Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Indifference vrs. Tolerance

The other day I was reading an article in one of those "fag rags" and came across a quote from someone from the "Queer as Folk" TV show that said he wasn't advocating tolerance but indifference. That got me thinking about how I see myself in this society and this world. Let's just assume for the moment, shall we, that I can wave my fabulous fairy wand (no wisecracks!) and *voila!* the whole world would be indifferent to the fact that some of us ARE different.

Now imagine this world with me. Would it be one great happy family? Or would there be a sense of loss? How much would I miss the identity of being set apart, a special member of a "family" with our "gaydar", code words and inside jokes ? Would there be no more gay literature, clubs, music, art, dance, politics or sensibility? Would we still be "camp?" Or would we be totally mainstream?

I have to think that in this world there would still be cruising and places for cruising. Consequently there would be still clubs but they wouldn't necessarily be classified as "straight" or "gay" but perhaps "rainbow"- straight people I'm noticing breeders are already flocking to our hangouts because we have the better music, dancefloors and entertainment. This phenomenon is good in a way (more people being comfortable with homo-eroticism) and bad in another (you might have to filter someone through the gaydar where usually you can skip that step in a gay club or bar).

I guess rather than indifference or tolerance in this world, I'd like to have appreciation. Thanks right folks, appreciation! "The Gays" have a great sense of humor, fashion, and taste. We are compassionate and empathetic as well and make great care-givers of children, sick and others alike. We have made significant contributions to cultures in the past and present in numerous many areas (literature, art, music, and theatre just to name a few).

I guess for today, the here and now, we will have to take what we can get, whether it's tolerance, indifference or appreciation. And "Don't Stop Thinkin' About Tomorrow!"


Dustin said...

Very True Lil' One, very true.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan

I have some thoughts on this one ... not wanting to appear to flame bait but there are some good discussion points here ...

I am interested in this thing of identifying yourself by your sexuality first ... it seems to me this often is the case in the gay/lesbian community ... why?

When you talk about being appreciated - I think this is a universal thing people crave ... to be loved and accepted and appreciated - gay or straight. To me this is not a case of lets appreciate gay people. This is lets appreciate PEOPLE. You are my friend. I appreciate you for you. When I think of you, I appreciate your kindness, your ability to listen, the way that you think, your humour, your wisdom, your faith, your honesty, your concern for others. This is Dan. I don't think these are the characteristics of my gay friend Dan. I just think ... this is Dan.

This then leads me to wonder why do we stereotype Gays (or Straights) with things such as ""The Gays" have a great sense of humor, fashion, and taste. We are compassionate and empathetic as well and make great care-givers of children, sick and others alike. We have made significant contributions to cultures in the past and present in numerous many areas (literature, art, music, and theatre just to name a few)". Bottom line is there are gays like this, there are probably just as many who have no humour, mix plaid with stripes and have no dress sense, don't like children and are completely selfish. I am sure there are just as many who have no significant contribution to culture either! In saying that, I would say the same applies to heteros.

My point is we are talking PEOPLE. Sexual orientation does not determine any of the above. Character does.

Why is this a Gay issue? Help me understand. Also, sometimes I feel like this is another world with its own language ... just like Christians do. Why?

Interested in thoughts


Dannyboy said...

Great points Sarah! I appreciated your comments! I actually have a post in the works that addresses some of your points. In the meanwhile, if anyone wants to respond, feel free!

abogado-david said...

As is so often the case, both Dan's original post and Sara's point on character are simultaneously true. On the one hand, we all make generalizations and categorize people. I think this is a natural human coping mechanism--and sometimes a survival mechanism. Stereotypes, if you will, are sometimes fed by misinformation and are sometimes informed by our own past experience. We know that not ALL Mexicans or Spanish-speakers love soccer or have family back in latin America or work in construction, service, meat-packing or agriculture, but my experience tells me a whole lot of my clients do. My experience tells me that many are very hard-working, dedicated to family, and are devout and religious people. Obviously not all are, and I meet exceptions to my expectations all the time. But my experience does inform me fairly well and instead of starting with each client anew and assuming they were raised, educated, act and think just like me, I do have a tendency to categorize a person and make assumptions about their experience until something tells me otherwise.

Of course, the flip side to this is group justice, which is flat out wrong. I have heard talk-show hosts label all undocumented immigrants as criminals, law-breakers, dishonest, disease-carrying and drains to our tax dollars and economy. When I mention this to my clients they tend to laugh in lieu of crying. I don't know any of my clients who receive public benefits. Nor did they come because of schools, drivers licenses or the hospitals. They came to work and support their families. But that's for another post.

I suppose I feel more comfortable with a self-identified member of a group characterizing his own group than people outside the group with no experience with members of that group drawing conclusions about them. Carlos Mancia or George Lopez can joke about my clients, but Rush Limbaugh cannot, because he doesn't know what the heck he's talking about.

As for whether the characteristics associated with a particular group are inextricably linked to that individual, well, in some ways its semantics. Sara is right to recognize Dan for who she knows him as. He is first and foremost a person and to you he is first and foremost the relationship she has with him -- friend. In my case, brother (I never refer to him as my "gay brother"). However, the groups we belong to do help define us. I am a Baptist. I am Christian. I am a lawyer. I am bilingual. I am a Kansan. I am a Kansas Citian. I am a Beloitian. I am Anglo. I am American. I am Democrat. I am a business owner. I am college educated. I am married. I am heterosexual. Of course, I am privileged in that most people I know are in one or more of these categories. So, I do not define myself as Baptist until I am talking to a Catholic about our faith, or as a Kansan until I am out-of-state, or a Kansas Citian or American until I am traveling, or as heterosexual until I am around homosexuals. What Dan is touching on is whether our differences help us define our identities. If we were all the same, would we really have any idea who we are at all?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...


Some interesting thoughts David ... Perhaps this is getting into the chicken and egg argument but I would question, do the groups we belong to help define us or, do we join those groups because of who we are?

Sterotyping is also a cultural phenomenom. Reading your "I am" paragraph intrigued me. I suspect the picture in my mind that you painted would be quite different to the picture in a mid western american mind!

I don't think this is semantics. I do think we are too diverse as people to be defined by sterotypes based on faith or sexual orientation - or even nationality.

Lance Noe said...

i don't want to be appreciated, tolerated or seen in an indifferent light. I want to be WORSHIPPED!