Friday, August 15, 2008

Beyond Tolerance, Beyond Acceptance

Author and philosophy professor, John Corvino, has written an interesting article (see excerpt below) about the many changes the gay rights movement has experienced in the last decade or so. At one time, all the queer community seemed to want was to be tolerated (god, how I hate that word) and simply be left alone. As we grew as individuals and as a community, we realized that that view was oppressive and dehumanizing. We began to mobilize and seek full equality as citizens. We desired acceptance. But as Prof. Corvino points out, "acceptance" does not completely encompass the basic right of society to take care of it's own. As we move closer to acceptance we will be able to contribute fully to society, and from that we all benefit.

John Corvino writes:
Roughly, “tolerance” involves leaving people alone to live as they choose, even when you don’t approve, whereas acceptance involves somehow affirming their choices. But even “acceptance” seems too weak here. Acceptance sounds close to acquiescence, which is scarcely distinguishable from tolerance. Gay people don’t want merely to be tolerated or accepted, we want to be embraced and encouraged—like everyone else in society. The shift from tolerance to acceptance is apparent in the movement’s goals. 
When I came out in the late 1980’s, we were still fighting to make gay sex legal. As late as 2003, homosexual sodomy was criminal in over a dozen states. That’s when the U.S. Supreme Court finally declared sodomy laws unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas, overturning Bowers v Hardwick. Suddenly, tolerance was legally mandated. Then things changed—rapidly. READ MORE