It’s not optional

Today is National Coming Out Day, which is because (to lift a quote from their page): “It’s the courage to come out as an active voice for LGBT equality that will result in real political and social change.”

Last night I used the Human Rights Campaign’s handy little Facebook app to change my status to something about how I’m a straight ally to the cause, and not five minutes later I saw one of my “friends” had changed her status to say that she would not be changing her status, because she absolutely will not support people being proud of their sin, which should rightfully be “hidden in the closet.” I removed her from my friends list.

Because here’s the thing: I don’t really care what you think about people being gay. You are entitled to your opinion. Even if it’s wrong. (Kidding!) (Not really!) But when you start saying things designed to shame others, things indicating that you feel entitled to dictate to others that they are not just wrong but BAD and UNACCEPTABLE, now you’re treading in dangerous territory.

And if you’re a parent, from where I sit you are doing something unforgivable.

When a parent purposely fails to provide a child with basic needs—food, water, shelter, even love—we call that child abuse. Why do we not call it child abuse when a parent purposely teaches a child hatred and intolerance?

The news is filled with stories of kids being bullied—sometimes to death—over their sexual orientation or other perceived differences. And I’m pretty sure not one of the perpetrators in any of these well-publicized incidents was born pre-programmed to think that tormenting another human was a-okay.

To be fair, I’m sure there’s lots of cases where the parents haven’t actively taught their kids to be jerks. The wonderful thing about children is that they learn by example. So maybe the parents didn’t say “let’s go hate on people different from us!” but instead just conducted themselves in a way that clearly communicated that different = bad and that any resultant behavior from this hypothesis is somehow excusable. Or maybe the parents are perfectly fine, upstanding people who never made it crystal clear to their kids exactly what the expectations are when it comes to dealing with other people, even those who are different.

Here’s what I think: Teaching your children to be tolerant and compassionate is NOT OPTIONAL. Withhold that from your kids, and to me you’re no better than the parent who doesn’t feed the kid who’s been “naughty.” Raising your children to be kind members of society is part of your duty as a parent.

Listen, people do things I find abhorrent. All the time. I don’t have to like it. But it doesn’t give me the right to harass them. It doesn’t give me the right to make sweeping judgments about them as people, or to try to restrict their constitutional rights. It doesn’t give ANYONE the right to treat them as less than people.

And part of my JOB as a parent is to make sure my kids understand that. Part of my job as a parent is to open a dialog with them, and keep it going, about what is acceptable and what’s not when it comes to dealing with others. Part of my job as a parent is to make it very clear to my kids that we will not tolerate them behaving badly towards others.

If I’m being 100% honest, I have to tell you that Monkey says and does some pretty rotten things to those he perceives as different/wrong on a regular basis. It’s part of the Asperger’s; first, that he’s so rigid in how he thinks everything should be, and second, that he often doesn’t get that his reactions can be hurtful to others. If ever there was an excuse to let a kid be a little jerk (“Oh, he can’t help it!”), this is it. But he is not excused, ever, not even for this, because it’s not okay. We explain it to him over and over and over, and progress is very slow, but the message remains the same: It’s not okay to make other people feel bad for being who they are, period. We are working through it, every single day. (The great irony here, of course, is that Monkey is often bullied. Guess what? It’s still not okay for him to do it to someone else, even by accident!)

Chickadee doesn’t have a disability, but she does happen to be a nearly-teen-aged girl, and—having been one of those before, myself—I think she and her friends do sometimes veer off into the land of “playful” torment. The distance between “just kidding around” and “actively bullying” is a lot shorter than any of us would like to believe, by the way. So we work with her, too. It’s not okay to make other people feel bad. Furthermore, there is an expectation in this family that you will conduct yourself with kindness and compassion, and if/when it becomes clear that that is not the case, there will be consequences.

I wouldn’t just not feed my kids because I can’t be bothered to think about it. Are you going to avoid talking to your kids about this stuff because you’re too busy? It’s not optional. It’s part of raising them to be good citizens of the world.

For National Coming Out Day, I challenge you to talk to your kids. Let them know what is and what isn’t acceptable to YOU, so that they can work on figuring out what’s acceptable to THEM. And you don’t have to think every difference is hunky-dory to have those conversations in a productive way; even if you think something is “wrong,” hopefully you believe that calling out and shaming people is wrong, too.

This is not about “sin” or what’s “right.” If you must couch your arguments in the language of sin, well, I seem to recall a story in the bible about the person without sin casting the first stone. And if you want to talk about what’s right, what’s right is treating people like human beings worthy of compassion and understanding EVEN IF you don’t personally agree with their every choice.

And if you’re a parent, what’s right is teaching your children that it’s never okay to bully or denigrate another human being. Does that sound hard? It really isn’t. Start by loving the bejeezus out of them, because people who are well-loved don’t tend to feel the need to be mean. And then follow up by talking, and listening, and then talking and listening some more. Don’t feel like you can fully support the lifestyle choices of others? That’s fine. Can you support not appointing yourself or your kids judge, jury and jailers? Can you support just erring on the side of NICE?

It’s not optional. Ever.

[Edited to add: I'm still sitting here thinking about this. Look, if for whatever reason none of the preceding has made sense to you, let me make this really easy even for the most closed-minded and selfish out there: Teaching your kids that bullying is wrong makes them less likely to become targets of bullies, themselves, and more likely to seek help if they do. There; a perfectly selfish reason to teach your children about kindness. That should cover everyone, now.]

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132 Responses to “It’s not optional”

  1. 1
    Average Jane October 11, 2010 at 8:54 am #

    Well said!

  2. 2
    Anna Marie October 11, 2010 at 8:56 am #

    YES. To all of this. Beautifully written Mir, as always.

  3. 3
    divrchk October 11, 2010 at 8:59 am #

    Amen. I would be shocked if one of my friends posted an update like yours did. I would have unfriended that person too! Good for you! It blows my mind that people spend so much time and energy fighting AGAINST gay and lesbian rights.

  4. 4
    Jeannette October 11, 2010 at 9:01 am #

    Exactly!

  5. 5
    Kelly October 11, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    Beautifully said.

  6. 6
    Holly October 11, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    Is un-friending / hating people for disagreeing with your definition of tolerance pretty similar to un-friending them for being gay? Both are pretty icky, as far as I’m concerned. Just sayin’.

    Mir here—Holly, I never said (or thought) I hated that person for their viewpoint. I merely do not have the time and space for someone in my personal life who is so bigoted. My point about educating our children is that it’s very, very hard to change the mind of an adult who’s grown up in hatred, unchecked. If we educate our kids, that problem is avoided. (And for whatever it’s worth, I respect your opinion of my behavior being “icky,” too. As long as we can talk about it like rational adults, I’m good.)

  7. 7
    Midj October 11, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    Great post!

  8. 8
    KGP October 11, 2010 at 9:32 am #

    Amen! I’ve been reading your blog for a while but have never commented before. But this post really struck a nerve — I watched Carl Paladino (the Republican candidate for gov. here in NY) on the Today Show this morning and still haven’t stopped shaking my head.

  9. 9
    Jane October 11, 2010 at 9:37 am #

    Excellent post! Thanks for the food for thought.

  10. 10
    Lori October 11, 2010 at 9:45 am #

    Perfect! I’m so amazed in 2010, sexual orientation is still an issue… i’ve never understood intolerance on any level.

  11. 11
    Liza October 11, 2010 at 9:45 am #

    You made me cry with this post. In my car, in the parking lot, on my phone. Thank you for writing this and for being my friend.

  12. 12
    mamabird October 11, 2010 at 9:49 am #

    Brava! There is nothing that gets me riled up more than intolerance. I’m absolutely intolerant to being intolerant!

  13. 13
    Kathleen October 11, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    Yes-well said!

  14. 14
    elz October 11, 2010 at 9:57 am #

    Amen, hear hear. I also think that it is our job as humans to stop intolerance and hatred whenever we encounter it. I have a zero tolerance policy for any “joke” or statement about race, creed, orientation, etc. Hopefully that example will show my kids that it is ok to stand up for what you believe in.

    My spiritual background is fairly rigid. That said, I firmly believe that if Jesus were walking amongst us now, He would care for those who are the most persecuted, ridiculed, and ostracized. Those Christians who think He would not befriend homosexuals don’t believe in the same thing I do.

  15. 15
    Jen October 11, 2010 at 10:08 am #

    Sing it! Amen! And yes, I do talk to my boys about this, on a pretty regular basis, actually. And they’re really starting to get it. They are both such kind-hearted boys and I give so much thanks for that.
    And I think they’ve caught on that I’d rip ‘em a new one if they weren’t. ;)

  16. 16
    My Kids Mom October 11, 2010 at 10:11 am #

    We need to teach children to respect the inherent worth and dignity of all living things. Equality, justice and the rest will follow. We said Mir!

    Soldiers are allowed to serve- and to die for our country- if they are convicted felons…. but not gay. C’mon people- it is 2010. It is time to see the light.

  17. 17
    My Kids Mom October 11, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    that was “well said, Mir” … oops

  18. 18
    Half Assed Kitchen October 11, 2010 at 10:22 am #

    Hoorah! Great post, Mir.

  19. 19
    Holly October 11, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    Well said, Mir. Jesus loves ALL people. There is only one teensy, tiny, little thing that bothers me about this post…You mentioned lately that kids are being driven to suicide for being bullied about their sexual orientation. It’s true. But here’s the thing. Kids have been committing suicide for a long time. It’s the third leading cause of death in teens. Proceeded only by accidental injury and homicide. We need to address this as a whole, not just the homosexual teens. Kids are viciously bullied for various reasons. I guess it just bothers me that it took a gay teen suicide epidemic for everybody to stand up and take notice. This has been an issue among teens for FAR too long. Let’s help them ALL and not just the gay teens.

    Mir here—and yes, absolutely, Holly. I used this as a springboard, but of course I’m talking about all differences, all bullying, all of our kids. Thank you for pointing that out!

  20. 20
    Kristin October 11, 2010 at 10:26 am #

    It makes me crazy when people practice hate and call it Christianity. I was just visiting with my two oldest children the other day about ‘Christians’ who murder abortion doctors and feel justified in doing so because of their faith. I consider myself a Christian and I hope that I can teach my kids that love is a much more powerful tool to change the world than hate could ever be. Great post, Mir.

  21. 21
    birchsprite October 11, 2010 at 10:28 am #

    Well said Mir.

    I recently had to unfriend a relative on facebook. This person was posting some utterly despicable racist comments on their status. I suspect that they maintain similarly dreadful views on sexuality too. It made me truly sad for them, not only because they are clearly misguided, but because it means that the parents have obviously allowed these views to develop and have possibly even contributed to them. I think it’s vitally important to teach compassion, tolerance and understanding. It saddens me that the human race hasn’t learned to be more accepting of all people, whatever their differences. It really makes me annoyed when I see the people closest to me showing hatred for no reason. I decided to unfriend that person as I didn’t want to provide a platform for their hatred. People may be entitled to their own opinion… I’m entitled not to have to listen to it.

  22. 22
    Kelly October 11, 2010 at 10:29 am #

    I have a friend who moved from the south to New York City a couple of years ago. She is gay, and a Christian. She does not feel the need to go around and preach to anyone, or force her opinion and beliefs on anybody. However, she gets treated like a second class citizen by some of her “friends” up there, not because she is gay, but because she is a Christian. They only know her beliefs because they asked her about them, but she did not push them on anyone.
    They look down upon her and pretty much just treat her like an uninformed hillbilly. She is one of the most erudite and learned women I know. She is also older than most of these friends. These same friends would fight all day for her rights as a lesbian, but will “bully” her about being a person of faith. She is looking to move away as soon as she can. Bullying can happen for a number of reasons, and is not always from whom you would expect. These women would not ever consider themselves bullies, and would be insulted to be called that.
    I plan to change my status on facebook when I get home to reflect my support of her and GLBT rights. Thank, Kelly

  23. 23
    Alison C October 11, 2010 at 10:49 am #

    Totally agree, Mir!

  24. 24
    Kim October 11, 2010 at 11:05 am #

    Fantastic post.This is why I’m here every morning.

  25. 25
    liz October 11, 2010 at 11:07 am #

    Amen. AMEN. Mir, you are so right.

  26. 26
    agirlandaboy October 11, 2010 at 11:10 am #

    Couldn’t agree more.

  27. 27
    Crista October 11, 2010 at 11:13 am #

    Excellent post!

  28. 28
    Michelle October 11, 2010 at 11:48 am #

    I more often just read and admire your writing, than comment on it but I wanted you to know that I am in complete agreement with you.

  29. 29
    Jones October 11, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    well said Mir! thank you! i am in tears because it’s just so rare that someone ‘gets it’ and realizes that being gay is NOT a choice. we all need to recognize each other’s differences and learn to get along. Look for the things we have in common, not the things that set us apart.

    excellent post.

  30. 30
    The Other Leanne October 11, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    Bless you.

  31. 31
    laura October 11, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    I attended a family wedding this past weekend. Seventy-seven of the 80 sibs-n-kids were there to support my brother and his new wife. I asked my daughter (who is gay) if she thought she would like to be married in this church (it was absolutely beautiful). She smiled and said it was probably not in her future but she would LOVE to have the support of the entire family, which she added, is not in her future either.
    How freaking sad is that?

    Thank you Mir. Maybe, someday, with people like you in the world sharing their thoughts, even families like mine will learn to love unconditionally.

  32. 32
    alicia October 11, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    Mir,

    I couldn’t agree more. I consider myself a Christian, and I also work in Student Affairs at a public university. Part of my master’s coursework involved theories about LGBT students develop and identify themselves (other theories were covered as well – moral development theories, psychological development theories, etc). I was asked a couple of times how I could consider myself to be a Christian and knowingly take these classes and work with these students if I knew what the Bible said about homosexuality.

    For the record, I do believe that homosexuality is wrong and is considered a sin from a religious standpoint. However, my name is not GOD and it is not up to me to decide whether or not that person will be saved in heaven or burn in hell. It is not my place to make those judgments – especially when I have sins of my own that are considered equal to the sin of homosexuality. (brings to mind the verse….”"If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”)

    I think the best thing I can do in claiming myself as a Christian is to be a loving Christian to all….no matter how unloved or persecuted they may be. I think it is important to me to know that I am doing my best to show them that I as a Christian can love them, despite our differences in belief. And if some day, they want to know more about Christ, I will be glad to share that with me. I think the “praying the gay out” and forceful shows of Christianity can be counterproductive. Ideally, someone comes to Christ because they believe they need him in their life, not because they are scared by what a religious sect may be telling them.

    This tends to get into a very messy argument. But I agree – bigoted statements and bullying don’t get us anywhere. However, love and compassion for others will often take us farther than we ever expected.

  33. 33
    Anne October 11, 2010 at 12:05 pm #

    I lost a few friends during the Gay Marriage debates here in California. When I had enough about their rantings about the sanctity of marriage, I’d ask them: “Excuse me but…are they physically, monetarily or emotionally hurting you in any way? Are you going to DIE because Bob and Joe get married?” “Um..no.” “Then STFU! This is America – land of the free. You live your life. They’ll live theirs.”

    Their looks of shock were priceless….

    I’m in my early 30′s and have multiple gay/bi friends and family members. I love them and support them as I would any other friend. They’re human beings first and should be treated with respect and love no matter who they decide to have a relationship with.

    My two cents…. ;-)

  34. 34
    liz October 11, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

    I think this is your Best. Post. Ever. I’m considering sending it to the parents of my students because it’s what I believe and how I believe I should teach my students, only more well-written.

  35. 35
    Kristie October 11, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

    Thank you for this post.

  36. 36
    TC October 11, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    Amen, amen, amen. BUT…

    Please, world in general, do not assume that every child who expresses intolerance is coming from a family that permits it or accepts it or teaches it. I could go on and on about our family’s liberal bona fides, I could tell you about the Gay Pride parades we’ve marched in with family members, I could give you a bibliography of articles we’ve written or been quoted in about specifically LGBTQ issues, and the number of dinner-table conversations about horrible incidents of discrimination and how they affect the people we love…but none of that (NONE) stopped my son from declaring, in the middle of his Hebrew School class yesterday, that the purple pen one of the girls was using was “gay.”

    I was MORTIFIED upon hearing of it. And we’ve had SIXTEEN different conversations about why that’s not OK in the sixteen hours since I heard. But does that mean he’ll never say it again, never make another child feel bad? I’d like to think so, but…probably. OK…definitely.

    And even if everyone reading this wants to think it’s because of something I did…It’s not. There are a lot of things I’ll blame myself for, but the intolerance? It’s coming from those very peers who are the reason I send my son to “social skills” groups several times a week. These are the kids I’m trying to get him to learn to be more like? The irony. it’s killing me.

    (Yes, I do realize that calling something “gay” or even–perhaps most hated here in my house–”retarded” is not equal to hounding someone or physically assaulting them for their differences. But it’s definitely part of the problem, and that’s why I care so much.)

  37. 37
    Dani October 11, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    Mir,

    YES! I’m “donating” my status today too. I’m also redirecting folks who look at my status back to this blog entry because everyone should see it! The only thing I felt a little weird about was the “Can you support the lifestyle choice of others…” part, because sexuality isn’t a choice. But re-reading, I’m hoping you were using those words in a “This is what you may be thinking…” kind of way? Either way, such a beautiful, well-written post and I hope all my friends will read it and some will pass it along!

    Also, a quick word to TC: I come from a kind of “mixed” family. On one side, we’re as liberal as they come, and on the other side, it’s perfectly acceptable to say anything that comes to mind, as long as it’s prefaced with “I’m not being mean/racist/sexist/homophobic/insert-whatever-youmay, but…” I’m happy to say I identify 100% with my liberal background. My momma raised me to be open and loving and never, ever purposely hurt someone. Unfortunately, I also grew up in a public school in the south, where “That’s so gay…” and “That’s so retarded…” are used ALL THE TIME. Somehow along the way, I must have picked up this language – NOT MY MOMMA’S FAULT! But in the 9th grade, I said “That’s so gay” in front of a close friend who is a lesbian, without meaning to hurt anyone. She responded “Gay isn’t a synonym for stupid. Use the word stupid if that’s what you mean.” I realized it hurt her to hear it, and I’ve never said it again. Also, I spoke with a parent in my workplace who has a child with some severe disabilities, and we got on the discussion of “The ‘R’ Word”. After hearing how much it hurt her as a parent to hear that word, I made a decision to cut it out of my vocabulary forever. I know it annoys my friends when they say something like and I stop them and ask them to choose a different word, but I learned my lesson and won’t stand for someone using that language around me. (I’m off my soapbox now!)

  38. 38
    elswhere October 11, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    Thanks. You are a swell ally.

  39. 39
    Jess H October 11, 2010 at 12:52 pm #

    Thank you, Mir for putting it so well. I agree with everything you said. And if I had kids, I would take to heart all you said about teaching them to be open to differences.
    PS I’m sending everyone I know the link to this post.

  40. 40
    Virginia October 11, 2010 at 1:12 pm #

    Hi Mir,

    I’m not a member of the camp that believes being gay is a choice. I’m also not particularly religious, but I heard a pastor say one time that God doens’t make mistakes, and just because we don’t understand His reasons for homosexuality doesn’t make it a sin.

    I’d rather my friends and family find partners who make them happy regardless of their sexual orientation, race, religion, or whatever else makes them different. Who cares? If both members of the relationship are happy, that’s what’s important.

    Also, I’m appaled by the amount of time wasted on this matter. I mean, we have wars going on, our economy is in ruins, our school sytems is sub par, and so many people are worried about gay marriage?

    And thanks for working so hard to be a good parent! Responsible parenting might not be the easiest form of parenting, but it’s the right form.

  41. 41
    Swistle October 11, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

    <3 <3 <3 to this whole post, and a bonus <3 for TC's addition in the comments: kids do sometimes do things that utterly appall their completely-different-minded parents.

    And more <3 <3 <3 for the whole post.

  42. 42
    MomCat October 11, 2010 at 1:19 pm #

    Great post, Mir! If only everyone taught that bullying is not okay, for any reason, there’d be less hate in the world.

  43. 43
    Chuck October 11, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    Very powerful post, Mir. Well stated. I was bullied for being a geek in high school some (not every day or anything, but some) and sometimes I wish I could visit a couple of those who did the bullying in my grown-up, more physically intimidating body and give them a piece of my mind…but they’re not worth it.

  44. 44
    Rachel ~ A Southern Fairytale October 11, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

    Mir,

    I do so love you.
    this post is brilliant.
    I love.

    I think my respect and admiration for you just tripled <3

  45. 45
    Tracy B October 11, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

    I appaud you, Mir! You have just wrote a post that took words right out of my mouth. Almost as I was saying them. Thank you for backing me up on this one!

  46. 46
    Tracy B October 11, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    I meant to say “applaud” you…I can spell, really.

  47. 47
    Jenn H October 11, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

    I find the whole idea of “intolerance” somewhat laughable because the very people who throw that word around in regards to Christians (or any other group) ARE BEING INTOLERANT of the group they accuse. Ironic, if nothing else.

  48. 48
    Pickle Horwitz October 11, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    I’m reposting something I wrote on another site. Hope you don’t mind.

    I’m with you all the way. I think we all have an inherent need to make others feel like outsiders. It makes us feel better about ourselves. Unfortunately it goes completely against nature and the concept, which I religiously believe, that we are all connected.

    As a parent, my responsibility is to teach my kids the importance of tolerance and kindness. My kids love the slogan, “different strokes for different folks.” It helps when they really like something that others don’t.

    When a kid is being mean to either them or someone they know, I hone in on the fact that it is THAT child who is having a problem. Whether it’s the bully or someone who is being bullied, the problem starts there.

    In my 4 yr old’s preschool classroom there is a boy who is often the victim of bullying. He has difficulty socializing and almost seems to seek out other kids’ cruel behavior because, at least then, he can be part of something, even if it means he is the one being stepped on. I have tried to talk to the teachers about this but their response was very much like “boys will be boys.” It was infuriating. I was very concerned that my boy was learning that it was okay to bully.

    Because I did not get the support I was looking for from the school, I took things into my own hands. I have explained to my boy that sometimes children have a hard time playing and that this boy does not know how to go about doing it. So that when he is being mean (his way of eliciting interaction), it is actually his way of wanting to play. That instead of being mean back to him and opening the gate for others to follow, that he should just ask the boy if he wants to play.

    Surprise, surprise. It has worked. Not only has my boy used this technique, he’s actually teaching his classmates what to do. It seems that all children need is a little understanding and some concrete tools as to what to do in actual situations of distress. That is what we can do for them NOW.

  49. 49
    Erin October 11, 2010 at 2:34 pm #

    You are awesome. Thank you. Thank you for standing up and speaking when you believe. I’ve admired you since I started reading here (3+ years ago) but I think you just became my #1 role model.

  50. 50
    Chana October 11, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    I just wanted to add my support, and remind people of an excellent organization http://www.tolerance.org/ to support if Mir’s post touched a nerve.

    I hope those who find homosexuality immoral will carefully consider how religion and culture can and do change over time. For example, we don’t stone people any more, and we consider that a GOOD thing.

  51. 51
    Rasselas October 11, 2010 at 3:05 pm #

    Last time I read the New Testament, Jesus never said anything about homosexuality or sexuality in general. Why Christians are so obsessed with it, I’ll never understand. I find it preposterous to uphold the moral teachings of an ancient tribal nation in this day and age.

    You’ll probably be aghast to find that I personally view homosexuality as an aberration – I don’t understand how a person can not love BOTH sexes equally well. But my reaction to someone being homosexual is – more power to them! They should have absolutely all the rights that any heterosexual couple might have, including the right to have children by whatever means available to them.

    The point you made is a strong one: you can feel whatever you want about someone who’s in some way different, but you have no right to mistreat them.

  52. 52
    Emily October 11, 2010 at 3:18 pm #

    Mir, I have some difficulty with your assertion that “Teaching your children to be tolerant and compassionate is NOT OPTIONAL.” I will certainly always teach my children to be compassionate. I will never condone bullying. But “tolerance” is a tricky issue. I will not teach my children that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle, because I consider it sinful. I wouldn’t expect someone else to “tolerate” what they consider an inappropriate act, whatever that might be. But if by “tolerance,” you mean abstaining from bullying someone because of their differences, I agree. I agree with your statement that every person is worthy of compassion and understanding. I do not think a homosexual person is an awful person, and I wouldn’t condone such an attitude in my child. I am a sinful person, as are my husband and children – but that does not make me okay with any of our sins. We are all in need of Salvation.

    Mir here—Points taken, Emily. Thank you for sharing in such a respectful manner. I disagree, obviously, but I think we’re all working out our own salvation, and our fellow man is not here to judge us while we do so. And I think that teaching our kids that homosexuality is a “lifestyle” becomes a slippery slope that can lead to cruelty very quickly, but if you can balance your beliefs with kindness for all, it’s not for me to judge.

    Jesus called his disciples to kindness and tolerance, again and again (which is part of why it dismays me to see self-proclaimed Christians promoting hate). As I said—and as you appear to agree—you don’t need to endorse someone wholeheartedly to still treat them with respect and compassion. On this we can agree.

  53. 53
    jwg October 11, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    Well said indeed. Did you hear about the candidate for governor here in NY who made the anti-gay statements and even worse, chastised his opponent for taking his daughters to a gay rights rally? Other issues aside, whatever happened to good old fashioned civility? I am old and cranky and have very little tolerance for fools.

  54. 54
    Karen October 11, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    Wow — what an great entry. In my home we teach that if others are judged at all, it is on how they treat other people. Is the person who seems to be a good friend, but treats waitstaff like dirt really a god person to be around? It has nothing to do with gender, race, social class, disability, or sexual orientation. It is how we treat others that counts.

  55. 55
    Karen October 11, 2010 at 4:08 pm #

    *Good* person. Why do I only see the typos after I hit submit?

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    teachergirl October 11, 2010 at 4:12 pm #

    we may disagree in our definitions of “tolerance” and “hate,” but the idea that everyone is worthy of our respect, kindness, compassion, and genuine friendship is not something we disagree on. i absolutely agree with you that we, as parents (or soon-to-be, in my case), have a responsibility to teach our children how to behave the way we would have them behave. we can tell them lots of things, what we believe, and how we think, but our examples are the loudest teachers of all.

    even when we disagree with a person, whether those disagreements focus on political views or sexual behavior (and i certainly don’t limit that to any population at all–i mean, truly, in general) or someone’s wardrobe or toothpaste flavor or pet food choice or any other thing that might somehow come into conflict with our own set of values and beliefs, there’s absolutely no excuse for unkindness.

    the Jesus that i know told us to love one another. i don’t see doing that and believing how i do as being mutually exclusive, so i will try to show that love by doing my best to be a friend, a neighbor, and a respectful human being.

    ultimately, i think that’s what we’re all trying to do. at least, in my optimistic moments, that’s what i think we’re trying to do.

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    karen October 11, 2010 at 4:18 pm #

    Amen, Sister.

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    k.mayer October 11, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

    As a parent and a legislative member of our government, it is your job to love unconditionally and govern constitutionally respectfully. If not, you’re not doing your job and it’s hurtful, damaging, and IMnotsoHO, negligible. The only thing more pathetic than the comments of NYS potential governor Paladino are the voters considering voting him in. Paladino vs. McMahon would be a formidable cage fight: promoter of family values vs. promoter of ‘women’s rights.’

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    Sara October 11, 2010 at 5:45 pm #

    Wonderful post! I’m crying as I type this. I was bullied in middle school every single day. I tried to kill myself twice because I hated myself. I hated everything about myself. I had an eating disorder because the bullies told me I was fat and disgusting. To this day I have a lot of problems with anxiety and depression because of what happened in middle school (I’m in my mid-twenties.)
    I was ashamed to tell anyone, even my parents. This is what everyone needs to hear. We need to make sure everyone knows that it is not okay to bully and that it ruins lives. I still struggle every day with what happened to me. Something needs to change.

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    E's Mommy October 11, 2010 at 5:49 pm #

    Thank you for this. Thank you for speaking out about teaching tolerance for everyone who is different in any way and thank you especially for doing it on National Coming Out Day. Thank you for standing up for people like me and my partner and for our two adorable little boys. Our wonderful boys who will probably get bullied when they’re older, even if they’re straight, because they have 2 moms. There has been so much in the news the past couple weeks about people being condemned by politicians, beaten, or bullied until they committed suicide because they were gay. It was wonderful to bring up your blog and see this here today. Thank you.

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    Cassie October 11, 2010 at 5:53 pm #

    As a “straight ally” as long as I’ve understood what that meant, I can only thank you for using your blog as a platform to speak on this issue. I’ve got a million other “thoughts” that are pouring together in my head, but it all comes down to a simple thanks. You’re a good person, and I’m glad that you stick to your guns (as my grandma always said, I thought you’d like a little southern-ism). :)

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    Alice October 11, 2010 at 7:01 pm #

    Thank you, Mir. Straight allies are often not thanked enough by us in the LGBT community, but you should be. Look at all of the people who are getting touched by this who normally wouldn’t register National Coming Out Day at all! While I agree with TC that parents can’t control whether their kids are 100% tolerant 100% of the time, making respect a priority in parenting is the only way we can work towards that point, and it slips by the wayside all too often.

    Thank you too for standing up for the ‘love thy neighbor’ side of Christianity – even though that’s by far the sentiment of many, many Christians, the intolerant folks are loud and repetetive, and sometimes seem to dominate the “Christian view” on these issues. Thanks for standing up so unequivocally to make your voice heard.

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    Ruth October 11, 2010 at 7:27 pm #

    What I teach my children…we are all Gods children and should be treated as such…

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    Jen October 11, 2010 at 7:35 pm #

    Thank you, Mir, for writing this post. It is something that needs to be said, much more often than it is. Treating others with kindness and compassion, and teaching your children to do the same, is not optional, in my book, but too many people treat it as though it is, especially when it involves people who are different than them. This goes not only for sexual orientation, but for race, religion, gender, national origin, and any of the qualities and/or life experiences that set us apart from one another. It is something we all have to work at, everyday.

    My husband and I do some work with an organization for homeless teenagers, and roughly half of the children they help are LGBT, and were either kicked out of their homes due to their sexual orientation, or were so tormented by their families, that they chose to leave. Regardless of your religious or other philosophical beliefs, this is just not acceptable. There is no excuse for treating anyone, let alone your own child, with such a lack of tolerance, compassion and kindness. Many of the children we have met are intelligent, creative, hard-working, kind, wonderful kids (and as a general rule, I don’t even like teenagers!). But their sexual orientation made them worthless to their families. As a mother, and as a human being, this is something that makes my blood boil.

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    addy October 11, 2010 at 7:38 pm #

    I am impressed and am amazed. Thank you for posting this and more importantly thank you for allowing your actions (unfriend) to speak for you. Your points are valid and need to be heard.
    Thank you.

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    paige October 11, 2010 at 9:01 pm #

    I have not donated my status, though I really, really wanted to. Last year, I had a parent contact my administration and demand that I be fired for my pro-gay marriage groups that I “liked” on Facebook. You can hide a lot of Facebook stuff, but the pages you like are public and can’t be hidden.

    I had a very, very tense hour long meeting with the headmaster and principal of the small, private, evangelically inclined school at which I teach. The principal was supportive of my right to have a Facebook page be my private property. The headmaster was not…he considers it a “public ministry opportunity” and reminded me that teachers are supposed to represent the school at all time.

    That day, I started looking for another job.

    Still no job, and my search is turning desperate…I just can’t stay someplace in which I feel that my job is threatened by my stance that all people have intrinsic value.

    On the plus side, my kids and I are anxiously awaiting the birth of Neil Patrick Harris and his partner’s twins this fall…and conversations about being “different” happen every day. My kids, who attend the school where I teach, breezily contradict hate speech when they hear it, they call people on it, adults and kids….

    I feel guilty about the Facebook thing…but I can’t afford to lose this job until I get something else or I’m consistently selling my freelance work.

    But I feel as though I’ve sold out…

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    Wondering October 11, 2010 at 9:11 pm #

    Wonderful post, Mir. Thank you for modeling how to be an “active voice.”

    To those who are vocal about disagreeing with the homosexual “lifestyle” (I do not believe it’s a “lifestyle” or a choice, but will use the term for the sake of this argument), I wonder if you are as vocal about your disapproval of those who’ve “sinned” in other sexual ways, such as having premarital sex — which would involve a really, really high percentage of today’s adults, and which is most definitely a choice? I know there are some people who have deep-seated beliefs who are not hypocrites, but I wonder how many more are?

    Most of those who say “I am a Christian, and I don’t approve of homosexuality” don’t seem to be saying “I don’t approve of sex outside the marriage bed” quite as loudly. Is that perhaps because it’s more socially acceptable to disapprove of the behavior of a minority, but less acceptable to publicly condemn the majority? Could it be that many of those who are condemning the former group are members of the latter group of “sinners”?

    How many of those condemning homosexuality would be as condemning towards their 18-year-old sons for having premarital sex? How many disapproving parents would toss out their 20-year-old daughter for being a lesbian, but wouldn’t even consider raising their voices at her for breaking several of the Ten Commandments (disrespecting her parents, stealing, not “honoring” the sabbath, etc.)? “You stole money from your brother? Shame on you. You didn’t go to church, and spent Sunday watching TV? Oh well. You hung up on your mother in anger last week? Tsk, tsk, tsk. Wait, you love another woman?!? You’re going to burn in HELL!!”

    I have yet to have any Christian show me where Jesus condemned homosexuality, but I seem to remember quite a bit about loving one another, and not casting the first stone.

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    Martha October 11, 2010 at 9:29 pm #

    Go Mir! Again wonderful words! Love it!

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    Leslie October 11, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    If you consider yourself a Christian, which I do, you believe and try to follow the Bible. Both the Old Testament and New Testament clearly address homosexuality. The Old Testament says: “If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense.” (Leviticus 18:22). The New Testament has this to say: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

    However, as a sinner myself, this sin is no worse than any I commit on a daily basis. We are all sinners in need of redemption. In God’s eyes, a sin is a sin is a sin. It is not for me to judge another’s sin. While my children are not old enough to understand what homosexuality is, I will teach them what the Bible teaches about it, for that is the foundation of our lives. We teach them to love the person but hate the sin.

    In general, I believe that our society is extremely sexually immoral and is already overly tolerant.

    Mir here—again, if you choose to believe this and can do so while still teaching kind and tolerant behavior to your kids, I disagree with you but I’ll deal. When I see a phrase like “overly tolerant,” though, it gets my hackles up. Seems to me that Jesus had a few things to say about tolerance… something about turning the other cheek seven times seven times…?

    I really intended to use today as a springboard to discuss tolerance for ALL differences, not just homosexuality. But for the few commenters who came in with the “but the bible says…” justification, may I kindly refer you to this essay about biblical law for your consideration? Enjoy.

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    Chris October 11, 2010 at 10:01 pm #

    Love ya Mir! Always have and always will. Awesome post! Oh, and I am not a mommyblogger. I was a grammyblogger. You my friend are some awesome people.
    That is why I come back again and again to read.
    Your children are so lucky to have you and Otto….;)

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    Lisa October 11, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

    THANK YOU!!!

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    annette October 11, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    Hate the sin and love the sinner. Was at a neighborhood picnic this weekend and met our gay neighbors. Had a nice coversation with them. Both are very nice men. If anyone were unkind to them, I would stick up for them. But, I do not agree with their lifestyle. And, if I were asked, I would tell them it is wrong. Because, I think by following
    God’s plan for us is the only way to achieve true happiness. But i have a healthy helping of my own sin as well. I do not know if people are born gay or not. I was born with an inordinate love for food:). It just requires me to depend on God’s grace more.I think we hjave all forgotten in this day and age that self control is a virtue.

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    Rasselas October 11, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    Leslie: from where I stand, it appears that your book condones murder. Just sayin’.

    And no, Corinthians isn’t something that Jesus himself said.

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    Heidi Ferrer October 11, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    Right on!!!

    -Heidi Ferrer

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    Heather Cook October 11, 2010 at 11:14 pm #

    Oh it always hurts my heart when people fight about what God said or didn’t say or when we try to interpret the bible without praying about it a LOT first. I struggled for a long time about whether homosexuality was “right” or “wrong” and one day decided that it didn’t matter at all what I thought, my only responsibility was love others as my brother or sister. To approach a stranger as though he might be my brother. I realized my struggle wasn’t with homosexuality but with my own judgmental nature.

    I knew a few things: that all the old testament stuff was before Jesus came and was basically all about laws that were thrown out the window once Jesus died… the new testament has a lot more life application. I don’t know about tolerance (I think the turn the other cheek bit was about forgiveness, not tolerance) but he used LOVE a lot. And there are only two major rules to worry about… if you got those figured out, the rest falls into place: “The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

    I will teach my children that. I will teach them that it applies to everyone.

    Listen, I have a judgment problem. I have problems with judging parents who leave the carseat handle up on those little bucket seats for babies… or the people who insist that their dog is the same as a kid…. or the people who can’t figure out how to merge… once I have those settled I’ll worry about Those Gay People. But there’s so much more out there to judge….

    ;)

    Back to the serious topic… I think love trumps tolerance. I’d rather love than tolerate. I’d rather be loved than be tolerated. I’d rather love someone who is gay than tolerate them.

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    Lara October 11, 2010 at 11:22 pm #

    Well said Mir and thanks for the reminder to be more proactive in my teaching of tolerance to my kids. I find it mind-boggling that there is so much hatred and intolerance in today’s world.

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    Stefanie October 12, 2010 at 12:12 am #

    Fabulous post. Well written and I agree with every single thing you said. Thank you for writing it. Every parent should read this.

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    smscott October 12, 2010 at 1:03 am #

    well said, bravo. On a side note, my special needs daughter is called monkey and ive called my sister chickadee for years lol

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    Amanda October 12, 2010 at 3:25 am #

    Wow… I never would have guessed “my” status update would have warranted a full page blog post from you, Mir.

    That being said… I want to comment…. maybe someone will get to read it before you remove me from the blog too.

    I do not hate anyone. I do not wish harm on anyone. I did post my status update that homosexuals need to stay in the closet… that they should be ashamed of their sin… not PROUD.

    I do raise my child that he should stand up for what he believes but that he does not have the right to harm anyone or lead them to harm themselves.

    Mir, a few days ago I posted a status commenting about the child being bullied because they were gay and that child committing suicide. You failed to mention how against that I was. You also failed to mention how I commented that NO ONE regardless of sexual orientation should be bullied. I find it so sad that it took homosexuals to get bullying on the news.

    I believe the homosexual lifestyle is a choice. I also believe it’s a sinful lifestyle.

    I also believe I am a sinner and have many sins that are equal to homosexuality but I do not choose to live day in and day out in a sinful lifestyle. There is a difference.

    Tolerance is a term so many people use when they want someone to accept something that is wrong. Do you have to tolerate “rightful” things?

    Mir, I’m saddened you removed me from your friends list… I thought you were more tolerant than that. One little status update and you de-friended me? Where is YOUR tolerance? What’s the difference? You wrote an entire blog entry about my status… and how YOU can’t tolerate ME on your friends list. Does that make much sense to anyone?

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    Amanda October 12, 2010 at 3:29 am #

    One more thing, Mir… what about the child who was bullied from having Asperger’s Syndrome? Why is that not all over the news? Why not preach tolerance of Aspies? The media chooses to make something out of homosexuals being bullied… and this has been a problem for thousands of years.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1319575/3-evil-bullies-tortured-autistic-boy-17-walk-free-Manchester-court.html

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    birchsprite October 12, 2010 at 5:02 am #

    Amanda,

    Tolerance is about accepting difference, It has nothing to do with right or wrong. Why on earth would you wish anyone to be ashamed of their difference? You say that you do not wish harm on anyone… telling people that they should stay in the closet and feel shame is wishing harm on them. You are perfectly entitled to your own opinion, but is it only an opinion… it doesn’t give you the right to judge anyone for their difference to you.

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    Amanda October 12, 2010 at 5:15 am #

    Birchsprite ~ So often, I am accused of not being tolerant. I find that a little hypocritical when I look at the ones making those accusations of me. You see, I can accept Mir’s opinion and still love reading her blog. I probably will continue reading, even though she obviously feels differently about some issues than I do. I did not remove her from my friends list on facebook because I couldn’t tolerate what she believes. That was her… the “tolerant” one.

    Because I disagree with a choice, a lifestyle, or anything else for that matter, it does NOT mean I believe you can’t do it, be it, have it, etc. I do believe you shouldn’t get special treatment because of it.

    I disagree with homosexuality. That doesn’t mean I want all homosexuals banished. I disagree with Obama… but I want NO harm done to him. I disagree with some of the taxes I have to pay, but I pay them.

    I do not approve of a lifestyle… so now I’m intolerant? Many people don’t approve of my choice to homeschool my autistic child… I do not accuse them of being intolerant. I do not demand special priviledges or special “days” and extra attention brought to me.

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    Mir October 12, 2010 at 5:53 am #

    Thank you for weighing in, Amanda.

    I have over 500 friends on FB. As for not mentioning your status condemning gay bullying, I don’t recall seeing that. My stream fills up pretty quickly. I’m glad to hear it’s not okay with you, though.

    I have a problem with a worldview that encourages people to be ashamed of themselves. There is — to me — a huge difference between “I happen to believe this is wrong, but live and let live” and “I happen to believe this is wrong and YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF.” Particularly when the thing we’re talking about is something that I don’t happen to believe is a choice. I can’t help being attracted to men; that’s how God made me. Neither can my friend Doug; that’s how God made him. I don’t know how, exactly, homosexuality fits into God’s plan, but I don’t believe people “choose” it. Telling them they belong in the closet is condemnation of how they were made (to me). I know you disagree, and that’s fine.

    This post was about intolerance of lots of things, not just homosexuality. That was just a jumping off point. And while seeing your status update was the catalyst for my thoughts, it’s not all about you.

    While homosexuals “have been a problem for thousands of years,” up until very recent history, women and their pesky desire to be treated like equal citizens were a “problem,” too. Times change. Societal norms change. Tolerances change.

    Yesterday, on National Coming Out Day, in the wake of so many needless deaths, seeing your comment about how people should keep their sin stuffed in the closet was, quite simply, more than I could bear. I’m sure you’re a lovely person in many ways. But as a (admittedly liberal, but also Christian) mother to two children who have already suffered bullying, I didn’t want to look at the words of a full-grown adult encouraging people to be ashamed of how God made them. It made me too sad.

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    Brigitte October 12, 2010 at 5:58 am #

    Being permanently scarred from years of bullying made me determined to raise my daughter to be kind. We still have to remind her frequently in specific situations, but then she’s still 5.

    We were totally freaked when she was 3 and said she “didn’t like brown people.” We hadn’t raised her that way at all, in fact we purposely had her in a diverse preschool the next town over so she wouldn’t think the whole world was lily-white. It turned out it was just one particular kid bugging her, she played with plenty of other “brown” kids, so she got the talks about why she had a problem with that boy and that it had nothing to do with his looks!

    Thank goodness her elementary school, though rather white, has mainstreamed several “differently abled” kids in her classes, and she’s even had good playdates with them, to the point where I think she honestly doesn’t see that it’s such a big deal. At least it would have been for our generation (me being older than your pretty self, even).

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    Amanda October 12, 2010 at 6:10 am #

    Mir, we can agree to disagree… that is one thing I always appreciated about you. As I said earlier, I will probably continue reading your blog… unless you block or ban me.

    I have a “live and let live” attitude on many things in life… the biggest reason I speak out about homosexuality is because of how often it’s thrown in my face. I am sick of hearing about it already. “They” do not deserve special treatment because of who they are attracted to. Who cares who they want to sleep with! That’s my whole point… I am so sick of homosexuals (and Muslims, and Latinos, and African American’s) wanting “SPECIAL” treatment.

    I suppose that comment will get all sort of rebuttals too… but seriously… I would love for my son to apply for a grant to get into an ALL BLACK college. Guess what… SIMPLY because of HIS SKIN COLOR he’d be denied. Yet, I’m prejudice?

    That’s another topic for another day I suppose…

    I’m simply tired of people demanding tolerance and special treatment when that does not make them equal, it makes them “better” than the rest. Who do they think they are? Live and let live goes both ways.

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    Doug October 12, 2010 at 6:18 am #

    To the author of this blog… you are correct when you said, and I’ll quote from the earlier comment, “Times change. Societal norms change. Tolerances change.” However, God doesn’t change. A sin 2000+ years ago is still a sin today. People become warped and brainwashed very easily by media outlets, so-called ‘political leaders’, and so on. That is sad on many levels. Loving and treating a person ‘nicely’ does not mean that one has to tolerate and/or accept their improper lifestyle choices. It is very possible to love someone and still take a stance against the sickness that they justify. Love the sinner, not the sin they commit. That goes for ANY type of sin, not just singling out homosexualty.

    To the majority of the commenters on this blog… Because someone doesn’t accept or tolerate a sinful perversion of the moral relationship as God designed between a man and a woman that doens’t mean they are bigots, hate-filled people, or any other name-calling term. That seems to be the general consensus among attitudes of gays and their supporters towards individuals who haven’t been warped into believing such moral perversions. Tolerance… it sure is preached by many of you, yet when the situation is reversed, I don’t see much of it practiced. I’m sure my comment could ‘ruffle a few tail feathers’ but I can handle it with no problem.

    Mir here—I will allow this comment to stand, but it may interest my readers to know that it comes from Amanda’s IP address. Just sayin’. And I maintain that declaring someone should “stuff their sin back in the closet” is neither loving nor tolerant.

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    Trace6 October 12, 2010 at 6:35 am #

    Well said! And AMEN! =)

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    Doug October 12, 2010 at 6:37 am #

    Well I will inform your ‘readers’ that I happen to be her husband. Is this a problem?? I’m aware that we share an IP address. Good investigative reporting though. Oh, and no, I’m obviously not tolerant of a homosexual lifestyle. Yes, I am loving. I’m sorry that you are too narrow-minded to see that. You, of course, are free to remove my comment if you can’t accept the difference between tolerance and love.

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    Amanda October 12, 2010 at 6:39 am #

    LoL Mir, OF COURSE my husband’s comment comes thru on the same IP address. We are sharing internet under the same roof. If we wanted to change our IP address we could. We chose not to.

    That being said: Can not two people under the same roof comment on your blog without there being a problem from you?

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    Mom101 October 12, 2010 at 7:25 am #

    Oh good God.

    (ha! Get it?)

    One thing that gets my panties in a bunch is people selectively quoting bible verses to prove a point. It’s intellectually dishonest. (As is this argument that homosexuality is a choice which – oy – read pretty much any scientific study about it. You can “believe” anything but it doesn’t make it so.)

    The other thing that gets me is people trying to defend intolerance with charges of YOU’RE BEING INTOLERANT ABOUT MY INTOLERANCE!

    Tolerance doesn’t extend to those being cruel, hurtful, or imposing shame on good, decent people who hurt no one. And bigots are bigots, whether they think it’s sanctioned by their religion, their community, or their political leaders. It doesn’t change the fact, and kudos to you Mir for calling it out.

    What we need is more love in this world that’s out in the open. The only ones that should be in the closet feeling shameful and remorseful of who they are, are bigots.

    It’s hard to be on the side of progress sometimes. Keep fighting the good fight.

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    Debra October 12, 2010 at 7:33 am #

    Dang Mir, You certainly know how to ruffle feathers and stir the pot don’t you? :)
    Loved the post by the way. I was bullied as a kid at school. My son was bullied and made fun of most of his school life.

    It’s a horrible way to live.

    I’ve always tried to teach them to be who they are and let other people be who they are too. It’s our differences that make us interesting and it’s not our place to judge. It’s our place to be nice and give a damn about others. I’ve also tried to teach to them that while they should be themselves that if they fall too far out the social norms that they will likely end up persecuted. Be gay and folks will likely wonder if you are. Be flaming gay and you’re likely to get your car egged. But if that’s who you are you have the mental stamina to deal with it then baby go for it.

    It should matter not if you are Black, White, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Mexican, Legal or Illegal, Rich, Poor, Clean or Dirty. You deserve to be treated with the respect of any human being.

    You may not deserve everything given to you on a silver platter as some seem to think and I do agree with Amanda on one point. I’m a little sick of all the “reverse racism” that I see. The pendulum has swung too far. Reverse racism is still racism. But that doesn’t erase the fact that we should be NICE! Being nice and having a universal love for your fellow man does not mean that you have to condone or embrace every action.

    I loved this post so much I posted it to my facebook page.
    Good job Mir!

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    Mamadragon October 12, 2010 at 8:04 am #

    Well I see you found a way to up your comment numbers, Mir. :-)

    Seriously, I have to say that here in That Country to the North I find myself a little baffled by this conversation. Didn’t we stop this a little while ago? Why is this still being discussed? It saddens me to the point of feeling ill that there are still people living in a wealthy, First World country who are so intolerant and hateful, defending their intolerance on religious grounds. Really, people? That’s the best you can do? And, um, excuse me. I’d like to point out that I live in a country where gays are open about their sexuality in the military, where employment and government benefits are extended to same-sex partners, and where gay marriage is legal. This general attitude of tolerance and respect has not caused any damage to the children, to the institution of marriage, or to society in general.

    I always think I am honour-bound to teach my children tolerance and respect for diversity because I simply do not know what path their lives will take. If I give the slightest hint of hate or intolerance, any of my children who grow up to be different from the norm might take that as evidence that I do not accept them. That would be a true tragedy – if my grown children had to hide their true selves from me.

    (((hugs))) stay strong, Mir. Don’t let the bastards get you down.

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    Fairly Odd Mother October 12, 2010 at 8:07 am #

    Great post Mir.

    Kids who sit in church (or at the dinner table) and listen to someone tell them that being gay is a sin and evil and wrong are getting a very powerful message. I had a friend walk out of her Catholic church, covering her kids’ ears, when the priest started talking like this. It’s not going to go away, unfortunately, though I can only hope that more of us who would rather love than condemn stand up and support those who need it.

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    Megan October 12, 2010 at 8:47 am #

    Thank you – and thank you for your tolerance for the views of others, so politely and TOLERANTLY expressed. (dude, your zen is very impressive!)

    For those who feel that bullying of homosexual children is somehow different from bullying of others I would like you to think on the fact that I knew, at two different times in my life, two charming, delightful straight men who were viciously bullied because other children THOUGHT they were gay – just thought it. One of those, my dear friend, killed himself at the age of 18. There is no sideline in this game, there is no safe place to stand and judge.

    Bullying is wrong, teaching that someone else’s “lifestyle,” when it does not infringe in any way on the rights or beliefs of others, is wrong and it not only can but does lead to bullying and other horrible behaviours. Using God to justify bias, hatred or intolerance is not only wrong (and unbelievably arrogant) but blasphemous (and this is coming from a secular humanist).

    And, just saying, no one, NO ONE is asking for special treatment for gays. All they are asking for are exactly the same rights that straight couples have, and the ability to live their lives (their private, moral lives) in peace, without fear.

  95. 95
    JP October 12, 2010 at 8:58 am #

    Mir is right, we learn from our parents. My best friend growing up in the late 70′s was an east Indian girl. I loved her house, exotic spices and unusual foods, her mom wore a sari, her brother had super long hair….yet they were the same as us. I later found out that my Mom had been asked why they were letting me play with that “little black girl?”. My parents instilled in me that we all have differences, yet we are all the same, and all worthy of respect.

    Growing up in a small community, coming out wasn’t common. When I went to university and first encountered openly gay persons I realized they are the same as straight people – looking for love, acceptance and respect. I don’t believe homosexuality is a choice, it is part of the person. With the hard road most gay people have growing up, I really don’t think many people would “choose” to be gay.

    I am trying to instill the same ideals on my son. Everyone has differences – his cousin has diabetes, his friend has brown skin, his other friend has only a mom and no dad, and when he eventually asks why Bob and Bill are a couple I will explain that is another difference. Everyone deserves respect, whether you agree with their choices or not.

  96. 96
    Heather October 12, 2010 at 9:08 am #

    i find it sad that when a blog is about teaching our children to be tolerant and loving that it still comes down to a GLBT debate in the comments. God loves all, there is no exceptions. His tolerance is for all, no exceptions. I will not get into my beliefs, but will say that some of the opinions above are why I no longer participate in organized religion. I teach my child that all people are different and that’s what makes our world so wonderful. I also teach him that you don’t have to like everyone, but you do have to be a good person.

    A couple of years ago he came home and said “today [someone] called me gay.” He then went on to explain that gay meant happy, but that really didn’t make sense. In a way, it was a good way to have the conversation about GLBT. On the other hand, it makes me furious that I have to have the discussion because someone called him gay. I explained to him that gay does mean happy, but that is not what this child meant by calling him this. I then went on to explain about GLBT. His ending comment was they should be able to love whoever they want. He then went on to say that he thinks all kissing is pretty gross!! Too bad it won’t stay that way.

    For those who have no tolerance for any other kind of love then man loving a woman, then how would you feel if your own child was Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual or Tran sexual? I would love my son no matter who he loved. I would never tell him what he is doing is a sin or that he should hide the way he feels. My father was of the thinking that it was wrong, until I had my son and asked him, what if he was gay, what if I were a lesbian? That changed the way he felt. I find it unfortunate that his “tolerance” came from that, but it is there and really that is all that matters to me.

    Thank you Mir for being an advocate for teaching our children. I love to read your blog. It inspires me all the time.

  97. 97
    Charlene October 12, 2010 at 9:15 am #

    It amazes me that people think this is about special rights, when it’s about human rights. All human beings should have the right to live their lives with dignity and respect, regardless of who they happen to fall in love with. The “lifestyle” and “it’s a choice” comments get me really riled up, because I don’t recall ever making a choice to be heterosexual, and I know my gay friends knew that they were attracted to people of the same sex when they were very young, and also never chose to be homosexual.

    I don’t see a conflict between being a Christian and believing in equal rights for all, just as I don’t see a conflict between being a Christian and seeing evolution as scientific fact. I consider myself very fortunate to live in this country, but how much better off would we all be if we could live in a society in which all gay and lesbian people felt safe enough to live their lives openly. Then people could see that homosexuals aren’t any different than anyone else. They are your parents, your siblings, your children, your coworkers, your clergy, your teammates, your friends, your elected government officials, your teachers…

  98. 98
    Rasselas October 12, 2010 at 9:23 am #

    Not living in the USA, the comments on this post are actually the first time I’ve seen religious people speak against homosexuality as if it were a “lifestyle choice.” I can’t tell you how ridiculous that sounds – firstly, even if it was a lifestyle choice, I don’t see anything bad about it as long as it’s about love. Secondly, it’s not a lifestyle or a choice at all. You can believe all you want but the facts speak against you, and you would know better if you cared to educate yourselves from books from this century rather than a 2000 years old religious text.

    To anyone who thinks our genetic and hormonal makeup is a matter of choice, I recommend to get acquainted with the case of John/Joan, described in the book “As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl” by John Colapinto.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0060192119/qid=1086286749/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/102-5621446-7592165?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

    Further informative links about the case:
    http://www.infocirc.org/rollston.htm
    http://www.slate.com/id/2101678/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Reimer

    Gender and sexuality can’t be treated as a lifestyle choice without causing grave psychological damage to the individual.

  99. 99
    Susan October 12, 2010 at 9:27 am #

    Mir, I love you!

  100. 100
    Rebecca October 12, 2010 at 9:59 am #

    I am a Christian, and I teach my children that homosexuality is, for most people, not a choice. It’s not something a person can control. I don’t just “believe” this, I know it. My sister is gay and I watched her grow up, I watched her struggle, and I know she made no choice. It was incredibly hard for her to finally “come out” to our family. Most of us already knew and really? Nobody was surprised. It’s just part of who she is. She was born that way. People can argue with me all they want, but I’ve seen it, I grew up with it, I *know*. And yet, because of all of the intolerance and lack of understanding in the world, it was still a really, really hard thing for her to do.

    I do believe in the Bible, as a Christian. I attend a Baptist church, actually. And one thing our pastor has mentioned, on more than one occasion, is that yes, the Bible is considered to be written by God and is the Word of God, but it was penned by men. And as imperfect men, they have certainly included their own prejudices and ideas. Because of this, the Bible is not perfect, but God is. If you’re unsure of teaching your children tolerance, in any form, please pray about it. God has the perfect answer and He will guide you if you simply ask.

    So I did change my Facebook status. I am PROUD of being a straight ally. I love my sister, I tolerate her girlfriend (long story, she’s difficult at best), and I consider their children my niece and nephew. Others may not feel the need to teach tolerance of other peoples love, but I will teach my children to love those people anyway.

  101. 101
    Aimee October 12, 2010 at 10:22 am #

    Amen!!! I am so tired of intolerance. The Prop 8 debate here in California was so disheartening. I got into a conversation with one of my clients one day, and she was SO stridently of the opinion that being homosexual is a choice, and an evil choice at that, that I was practically choking with my anger and frustration at her extreme narrow-mindedness.

    I’m off to donate my status, too.

  102. 102
    PLC65 October 12, 2010 at 10:48 am #

    I do not blog, but I read your blog daily. I thoroughly enjoy your writing style. I do not comment…but today I will. I do love this post.

    My middle child is “different.” He has been bullied for what seems like the since second he took his first breath. He wore his heart on his sleeve and believed that the bullies were his friend when he was little. it broke my heart the first time I had to explain that this children were actually picking on him. The changes started slowly with him and by the he hit high school, he was used to getting bullied. USED TO IT? I type that and shake my head. How do you get used to it? Because he chose to dress differently, dye his hair, not play sports, was tall and skinny, hahas a learning disability, etc., he was picked on. Hit, knocked down, had things thrown at him daily. To me, his differences were what made him the neatest kid on earth. Unfortunately, I failed. I told him that maybe the way to get through it, until he was an adult, was to conform. Obviously, he could not change the fact that he had trouble learning, but he could stop dying his hair and dress like everyone else – you know, try to fit in. To his credit, he refused and the bullying continued. He grew to be over 6 feet tall and what he took away from his high school experience is the ability to fight. I have lost my son. Not to suicide. He quit school, moved out and is living on friends sofas and has been for 3 years. He quit life because of intolerance. I would never wish this on ANY human being but I just wish all the haters, all the people who sit in judgement, would have to walk one mile in the shoes of any person who has ever had to deal wtih this type of treatment. I watched my son’s spirit being broken and could not protect him.

    Just my two cents….I completely agree with your post as it relates to all bullying and intolerance!

  103. 103
    Shan October 12, 2010 at 10:54 am #

    Mamadragon, as a fellow Canuck, I too wonder why this is even a topic for consideration. In my mind the debate has been settled. Fall in love with whomever makes you happy. Having attended a gay wedding this past weekend, I’m just thrilled that two individuals I care deeply about were able to find love and share it with all their friends and family. Watching Bob and Mike (not their real names) get married took nothing away from Jim and Sally’s wedding the week before. My friends are happy and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters to me.

  104. 104
    Chris October 12, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    I just don’t know how to have conversations with people who think homosexuality is a sin. It’s like they’re culturally and morally Amish, and the world is passing them by. Which is fine, I guess, if you sequester yourself in communities that limit your interaction with the broader world, but you don’t.

    I’m not intolerant, I just don’t get it. Good on you, Mir, for engaging in a civil, thoughtful conversation. I am not capable of such things.

    So many people say “hate the sin and love the sinner” and it makes me ill. The moral-superiority obnoxiousness of that reeks to high heaven. Stop it. That viewpoint is so full of “but I’m right and you’re wrong, bless your heart” condescension.

    This is passive-aggressive hate. You are hating one of the things that is at the core of a person, their sexuality, and so you really are saying “I hate the part of you that significantly defines you as you. But I like the rest of you. Could you just edit out the gay parts?” Nope, not possible. Can’t edit out the gay. It is embedded in the fabric of who that person is.

    As I watch the press increasingly cover the suicides of gay teens and the recent torture of several gay men here in NYC, all I can think of is how hard it must be for the Morality Defenders to get the blood stains off their hands. I also wonder how they sleep at night.

    Sorry that is not civil. Sorry to offend. Not really sorry, but it is your blog, Mir, so sorry for bringing my rage to it. No hard feelings if you delete this comment. But I had to call shenanigans on the rationally dishonest.

  105. 105
    jenn October 12, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

    Canada legalized “gay marriage” years ago, and you know what? The world didn’t end! In fact, I would doubt that on a day-to-day basis anyone notices.

  106. 106
    Shan October 12, 2010 at 1:15 pm #

    Jenn, you’re absolutely right. The fact that gays, and lesbians can marry here hasn’t affected my day to day life at all. The only time I notice that gay marriage is legal here is when I’m invited to a “gay wedding”. Otherwise, I go about my daily life and don’t give it a second thought.

  107. 107
    Katie in MA October 12, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    Bravo, Mir.

    One of my proudest moments as a mom was when Gracie (who was just FIVE at the time) asked me if her auntie was bringing her boyfriend when she came to visit. When I told her that her auntie didn’t have a boyfriend, without missing a beat, Gracie asked, “Does she have a girlfriend?” There are very few moments as a parent when you know without equivocation that you’re doing something right, but that was one of them.

  108. 108
    Karen P October 12, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    Wonderfully written post Mir, thank you.

  109. 109
    Lisa October 12, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

    Beautiful post Mir. After reading Amanda’s (and Doug’s) posts, I feel safe in stating that defriending her was no great loss to you.

  110. 110
    CJ October 12, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    I am a Christian and fairly mortified because Christians today are known more for what some hate that the loving God they are supposed to represent. I work in the entertainment industry and, as a result, have had many homosexual co-workers many of whom are wonderful, wonderful people. I have never said, and would never say, anything about how they live their lives. It’s none of my business. Plus, I do believe homosexuality has a genetic component. Some people may “choose” that lifestyle, but I believe most homosexuals are born that way. That being said, they have no right to condemn my religious beliefs either, and that often happens, sadly, because of the way other “Christians” have decided to behave. I find that most of those “Christians” are just ignorant and regurgitate what they hear from the pulpit without thinking for themselves. However, tolerance is a two way street.

  111. 111
    Suzy October 12, 2010 at 4:13 pm #

    Mir,

    I struggled with this yesterday myself when someone posted something about Christianity and gay rights in response to my changing my status in support of the HRC National Coming Out Day. And by the way, I am gay. Then I thought – why am I going to tolerate something from my facebook friends that I would never accept from a friend in real life (and we are not friends as much as associates). So today I unfriended her and then read your wonderful post. Thank you for writing this.

  112. 112
    Amanda October 12, 2010 at 7:47 pm #

    Suzy and several others: Why is it that you are so quick to demand tolerance from the heterosexual community but when a heterosexual makes a comment against your lifestyle YOU CAN’T TOLERATE them to the point of removing them from your friends? Shouldn’t YOU be more TOLERANT?

  113. 113
    Mir October 12, 2010 at 8:05 pm #

    This is going to be my last comment. Clearly we are going to have to agree to disagree.

    While I don’t presume to speak for anyone else, Amanda, I can tell you what the difference is for me, not that it will matter much to you, I’m sure: The difference is that I am asking for folks to promote kindness, tolerance, and erring on the side of just plain being nice. You are asking for folks to promote shame. I am saying “live and let live, equal rights for all, please teach your children that everyone matters” and you are saying “you are bad and wrong and I am right and these people are less than.”

    I am tolerant of that in the sense that I don’t agree with you, but I agree you have every right to feel that way and say so. But that doesn’t mean I have to choose to read what reads to me like judgmental hatred. The BIG difference here is that my disagreement with your point of view would not lead me to conclude you should have your basic human rights restricted. I removed you from my Facebook friends, which—judging by your reaction—has had a much greater impact on your life than one would anticipate, but it doesn’t keep you from marrying who you love, and doesn’t encourage my children to judge others as “less than” just because they don’t hold the same views.

    If you still insist on calling that intolerance, I’m going to have to start saying, “That word, I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    Amanda, I truly wish you well despite our differences. I hope your heart softens, too. That’s what my understanding of God leads me to think is right.

  114. 114
    chris October 12, 2010 at 8:09 pm #

    @Amanda No, we shouldn’t be more tolerant of hate. Hate kills people. Hate destroys lives. I will not tolerate bigoted viewpoints that are intended to bully others into conforming into some ridiculous shape they were never intended to be.

    Now why don’t you go take your hate, climb back into your closet, and don’t come out until you see how silly your viewpoints are.

  115. 115
    Debra October 12, 2010 at 8:46 pm #

    Rebecca, I want to go to your church!!!

  116. 116
    Kristin October 12, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    I sure hope that all the Christians that are insisting that sin hasn’t changed in 2,000 years are following ALL of Leviticus’ laws.

  117. 117
    the mama bird diaries October 12, 2010 at 9:16 pm #

    Perfectly said. I couldn’t agree more.

  118. 118
    Cindy October 13, 2010 at 12:14 am #

    I’m an Ally and posted so. Its funny because I did consider that I might hear from someone feeling compelled to correct my misguided ideas. I better go check that! I’ll refer all arguments here. YOU ARE A (S)HERO! hmmmm. seems you’ve been blessed with a special gift and a special calling to be useful.

  119. 119
    Emily McKhann October 13, 2010 at 8:17 am #

    Mir, thank you for this amazing post!!! i wholeheartedly support your quest for kindness and respect! Not that long ago, we had laws in force that disallowed interracial marriage and segregated the races, and there were multitudes of people who hated to see these laws changed. But they did change and the laws restricting gay marriage will change too, and hopefully attitudes will come around as well. Restricting the rights of other people, using whatever rationale, is unconstitutional – and thankfully, the courts in California agreed on that just yesterday (nicely timed to Coming Out Day!).

  120. 120
    Julie @ The Mom Slant October 13, 2010 at 10:17 am #

    Mir, I am in AWE of how you’ve responded to so many of the commenters here. I envy your ability to remain calm, measured, and logical. I’m endeavoring to do the same in this comment, much as I would like to rant and rave.

    And obviously, I absolutely adore this post. Thank you for writing it, and for fostering such respectful discussion.

  121. 121
    Debbi October 13, 2010 at 4:12 pm #

    Mir, once again, I am standing up and applauding you. You are the BEST role model EVER to other parents. You are 100% correct, it is not optional. I thank you again for such a wonderful post.

  122. 122
    Birchsprite October 13, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    Amanda

    One last thing…

    I believe quite strongly that being gay is NOT just a lifestyle choice. None of us choose who we feel attracted to or who we end up loving. As far as I’m concerned, telling people that they should be ashamed of their sexuality is intolerant. I do hope that you find some peace and understanding for others. Tolerance is not a competition.

  123. 123
    nicola stockmann-tannerfors October 13, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    I love the fact that I stumbled upon this today. I’m in the midst of writing a post about culture of the individual versus the benefit of the collective whole. In short, about the selfish, ‘me’ driven world that our kids seem to be growing up in. My second grader goes to a wonderful school where teaching compassion is high on the agenda and yet I still see 5,6,7 and 8 years olds struggling to show their inner compassion least they should be mocked for it by their peers. I find that quite terrifying. I wish I could agree that teaching our kids to be ‘good’ would keep them from being bullied. For us it’s had the opposite effect so far. Slowly but surely we are infusing ‘good’ with the confidence to stand up against ‘bad’. It’s a tough call and it’d be a lot easier if people out there could just start giving a damn about everyone else…

  124. 124
    Alyce October 13, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    This was a lovely post and a wonderful conversation. Thanks for taking this on – as a human, as a parent, and as a blogger.

  125. 125
    Rachael October 13, 2010 at 6:22 pm #

    From my viewpoint, the Jesus that I serve would indeed hang out with “sinners.” He wouldn’t like their lifestyle, but he would make it his very mission to love and minister to those people who do, according to the Bible, practice homosexuality. Their sin is between them and God. I don’t approve of the lifestyle they choose to live. Where Christ comes into this is that he loves ALL people no matter who they are or what they’ve done, otherwise, none of us could come to the cross and find forgiveness. But, like Mir said, I teach my kiddos tolerance but I also share with them from a Biblical basis the difference between what is right and what is wrong. Who’s to know that because someone “comes out” that God won’t bring you the opportunity to share who God really is with them? I can love others, even if I don’t agree with their lifestyle.

  126. 126
    kapgaf October 13, 2010 at 8:13 pm #

    I have lurked for more than a year bt this post and those comments have brought me (a day late !) to say how much I appreciate this post and how you feel about tolerance.

  127. 127
    Rasselas October 13, 2010 at 8:23 pm #

    Rachael, apparently Jesus did hang out with “sinners”: prostitutes and tax collectors. But the sort even he didn’t want to hang out with were the religious men of faith of the times, the self-righteous, book-abiding people who thought they had the right to condemn others.

    So tell me, which did he consider the greater sin, the one where he couldn’t even “tolerate the sinner?”

  128. 128
    Arlene October 14, 2010 at 1:13 am #

    This is my first time visiting your blog, and after reading this post, definitely will NOT be my last. You are a stellar example of what a parent should be and should teach, and I commend you. I agree with absolutely everything you have said, the way you presented it, and the way you respond to those who don’t agree. You have gained a loyal follower, and I look forward to reading more.

  129. 129
    Trish October 15, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    hi mir, i came here from “FTK” and i’m so glad i did. as a parent and a lesbian, i worry about my daughter being bullied for who her parents are. i wish more straight parents took your position.

    as for not teaching children that homosexuality is okay (hate the sin, love the sinner)…it doesn’t work. we proved it with brown v. the board of education. separate but equal is a fallacy. when gay people are not allowed to visit their loved ones in the hospital, can’t provide insurance coverage for their family, etc, it trickles down to our youth. gay youth understand that we don’t matter; straight youth get the same message.

    it breaks my heart that all these young people have taken their lives because of the opinion of petty, mean, spiteful people. as adults, it is our responsibilty to lead the way and we are failing. we need more parents like you, mir!

    and to any gay teen who may be reading these comments, it does get better!!

  130. 130
    seahare October 15, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

    Sorry to be so crass but f*ck tolerant. I was raised by a parent who was so ‘tolerant’ that the minister gushed over her life at the funeral last year. Meanwhile the siblings carry scars to remind us that being tolerant does not mean acceptance. ‘Tolerant’ is about controlling the emotion of hatred, and behind closed doors tolerant people like my mother spew their pent up hatred at those closest to them — sometimes in words, some times with fists and kicks, always with manipulation. She was so tolerant in public, no one believed the stories we told of what happened behind closed doors. Even now, 5 and 6 decades later, extended family members and family friends refuse to believe.

    As a lifelong lesbian, a survivor of a ‘tolerant’ mother, I do not want your tolerance. I want your acceptance. If you can’t accept, that is a far more honest emotion than tolerance, and you won’t have to keep up that facade in public only to take it out on your kids behind closed doors.

    tolerance: capacity to endure pain or hardship; sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own

    acceptance: the ‘state of being’ (a honest emotion)

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