Letter: Learning LGBT acceptance

On June 15, I attended the Louisiana Pride Fest in Baton Rouge to support the wonderful people of the gay community in my church and at large.

At the festival, many in attendance were dressed in ways that reflected their unique characteristics. At the moment I entered the atrium at the Belle of Baton Rouge, a drag queen was on stage belting out a song.

After briefly assisting at my church’s table, I left with a friend to rearrange vehicle parking so that we and others would have a ride back to the other vehicles after the march.

While on this errand, I remarked to my friend that I felt it was lamentably self-defeating that, in their efforts to show people their special humanity, many gay, lesbian and transgender people “flaunted their extreme” characteristics.

My friend agreed.

But then, during the march, as I walked with, talked with, and listened to all the interesting people around me, it occurred to me that regardless of my verbal and active acceptance of them, I had a serious defect in my understanding. (And, consequently, was actually a part of the problem that I presumed myself to be fighting.)

These “extremes” that were being displayed were not a deliberate attempt to “get in people’s faces.” They were manifestations of the desires that these people feel inside them every day but are not free, due solely to societal fears, to live openly.

And as absurd as it is to have to point it out, they’re just as harmless as people with average characteristics. In fact, they may be even less likely to harm others, having had personal experience with the consequences of people’s viciousness.

Consequently, I’d like to express my profound gratitude to all of my gay/lesbian/transgender friends and fellow humans — first, for being willing to share your selves and your lives with me and, most importantly, for filling in a missing stone in the foundation of my understanding of life. You now have one less ignorant person who is unable to appreciate you for the goodness that you, and all people, have inside of you.

As the struggle for civil rights for African-Americans has shown, eliminating common (and understandable) human ignorance, and the anger and fear it engenders, is a perpetual struggle.

However, as I can testify, progress can, and will, be made.

Wayne L. Parker

technical writer