In the 1960s when I was a teenager, the term gay meant happy. Even though I knew that one of the English teachers in my high school was "effeminate," I still had no idea what homosexuality was. As a matter of fact, the first time I met a gay person was when my oldest daughter married a man whose mother was gay.
Today, most children understand not only what it means to be gay, but also how easily they can bash around this group of people – oftentimes with support from fellow classmates, teachers, and even administrators.
I've seen parents disown their own children after discovering their children were gay – and I can't help but wonder – how can a mother or a father suddenly stop loving a child because that child is gay?
And how difficult must it be for gays to "come out" to loved ones? One of my dearest friends is gay. He agonized over telling his wife and his children. His experience was so excruciatingly painful, in fact, that I have to ask, "Why would anybody choose to be gay?" I honestly think that if people had a choice, they would choose to be straight simply to avoid the hate, the rage, and the anger flung at them.
Gays are persecuted mercilessly from an early age. A little boy gets called a sissy; a little girl is labeled butch. Why?
How many times have I heard Bible-toting judgmental people (who call themselves Christians, by the way) admonish gay people by telling them they are evil.
Again, I am perplexed. The two gay people I know are in committed, loving relationships. How can love be evil?
I wonder, if I were to suddenly awaken tomorrow morning and find out I was gay, would my family still love me? Would my friends? I would hope so.
Thankfully (and I say thankfully because of what I've seen gays go through) I'm not gay. I don't think I would have the stamina to deal with people who hated me for being gay, because unless I was Ellen Degeneres or Jane Lynch, I would probably find myself hiding from my tormenters as I know many gays still do. I might even have been one of those poor unfortunate souls who committed suicide because I just couldn't stand being surrounded by so much hatred every day.
Why do people think that being gay is a choice? Would YOU choose to be persecuted relentlessly every single day of your life?
And what if one day you discovered one of your children or grandchildren was gay? You know what? I can say with certainty that I would love my child or grandchild as much as I do today. Unequivocally.
I've said it before. I'll say it again. It's time we stopped just tolerating people and started accepting people for who they are. If we haven't learned by the time we are adults how to empathize, we have to start over. Empathy is the first step toward acceptance.
We must also teach our children to be empathetic and to learn the difference between tolerance and acceptance. Above all, we need to learn – and we need to teach our children – to STOP THE BASHING!
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