Thursday, July 28, 2005

Homophobia Survey

Everyone is getting very steamed up over the survey that has revealed that two thirds of Australians no longer think homosexuality is immoral - because they're focusing on the one third we still have to win over. Two thirds looks pretty good to me - one third still means there's a long way to go. But........

Rodney Croome has been expressing puzzlement at the news that parts of Tassie are among that recalcitrant one third, yet reporters on the ground can't find anyone to say anything bad about us.

It's no great mystery: it's what's called the limit of tolerance. There's no contradiction. On the one hand, they can - - logically - see that it's wrong to discriminate or to encourage discrimination. So they'll put up with us being around - but that doesn't mean they like us. In fact, in their heart of hearts, they don't. They'll tolerate us the way I tolerate the neighbour's incessantly barking dog, which isn't to say I wouldn't happily go after it with a Kalashnikov if I had one and thought I could get away with it.

That's how 'tolerant' people think of us.

It's a major mistake we and they have made: we thought tolerance was enough, but by itself, it's not. It's only a way station, a truce, some common ground we can occupy while we cautiously get to know each other and take the first steps on the truly hard road - the road to ACCEPTANCE.

That's a very different beast, and it can't be legislated. It's something every one of us has to work for every day in our personal lives, at home, at school, at work, shopping, playing sport . . . as out gay people. Tolerance was relatively easy: we just stayed more or less the same, and asked them to change to meet us. Acceptance means we as individuals and a community have to change, too, to meet each other in the middle.

They tolerate us because they know that BEING gay can't be changed: but if you listen carefully to what they say, what they DON'T like is this thing called 'the gay lifestyle'. Sex-on-site venues, so-called 'dance parties' - actually thinly disguised orgies - casual sex in public toilets, drug use . . . . . need I go on? These are things we as a community have to tackle and probably have to grow out of to achieve acceptance.

Otherwise we can settle for being being tolerated - just - and the Kalashnikov will be waiting under the bed for us. Just in case.