A Lesson Tolerance and Intolerance

Published in Cult Noise.


During the weekend of August 22-23, all genders, sexualities, shapes and sizes flocked to the streets of Glasgow, Scotland, for Gay Pride – the parade for homosexuals in Scotland, now with new charitable status.

On these two days it was clear: in the same way the Scottish government has grown to accept homosexuality as a legal right (as opposed to a choice which may or may not gain the support of the general public) so, too, have the Scottish people. And what a colourful sight George Square was as a result of accepting the choices of others.

That’s what we are as people, you know. Colours. For every person with a personality, there is an exclusive colour to represent them. And, collectively, as a nation of unique individuals, our differences are so potent that together we represent all the colours of the rainbow.

 

However, whilst the cheers of freedom bounced between the walls of Glasgow’s narrowest and dingiest alleyways, there was an elephant in the ‘square’ proving difficult to ignore. It stood clapping from the side lines, clothed not in rainbow flags, carrying a Bible and a cross around its neck. Unlike the gays of 2015, its beliefs are still grossly misunderstood and often earn it a bad reputation amongst the gay community as a result of misinterpretation and, on the whole, a lack of education.

First and foremost, I don’t classify myself as homosexual or homophobic, and nor do I have any particularly strong religious beliefs. What I do have are homosexual friends and, as a result of recent social advancements, they are some of the most content people I know. I also have Christian friends, some of which have been brought up through life with the Christian faith here in Scotland. They have been taught to read the Bible as if it were a manual for living. It does not make them any better than you or I, but they are very content with their lives – most of the time.

The reason why both sides often clash is that Christianity involves personal development for a later reward whereas homosexuality demands to be heard now. Both cannot work in tandem because there is a lack of understanding of what ‘tolerance’ and ‘intolerance’ actually mean, and this sets a divide between both parties before a relationship has even begun.

‘Tolerance’, in its raw definition, means accepting, loving and respecting someone despite not believing or agreeing with something they believe in, represent or practice. For example, if a close friend decides to start smoking, you likely would not cancel your entire relationship on account of you thinking smoking is bad for them. Similarly, a Christian raised by the word of God to disagree with homosexuality does not render them ‘intolerant’, which by definition would involve rejecting, disrespecting and actively hating another person because of their clashing beliefs.

At the end of the day, most Christians are raised to emulate Jesus himself who allegedly loved all unconditionally. This goes to show that because a person doesn’t like something you practice, it does not mean they are incapable of maintaining a relationship with you – or worse, it does not mean they will slate or bad-mouth you to other people.

Publicity surrounding churches would have you believe otherwise that Christians are not intolerant. A large white and black “GOD HATES FAGS” banner outside of an American church springs to mind which has been cropping up on social media for years now. In the same way we cannot assume every feminine man or butch woman is gay, we also cannot assume that all Christians are radical Christians who hate the entire gay community.

 

Image courtesy of Elvert Barnes via Flickr

Passing gay rights has been a work in progress for a very long time with places like the Republic of Ireland only attaining the right of same-sex marriage this year. For many traditional people, gay marriage is not something that comes with appeal, in the same way that The Conservative Party policies appeal to England more so than they do Scotland. Therefore, meeting all religious believers with hate, guilt and hostility because they don’t like the idea of homosexuality is intolerant. Not everybody likes religion and there is no one pressuring them to support Jesus with a parliamentary vote.

I for one am very much in a place in the middle with hardly any political beliefs, religious motivation or problems with who a person loves. In my eyes, the world should be a place where we can all be different, love who we want, study what we want, and worship who we want – be it a God or our partner here on earth. So long as we do not hate each other for not supporting each other’s causes, there is no reason in this day and age why we cannot all love, respect and accept those we care about for the people they are and the choices they make

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