Acceptance is active.
For many of us, acceptance is confused with the more passive tolerance. But acceptance is the act of receiving what is offered. It is favorable in its perspective and shows belief. For LGBT people, acceptance requires us and others to see us as fully human, not a fad, a phase, or a diagnosis to be put up with.
Acceptance is also highly associated with our well-being and health. While tolerance of LGBT people might allow access to certain rights for LGBT people (such as military service under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”), acceptance supports access to equitable treatment. Clearly while tolerance is an improvement over outright rejection or avoidance, it will not aid the healthy development of LGBT people because it also permits our less-than-complete inclusion, in short our marginalization.
In the face of tolerance, many LGBT people become resigned, bring less of themselves to their social, educational, familial, and work lives. We do not thrive and society does not benefit. On the other hand, the foundation of acceptance supports the growth, exploration and hopes of LGBT people; we bring more of ourselves to our interactions and thus society benefits.
The continuing disparities in health status for LGBT people – particularly the alarming rates of HIV infection among gay and bisexual men of color – have propelled us at Diverse & Resilient to address anti-gay discrimination and social marginalization head on. We are working to have LGBT people expect greater levels of acceptance from heterosexual people; we are also fostering communications from heterosexual people, organizations, and communities to show their acceptance for the LGBT in their lives.
When so much pressing need exists in our communities – poverty, homelessness, hunger, joblessness, limited education, literacy, illness – it might seem odd to devote limited resources to building acceptance. But, the failure to achieve acceptance actually contributes to these pressing needs and society’s inability to address them.
We know that acceptance does not just happen. It is a journey, often through unchartered territory. We believe that the destination is well worth the efforts.
Learn more about our programs related to acceptance: