Since the mass shooting inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, I have heard calls for “tolerance” from politicians, late-night comedians, clergy, and journalists. I don’t like that word. As a member of the vastly diverse LGBTQ community, I don’t ask for nor do I want anyone’s tolerance.
Tolerance basically means others endure me, suffer my existence in the world and put up with me. While tolerance may stop them from beating me up or shooting me dead, it doesn’t help in the bigger scheme of things.
Tolerance alone is indecent. It implies the tolerant sacrifice something and I’m supposed to be grateful. It’s a guise of a gift, meant to keep me quiet and inactive.
I want equity in every realm. I want full inclusion. I want human decency. I want it for myself and others. That includes legal rights in marriage, housing, employment, parenting, business, police protection, a gay wedding cake, or use of a public restroom. No middle ground. I do not threaten anyone’s religious liberty, safety, or privacy.
The LGBTQ community has fought hard for a sense of personal safety and freedom. We’ve made big gains in my lifetime. But Orlando causes us to pause and question our safety. The victims in Orlando were not chosen at random. And the rhetoric of hate, racism, homophobia, bigotry, and white nationalist preservation is dangerous to us all.
Tolerance is not the answer to the tragedy in Orlando. Human decency is. Love is. Gun control is. Mental health service is. Education is. Intelligence is. Inclusivity is. Unity is.
Portland, Oregon, will celebrate LGBTQ Pride this weekend with a festival, parades, dances, vigils, and more. Every year during Pride, I feel some concern and heightened sensitivity to my environment. This weekend it may be elevated. Our community will unify and renew our vows of decency, love, respect, equity, and Pride. I hope you’ll join us.
Composed on June 16, 2016 – four days after Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a terrorist attack/hate crime inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida