I am an 18 year old gay male and recent high school graduate. At 16 I came out of the closet as the result of a failed suicide attempt due to my inability at that time to cope with my sexuality. With the love of friends and family (and some much needed therapy), I am now a confident young man who is comfortable with his sexuality. As a student athlete in high school, I feel I did a lot to break some stereotypes about gays. After I came out in a rather conservative town, some of the best support I received was from straight students, their parents and yes, my church. As I continue to become active in the gay community, I am becoming increasingly alarmed at the level of hypocrisy when it comes to tolerance.

My political views and personality tend to lean more toward moderate in many, but surely not all, respects. This, it would seem, comes as source of great annoyance to many members of my community. In my former high school LGBT group I was once introduced as "the closet Republican, but we love him anyway." Really? In another instance one of the Senior peers stated, "I know you're the captain of the football team, but at some point you will grow out of this butch shit." One might argue, "Well, those were your young peers, who should be afforded the error of immaturity." Okay: at an adult support group I recently attended there was a lady there soliciting for membership in a national liberal political activist organization. When I declined, she inquired as to my reasoning. "I tend to be a bit more on the moderate side," was my answer. I was verbally attacked by not only her but a few othes in the group. This quickly descended into questions about my religious beliefs until the point that cooler heads in the room told the others to lay off.

Tolerance is tolerance is tolerance. The gay community has a month-long celebration and parades in name of pride and tolerance. However, at times, it seems to me that many will tolerate you only if you fit what their small minded version of what being gay requires. This type of mindset is no different than that of a religious right wing hatemonger or an ingnorant gaybashing homophobe. I'm not here to argue for or against political ideology. I simply think it's time for many in the LGBT community to take a good look at their idea of tolerance and check some of their own stereotypes at the door.

Man In The Constant Hotseat

My response after the jump...


First, MITCH, I'm glad you're still here and I'm glad you're out now and happy. I suspect we would disagree about a lot of things—I'm not religious, I tend toward immoderation on most political issues—but I have no beef with religious queers and/or moderate-to-right-of-center queers.

But I think you misunderstand what tolerance is all about. Tolerance doesn't mean that everyone has to like you and that you have to like everyone and that there's something deeply wrong with an entire community because some of its members can't disagree without being douchebags. All tolerance means is that you put up with people in exchange for being put up with yourself. You don't have to approve or embrace or endorse or even like someone to be tolerant. You just have to endure them.

There are assholes and douchebags in every community. I regularly get it in the teeth from some of the same folks you've run into. I know how unpleasant certain self-righteous gay lefties can be. So do what I do: ignore the members of your own community who can't argue without impugning your motives or finding fault with your upbringing and/or faith, engage with the ones who can (because sometimes the people you disagree with, particularly at age 18, turn out to be right), and find a nice, diverse bunch of the folks you like—not to be confused with "folks you agree with about everything"—and create your very own private support group, a.k.a. "friends and lovers."

And remember: the "gay community" isn't a series of meetings that you're required to attend. The community is a chunk of hard-won space where you have the opportunity to live openly—space that was won for you, it has to be said, by liberals and progressives and radicals. (Moderates and conservatives and churchgoers weren't exactly on the gay lib barricades.) The best way to show your gratitude to those who came before you and helped win this space for you—even those you might have disagreed with about other issues—is to do what you can to expand this space for those coming after you.

And when you encounter an LGBT asshole in your LGBT space, just remind yourself that the "gay community" isn't your birthday party. It's a space where you'll find people you like and people you don't. You don't have to hew to a certain set of political beliefs or be someone you're not to exist in this space. Just be yourself and ignore the morons... who are only guilty of being their moronic selves.

It's always worked for me.

P.S. The kids who have it the worst in the schools—the kids who get the most grief for being gay, the kids who are bullied—are the gender non-conforming kids, i.e. the effeminate boys and the butch girls. It's great when kids like you are out, MITCH, because you gender-conforming queers do break down the stereotypes. (Not that there's anything wrong with being stereotypically queer. The effeminate boys and the butch girls are just being themselves.) But do try to have a little compassion for the sissies. Some of them react to gay kids like you—gay kids who can pass for straight—with a mixture of envy and resentment, and sometimes that envy and resentment is expressed through lame attempts at humor. Whatever you suffered at the hands of the effeminate boys in your LGBT group at school, MITCH, I promise you it can't compare to what the effeminate boys suffered at the hands of their straight peers, siblings, and parents. I'm not excusing what that kid said—just putting in context. Shrug it off.