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Respect And Tolerance Towards Lgbt Community

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On March 16, I went with GLASS (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Supporters) to a LGBTQ conference in Storrs, Connecticut, called “True Colors”. While I was there, I participated in three different workshops. The first one was mandatory for all people who were new to True Colors. I ended up sitting in a circle with other people and answering questions that the workshop director asked us. One of the questions he asked us whether we had ever seen someone being bullied but not stepped in to help the victim. The response was pretty much the same throughout my group – our schools don’t have bullying. However, this is untrue; all schools house a certain level of intolerance towards peoples’ race, religion, sexuality, gender identity, etc. However, it doesn’t end in school; there is intolerance and unfairness everywhere in the world.

Intolerance is often promoted in media; Orson Scott Card, a well-known author, openly expressed his anti-LGBTQ views in 1990 when he proclaimed that the American government should enforce anti-LGBTQ laws “…to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.” In a more recent example, Republican candidates for political office have openly expressed their stance against gay marriage and LGBTQ rights in general. But where there is negativity, there is also positivity. Many artists create work that promotes tolerance and fairness. For example, author Bruce Coville wrote a short story which revolves around anti-gay bullying and the fight against intolerance. In the story, a boy learns multiple lessons. First, he learns that an effective way to fight intolerance is to ‘take back’ words that are used to harm people. To quote one of the characters in the story, “My friends and I called each other ‘faggot’ and ‘queer’ for the same reason so many black folks call each other ‘nigger’—to take the words away from the people who wants to use them to hurt us.” Another thing that the boy learns is that everyone is at least somewhat gay. This short story gives the reader ways to fight intolerance and hope for equality in the future.

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What is tolerance? According to Dictionary.com, it is “A fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.” This definition encapsulates most of what tolerance should be. However, these days, many people have their own definitions of tolerance. Some people believe that one can be tolerant without being accepting. I tend to disagree; to be truly tolerant, you have to accept someone for who they are without criticizing them for it. When people have many definitions of tolerance, the definitions can often become ineffective. According to writer Geir Afdal, “…tolerance is to tolerate different conditions of the good, not various conceptions of fundamental rights.”

Tolerance is often promoted in popular media, yet it is usually not taken seriously. Other sources promote tolerance more effectively; the band fun. is an example of a band that promotes tolerance and equality. Their song “It Gets Better” has a message hidden in it that promotes equality; for example, in the prechorus of the song, the lyrics go “Like starlight crashing through the room, we’ll lose our feathers. Yes, I know it hurts at first, but it gets better.” The song’s message is that even though it takes time, life will get better for people who feel like their life is bad. This has a distinct tie to the LGBT community. The song title alludes to a project undertaken by Dan Savage and many other people in 2010 as a result of multiple kids who killed themselves because of anti-gay bullying. The project encouraged people who’ve overcome bullying to post videos online saying that ‘it gets better’. fun. has supported LGBTQ rights in the past by selling a shirt that says on it “It’s all fun. and gay ’til someone loses their rights. LGBTQ Equality Now.”. Part of the profits from the shirt were donated to Revel and Riot, an organization that promotes LGBTQ rights. Obviously, fun. has done multiple things to promote LGBTQ tolerance.

Some artists don’t support tolerance by writing about how everyone should be treated fair and equal; some artists raise awareness about how tolerance isn’t always available in the world. I found a perfect example of this one day when I was procrastinating and scrolling through Tumblr, a website that allows users to ‘reblog’ (or repost things through their website). I found a poem in which Devin, a guy whose gender is non-binary (gender that doesn’t reflect the sexual organs they were born with), described how he dealt with a friend who blocked Devin out of his life because of Devin not identifying as female anymore. In one of the most emotional parts of the poem, Devin said “And for those 72 hours, you were not yourself. You were my mother, crying when I came out to her; you were three boys I had never met before smashing my face into the pavement, saying “What are you, fag? Where are your tits? Dyke.” This poem, while not blatantly talking about tolerance, highlights the intolerance that people have towards people who aren’t normal.

But what is normal, anyway, and how do we define it? This is a hard question to answer, because everyone has a different definition of ‘normal’. But there are a few social norms that everyone understands. However, not everyone follows them; some people stray from the shelter of normality and become independent from others’. For them, normal could be anything. At csmonitor.com, an online newspaper website, I found a review a the book I read in school, Chronicle of a Death Foretold. In the review, the critic talked about the setting of the story, writing “It is a place of simple truths and strict codes of honor…” . By writing this, the critic implies that the codes of honor that exist in Chronicle of a Death Foretold are normal for the town in which the story takes place. This means that the people in Chronicle of a Death Foretold have their own definition of normal. I believe that their definition of normal differs greatly from my definition of normal; their ‘codes of honor’ are religiously influenced, whereas mine is not.

The theme of sexism that exists in Chronicle of a Death Foretold relates to what I’ve written about. On page 9, Santiago Nasar tells Divina Flor ““The time has come for you to be tamed,”…” . This event in the story gives me a chance to delve into the setting of Chronicle of a Death Foretold, in which women’s role in society are to get married and bear children. Chronicle of a Death Foretold is set in a remote town in Colombia during the 1950s. During this time period, sexism and homophobia were heavily present in the world. Since the sexism in this story is bad, one could believe that the author was trying to insinuate that sexism (and therefore homophobia) is bad.

In conclusion, oppression towards the LGBT community is still growing, but so is tolerance. Tolerance is important because everyone deserves equal rights and equal treatment. Sexuality is something you’re born with, not something you choose. Just as no one should be persecuted for their skin color – whether they’re Hispanic, black, Native American, Arab, Chinese, etc. – no one should be persecuted for their sexuality. A mind free of ignorance is a powerful one.

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