19 February 2014

Great Advice

A letter to "Dear Abby" reminded me of how much work still needs to be done:

Dear Abby: My husband and I relocated to Florida a little over a year ago and were quickly welcomed into our new neighbors’ social whirl. Two couples in the neighborhood are gay. While they are nice enough, my husband and I did not include them when it was our turn to host because we do not approve of their lifestyle choices. Since then, we have been excluded from neighborhood gatherings, and someone even suggested that we are bigots!
Abby, we moved here from a conservative community where people were pretty much the same. If people were “different,” they apparently kept it to themselves. While I understand the phrase “when in Rome,” I don’t feel we should have to compromise our values just to win the approval of our neighbors. But really, who is the true bigot here? Would you like to weigh in? — Unhappy In Tampa

At least "Abby"'s response shows that she gets it:  

Dear Unhappy: I sure would. The first thing I’d like to say is that regardless of what you were told in your previous community, a person’s sexual orientation isn’t a “lifestyle choice.” Gay people don’t choose to be gay; they are born that way. They can’t change being gay any more than you can change being heterosexual.
I find it interesting that you are unwilling to reciprocate the hospitality of people who welcomed you and opened their homes to you, and yet complain because you are receiving similar treatment.
From where I sit, you may have chosen the wrong place to live because it appears you would be happier in a less integrated neighborhood surrounded by people who think the way you do. But if you interact only with people like yourselves, you will have missed a chance for growth, which is what you have been offered here. Please don’t blow it.

Perhaps the most important part of her response is in the second paragraph.  She seems to understand that "what goes around comes around" and, more important, that people like the letter-writer don't realize just how much they are living by their sense of entitlement.  They want to be accepted and included but want the right not to accept or include people whose "lifestyle choices" they don't approve. 
If someone refused that letter-writer employment for which she is qualified or housing she can afford because she is female or because of her race, religion or cultural background, I imagine she'd be furious.  I also suspect she wouldn't have stood for not being allowed to marry the man who became her husband.  she'd be furious.  Yet she probably believes that  in fighting for the same rights straight people take for granted, in marriage as well as other areas, LGBT people are looking for "special treatment."
"Abby" is right:  If people don't like people who are different from themselves, they should find ways to live and work only among those who look, think and act like them.  But they would miss out on so much.

I feel sorry for people like that.  After all, I feel sorry for anyone who would want to deprive him- or her-self of my company! ;-) 


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