In the wake of tragedy, we must remember what is important.

Preserving Diversity
A Gay Opinion 9/12/01
by R.A. Melos

The United States government, today, announced the possibility of a limited lifting of the federal ban on domestic air travel within the US borders, only to allow those planes which were diverted and redirected during the tragic terrorist attack on America, to complete their journey. However, four planes and 266 lives, not to mention the countless thousands of lives touched by this tragedy on the ground, will not be able to continue on their way because of intolerance.

Now I have written a great deal on the subject of intolerance. It has always been about the intolerance directed toward homosexuals. However, today the intolerance I write of is not only directed toward homosexuals, but toward all Americans, and all people who believe in religious freedom. We are no longer homosexuals and heterosexuals, but Americans with a common enemy. Intolerance.

Suddenly our intolerance for each others sexual orientation is secondary to the direct attack on the American people in general. We are still homosexuals and heterosexuals, but we are also Americans who, no matter what our sexual orientation, love our country and our lifestyles. We love our freedom to pursue our individual lifestyles, and act as individuals. This is something which has been impacted by what essentially is the cowardly act of a bully.

It doesn't matter whether we are on a school yard playground or a world stage, the act of aggression directed toward the United States was the act of a bully trying to impose his will upon those who do not think as he does. And it doesn't matter if this bully is one man or an entire country, the act of aggression in attempt to beat those who oppose a viewpoint into submission is the act of a bully.

American people, gay or straight, will not and should not stand for this kind of intolerance. The only form of intolerance which is acceptable is intolerance of intolerance. The United States was founded on religious freedom. And for me to be a Pagan in this country and be free to pursue my religious beliefs, is a basic right I take for granted.

As a gay man who is denied so many other basic rights by my own government, I find it intolerable to have my country attacked by those who would take away a freedom I already have, out of intolerance. I am not a violent man, choosing to use words as my weapon, but I find the act of aggression upon my homeland unacceptable. I have heard several "man on the street" interviews where the sentiment of "keep your war over there," referring to the religious war in Afghanistan, has been spoken.

I too must reiterate this sentiment, but more so because I am already denied the rights of marriage and, in many states, domestic partner benefits, and the right to adopt, and I will not tolerate having any of my already existing freedoms threatened by a bully. I care not whether the acts of aggression were the planning of one man, or an entire nation, I will fight for my rights as a gay American male. Those rights which I already fight for by speaking out against discrimination and hate crimes, will now include rights which are already in place, if necessary.

The American people are not ones to lay down and allow a bully, in any shape or form, control us or take away our rights to live our lifestyles. Too many life journeys have already been disrupted, diverted and ended because of the act of a bully. I urge everyone to stand up as a nation and send a message to those who would attempt to bully us, letting them know we are a diverse country, with many diverse beliefs and lifestyles and we are going to continue to revel in our diversity.

We have a lot to overcome internally in order to accomplish this goal. We, the American people, have to overcome our own intolerance of each other's lifestyles, accepting homosexuality as equal to heterosexuality, and accepting same-sex marriage and respecting it the same as we do heterosexual unions, but I believe we can do this, because to do otherwise would be to make ourselves as bad as the bully who would take all freedoms from us in the name fanaticism.

This terrible tragedy, which has united the country, can be a growing experience for us as a people, uniting us not only in defending our diversity, but uniting us in accepting our diversity as well. We truly can be a world leading nation in all things by unilaterally wiping out prejudice toward religion, sexual orientation, and race among our own people, teaching tolerance and being tolerant of each other.

We have the opportunity to show the world we are stronger for our diversity, and will continue to grow stronger because of diversity and tolerance. We can be leaders and teachers for the 21st century, showing the way of a firm belief in tolerance.


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