, I’m definitely NOT saying we should step back and allow others to do the work for us, but we should have more of our allies join us “on the front lines.”

With social media, we have, and are using, the perfect platform to increase exposure of our eventual goal. We need to figure out the best way to gain the acceptance of the majority of the population, not only here in North America, but world-wide. In a lot of ways, I’m not sure people realize the scale of the work we are doing. This is not a local problem, it’s global. Just because there are atrocities occurring in other countries, does not mean it’s not part of OUR struggle.

Even here, in North America, there are at least eighteen states considering so-called “Religious Freedom” bills. These bills will codify discrimination in state law. Anyone will be able to discriminate against anyone, (read the LGBT community) based on “religious belief.”   

Recently, a Florida church called a grieving mother, the night before her son’s funeral, to inform her that the ceremony could not take place in the church because the deceased was gay.  The pastor made this incredibly heartless decision because he said he’s a “man of god.”   “Based on our preaching of the scripture, we would have been in error to allow the service in our church,” the pastor said. “I’m not trying to condemn anyone’s lifestyle [sic], but at the same time, I am a man of God, and I have to stand up for my principles.” 

As a Dad, I can’t begin to imagine the heartbreak of having to bury a child.  And to have salt rubbed into that wound by your family church and pastor is, in my opinion, unforgivable.  This is the kind of thing that started my personal divide with religion.  I used to volunteer as a leader of a church-based boy’s club, similar to scouts.  I was asked to resign, after five years, because my divorce, and upcoming second marriage made me an “unsuitable role model.” 

Another problem is that this lack of acceptance is not only from sources like religious institutions.  Unfortunately, it seems to be somewhat internal, as well.  Recently, there have been articles released detailing what looks like a separation within the LGBT community.  One explains in great detail how the LGB part of us is not only ignoring the T part, but essentially “throwing them to the wolves” in order to advance our own “agenda.”

While I agree completely that greater transgender understanding, education and insight are needed in our movement, claiming that all LGB people are “against” all T people is a huge, and unfair generalization.  We NEED to work together as a cohesive unit in order to be taken seriously.  Those that oppose us are providing a united front in their opposition.  The main source of opposition is the religious front.  While they may be from different religions, with totally different views on a lot of subjects, they are definitely united in their anger and hatred of our community as a whole.  For this war, they’ve put their other differences aside.  They’ve strengthened themselves by agreeing on ONE small aspect of their beliefs.  We, as LGBT, allies and friends have so much more in common with each other than one tenuous belief.  Let’s use this commonality to stand up, together, and fight this war.

“Acceptance is not love. You love a person because he or she has lovable traits, but you accept everybody just because they’re alive and human.”   ~   Albert Ellis


A final thought.  To quote a dear friend, “there are three words to this continuum.”  Once we’ve gotten past being “tolerated,” and gained acceptance as integral parts of the human race, then we, along with the rest of the world can…



  1. To observe (a day) or commemorate (an event) with ceremonies or festivities.
  2. To praise widely or to present to widespread and favorable public notice, as through newspapers or novels.
  3. To have or participate in a party, drinking spree, or uninhibited good time

And trust me, the LGBT community KNOWS how to celebrate!

2 thoughts on “Tolerance. Is it Enough?

  1. I’ve been saying this for more than a decade, and get slammed every time I bring it up. Good luck and I hope you get better reception to the idea than I do! =)

    Warm hugs!!!

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