[Sexuality] The Pain of Tolerance

I recently watched a film called The Miseducation of Cameron Post about a young girl who is sent to a gay conversion therapy centre by her guardians. It has mixed reviews on places like IMDB so it will likely fall short for many of you in many ways. It got me thinking about my own experiences with sexuality though and more importantly, it broke my heart when I thought of other people experiences with sexuality. If you want to watch the movie without spoilers, then now might be the time to do so.

As I’ve discussed in previous posts I’ve always been attracted to genders other than my own and it took me a while to realise that the world had a word, in fact, multiple words, for people like me. Growing up being bisexual was not actually something anyone seemed to believe to be real. Even now bisexual folk face their own set of problems in navigating their sexuality and even though it is getting better we aren’t always recognised as a legitimate part of the LGBTQ+ community, which can be hurtful and harmful to those seeking support and acceptance.

When I was a teenager I exclusively dated girls until I was nearing my twenties. My sexual identity felt closer to gay than bisexual. For some reason, gay feeling like a better identifier than lesbian and I was lucky to have access to the LGBT (as it was then) community. While I wasn’t actively out to my parents and most of my family they did know I frequented gays bars and had gay friends and there were no issues with this.

I wasn’t, however, naive enough or sheltered enough to think everyone was accepting of LGBT folks. There was definitely an air of ‘it’s okay to be that way, but we don’t want to see it’ in my family and ‘it’s okay, so long as they’re not in our family’. Which perhaps is the reason I wasn’t out to my family, I know for certain the hope that it was ‘a phase’ would have been high and they would have assumed that were the case when I met my ex-husband. In fact, given my Mum’s views on men and relationships, she was incredibly encouraging when it came to me dating and marrying my ex, despite my youth and to her knowledge lack of experience in relationships. I strongly suspect she was just glad I was ‘normal’.

I know that I had just as much chance of falling for a woman as I did a man and I know that had the situation been different I probably would have faced some challenges in acceptance but ultimately I would have still have had a home and I have would have been left to live my life the way I wanted, whether family truly agreed with my lifestyle or not. I think it is tragic that as I’m typing this paragraph I want to acknowledge how lucky I was to be in that position.

How awful is that that I feel lucky that had I been in love with a woman that the lack of acceptance I would have received was at a level that would have made my life liveable. So many folks think they’re accepting of folks that are different to them, but the language people use and the true way they see things actually isn’t acceptance at all. Tolerance is about as good as it gets for many folks who present differently to those around them and unless you’ve been on the receiving end of tolerance versus acceptance I’m not sure you can appreciate how hurtful just being tolerated is.

It’s worth noting that you may think that tolerance is enough, that your lack of acceptance goes unnoticed because you’re not outwardly being an arsehole. But trust me when I say we do notice. I try as often as possible to use gender-neutral and inclusive language in my blog post. That may falter sometimes in posts like this when I am referring to past experiences were bigendered language was all I had in my vocabulary, it, therefore, shapes how those experiences are conveyed. In posts where I have been very clear on why I have used gender-neutral langue, or that I specifically wrote an LGBTQ+ inclusive post people in my comments section will sometimes willfully ignore that.

This isn’t to say that they share there own experiences of a heterosexual relationship or their experiences as a straight cisgendered person. It’s when clarifying or specifying the sexuality or gender in relation to a kink purely as an opportunity to point out that male and female exist. As a cisgendered woman, I get that we exist. As a woman who has dated many straight folks, I also know that they exist. Honestly, the whole world has zero issues with acknowledging that straight cisgendered people exist. Here’s the thing though, people who are marginalised have to fight for their right to exist, not just in some spaces but in many cases every day in every way, can you imagine just for one second what that must be like. Constantly having to explain, justify and educate people you meet. By being inclusive on the blog I hope that when people who do identify within the LGBTQ+ spectrum visit me they don’t feel like it’s yet another place where they aren’t seen.

I’m sure you feel it is your right to reply with gendered terms for genitalia because you only believe two genders exist, or that you can justify that certain actions aren’t homophobic because you’ve said or done those things and you have a gay colleague who you have lunch with every day, so you can possibly be homophobic (FYI yes you can). Those comments niggle at me though, I see them and I feel them and you should know they don’t feel good.

Anyway back to the movie for a bit. As I watched the main character, Cameron, be sent off to her gay conversion camp my blood began to boil. Not only as someone who feels strongly connected to the LGBTQ+ community, but also as a mother and an ally, as some of the characters in the movie were there for reasons I have no personal experience of.

I cried through a good chunk of the movie, purely because my heart hurt for the people in the world who do not get to be honest about their sexuality and for the people who come out, or get outed and are subsequently disowned, sent to fucking conversion therapy, bullied, beaten or killed. For anyone who thinks I’m being dramatic, that people don’t lose their lives the world over for being gay. I beg you please, please, please pay more attention. If you believe gays folks lose their lives but not in your safe, western community then you are sorely mistaken.

To my mind simply tolerating folk is a slippery slope backwards. While it’s true that we don’t have to agree with everyone on everything I don’t understand how it is hard to offer acceptance to people who are doing nothing wrong. Folks who bring religion to the table as an argument for this are I think are deeply misguided in what it means to be a good person with a kind heart. I say this as someone who doesn’t condemn religion as a whole either. I think there are strong arguments for how faith and spirituality can enhance people’s lives, I do not, however, believe that extends to justifying your right to merely tolerate those who are different to you.

I’m not for one minute saying I’m great and that accept everyone without a second thought. Sometimes I have to educate myself to understand what it is I‘m accepting, sometimes this means changing the language I use and often it means acknowledging that prior to making those changes I probably wouldn’t have seemed very accepting of folks but merely tolerant of them.

For anyone still reading this who is convinced that their tolerance, where they are polite to LGBTQ+ folks, not cruel and don’t agree with their lifestyle but don’t outwardly voice it (that they are aware of), doesn’t make a difference to us let me raise another point.

I questioned long and hard whether or not to publish this post. I questioned long and hard whether or not I should publish a post defending a vital part of who I am as a person. This isn’t like a kink I could live without, it is a fundamental part of who I have been since day one of my existence. I have been some form of Queer for as long as I can remember. The reason I held back was that I don’t want to offend or alienate the people who I know feel this way. That feeling should not exist, I should never, ever feel that way about sharing or talking about my sexuality. I am not alone though.

People all over the world can’t live their life in a way that would make them happy because they are worried about other people’s reactions. My worry is a drop in the ocean compared to some people’s experiences, but if I ever doubted I was alone the reactions when I took to Twitter to ask if I should hit publish on this post confirmed that I was not.

I didn’t give a lot of detail in that tweet, but people still recognised the issue I was talking about. Let it sink in that all I had to do was mention tolerance vs acceptance and a bunch of other LGBTQ+ folk said ‘say it, do it, it needs to be said’. We can’t all be wrong. If we are standing up and saying ‘your tolerance is hurting us’ then to be quite frank YOUR TOLERANCE IS FUCKING HURTING US!

I’m not saying you need to make a full turn around and start declaring allyship with a rainbow flag bumper sticker on your car, but maybe, just maybe you can find it in your heart to accept that we exist through no choice of our own (although for the record, I totally would choose to be Queer every goddamn time) and all we want to do is have the freedom to love the folks we do without judgement and persecution. Accept that the love we add into the world does not threaten the moral fibres of society.

Love by its very nature should not be the thing we are judging folks for, and yes, LGBTQ+ folks are probably having sex and it’s the sex that causes the moral outrage more often than not. Seriously though, you think what genitals do or don’t go into other genitals, in the private lives of others can unsettle the delicate balance of humanities existence? If that were true then we would be long gone by now, because guys have fucking guys for all of time, and women have fucked women and people have had orgies and they’ve loved every damn minute of it and the world is still standing.

I know I will get trolled for this post, maybe more than any other post I’ve shared. One of the key points that will be made is how I’m a hypocrite. Someone, or maybe more than one someone, will tell me that if I think acceptance is so important I should accept their right to not agree with LGBTQ+ lifestyles and shouldn’t try and force them into changing. I just don’t agree though, not when those changes would make the world a better place.

For anyone who follows me who feels called out by this post, or like it was a personal attack if you need to unfollow my blog and my social media, then please do so. If you feel the need to add a hateful comment to this post then feel free to do it, it will never see the light of day. I won’t subject my readers to the bullshit bigotry and ignorance that many of my blog posts receive.

I am here, in all my Queer Leaning Bisexual (this is my official sexual identity FYI, maybe I made it up, maybe I didn’t, who knows) pride to have a rant, whilst claiming my personal blog space as an LGBTQ+ safety zone. Welcome one, welcome all. Bigots are not welcome.

27 thoughts on “[Sexuality] The Pain of Tolerance

  1. Great post – thank you for pushing the button. Read it just after hearing about the appalling attack on a lesbian couple on a London bus by some teenage boys. I thought I lived in a city that tolerance had made safe but I am clearly wrong. You have asked the right question I just wish I could give a better answer right now.

  2. Yessss!!! You have confirmed we’re both coming from the same place. Tolerance is not acceptance, tolerating who I am is not accepting me for being me.

    That said, I’m sure I’ve made mistakes in my language. My blog posts are generally heteronormative because I write about my relationship and that relationship is heterosexual, whereas I’m not. However, I do try to learn from my mistakes. I think that’s exactly what we need to do, educate and help each other get better.

  3. Well said Floss – my feeling about anybody is that they have the right to be who they want to be – I don’t shout about different genders, sexualities on my blog because I often write about my personal relationship – but what I always try and put across it that it is everyone should have right to be accepted for the individual they want to be – and not need to hide it – and if someone is happy with who they are – then I am happy with that too

  4. I frequently have talks with my children, my colleagues, friends, acquaintances, my husband, about how I wish the world was a more accepting place, and not that people would stop judging others because of their sexuality, their religion or their political beliefs. As long as people are not hurting others with who they are, why should we judge them. We should accept that we are not all the same, that we are all allowed to make our own choices, that we are who we are and not be judged for that. I never thought of the word ‘tolerance’ and how that can hurt so deeply, but you are so right, Floss, we shouldn’t tolerate, we should accept. Thank you for writing and sharing this post.

    Rebel xox

  5. Hey Floss, This is a fine, well constructed post. It deals with very emotional aspects in a balanced and rational way. I do feel called out by it, but in a ‘wake up – you can improve’ way.
    I am heterosexual, from the baby boomer generation. Not many people I know IRL are from the LGBTQ+ community so 1 paragraph in particular resonated with me: “I have to educate myself to understand what it is I‘m accepting, sometimes this means changing the language I use.”
    I now define myself (having read your post) in the tolerating camp rather than the accepting/embracing camp, but I want to do better.
    I shall endeavour to improve my wording in opinion pieces and reviews. I mostly write hetero erotica, but I shall be more mindful when I craft that too.Thank you for sharing, and by sharing educating me and other readers.

    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting Posy ❤️ I’m so pleased it is reaching people and not just people who agree but people who are taking time to think and perhaps see where they can make changes. That means so much to me

  6. So I read the book, which I felt had real potential but needed a good editor to bring it to life. I have heard the movie was better but not seen it. I might have to track it down down and see if that is true.

    I know my language in my writing can be very hetro but that is because it often reflects my current relationship(s) which fall into that category but I do work really hard to be mindful of that especially when it comes to spaces like Eroticon.


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