Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tolerance and respect

Solidarity, Allied, Allegiance, total and absolute acceptance, tolerance...these are just a few of the words and statements that I have read from several sources from the CBC, Free Press, Globe and Mail.  It seems that the small town of Steinbach has now hit the National News.

With an event that was supposed to be around 200, it grew to exceed between 2500-5000 people which comprised of many people traveling to Steinbach to attend the parade.

The planners are excited that this shows that equality is needed in every community, no matter who or where that community it.

Something hasn't been sitting well for me as I reflect on the parade.  Not in terms of people feeling liberated to 'be who they believe they are and to feel safe to live that out in their community' because I am against all forms of bullying and injustice.  Rather I attest to the double standard and the practice of bullying tactics which are now being used by 'some people and their allies' within the LGBTQ community.

Okay, before you jump all over me, please hear me out.

First, I know bullying first hand.  Growing up in a small rural town in Manitoba, I know what it feels like to be bullied every day.  To be called a faggot, fairy, to be jeered at, gestures so cruel, it is a wonder that I survived (and I am serious about that!)  I've been chased by cars (even after graduating) and I don't recall any safe person who stood up for me, other than my twin brother. (thank you!!!)  I even had a teacher bully me!  Bullying and injustice are not acceptable in my eyes.

Yet, this bullying didn't give me free pass on bullying others, it did not make it right for me to bully anyone else.  No matter how hard it was for me!  Yet, I bullied.  When I came out in 1997 as a gay identified man, I was so hurt.  I felt justified in my hurt to try to demand that everyone accept the way I was living.  I demanded that everyone just 'accept ME!' Yet for the most part, I wore blinders unable to see that people had already accepted me as a person, but that acceptance for me as a person didn't mean that they had to now approve of how I was living.  I demanded total acceptance...PERIOD.  The true definition of tolerance and respect means that two people can come to a different conclusion on a matter, and still love and respect one another.

I lacked that in my life.  I had a hard time tolerating and respecting those who because of their faith in God believed differently than I.

This all changed when I grew in relationship with a few people.  While gay identified, I had a few Christian friends who believed that to act out on homosexual desires was sinful.  That it was not God's best for me.  Even with this belief that was not going to change, they loved and respected me.  They showed me tolerance and respect.  This began to shift my own thinking.  How was I showing that same respect and tolerance?  It wasn't going to shift in my demands that everyone 'change' their belief, but rather, it shifted in my understanding that to be tolerant and respectful was to see difference as okay.   It's how we treat one another in the process.

Even though I no longer identify as a gay man and am married to a woman, I seek to live this attitude of respect out to the best of my ability. (No one is perfect, but I seek to love others with God's help)

So when I read articles that disrespected people who chose not to attend the Steinbach pride parade because of their belief (specifically MP Ted Falk) it bothered me. It showed a total lack of respect and tolerance of another persons view.  Just because Ted Falk chose not to attend the pride parade due to his integrity of belief, does not mean that he does not accept and respect others with a different belief system as his.

'Everybody has rights' is the statement that has been stated by the LGBTQ Allies (as is stated in a few of the articles) and if this is so, then sit with that statement.  Let it rest in your head and your heart.  Try to filter it through the other persons belief rather than your fear, your hurt and your own limited understanding.  (this by the way goes for those on both sides of the issue!)

How about before we begin speaking, we begin talking with one another.  Get to know someone who is different than you.  How about you let your fear go and seek to love and ask questions...and listen.

Enough said..."I'm going to go listen!"


Chris said...

Kenny Warkentin: Thank You so much for putting your story out there. Your perspective on this issue is so appreciated.

kenny said...

thank you. I appreciate your comment very much!