The issue surrounding homosexuality in America has been a hot-button issue that has riveted this nation for decades. You would have to be living under a rock to have missed seeing issues involving the LGBT community, equal rights ordinances and same-sex marriage dominating news headlines and social media. The issue of homosexuality has also been a major topic politically and has even gone all the way up to the Supreme Court.
When President Barack Obama came out in support of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples, many people across the country weighed in on the issue. There were many people who applauded the President’s decision to support the issue, while many others expressed their disappointment with the President. President Obama has also taken the time to use the "bully pulpit" of the presidency to contact sports figures who decided to declare their sexuality preference to the general public.
There are people who have strong opinions on both sides of the coin concerning the issue of homosexuality, but the question I have is who is right? Whatever side you fall on concerning this issue, I want to know who defines what is acceptable and unacceptable in American society and popular culture?
There appears to be such a double standard when it comes to how the media and how many members of American culture treat those who have an opposing view towards homosexuality, versus those who have an opposing view towards Christianity or any other religious belief system that doesn’t embrace homosexuality as acceptable.
Take the issue involving former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, who was drafted late in the 7th round in the 2014 NFL draft. ESPN’s coverage of Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend after finding out that he had been drafted by the St. Louis Rams was shown live and replayed over and over again before a national audience. Never have I seen a media outlet show a replay of an athlete kissing someone, so many times. There were many people who didn’t like it and found it unacceptable, so they shared their thoughts via social media.
Retired NFL running back Derrick Ward, who sent out a tweet expressing his displeasure about ESPN showing the kiss between Sam and his boyfriend, started receiving despicable responses and there were even death threats directed towards Ward and his children. Was Ward being a bigot, because of his comments, or has America become dominated by people who monitor and control our conversations and tell us what is and what isn’t culturally acceptable?
I mean, some people can be so downright disrespectful and demeaning when someone differs with their belief or opinion, that they lack "tolerance" and become downright abusive and viciously attacking those that are on the opposite end of the spectrum.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, "tolerance" is defined as "sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own." As I see it, whenever a person has a differing position on issues like homosexuality, politics or religion, there are some people who tend to respond emotionally and seek to vilify those who have a different belief and value system than they do. In my opinion, "tolerance" means respecting another person’s beliefs or opinions, without being forced to accept them as my own. I mean, I can respect a person’s point of view, but I shouldn’t be forced to have to agree with it.
When ESPN NBA analyst Chris Broussard responded to a question about whether the NBA was ready to deal with openly gay players in the league, after NBA player Jason Collins shared his sexuality with the world, he was raked over the coals for honestly responding by professing that he was a Christian and that according to what he believed, homosexuality was a sin. After a barrage of phone calls and emails and a social media attack, Broussard was forced to issue a statement about the issue, to which he indicated his thoughts were his personal opinion.
Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones was recently fined and banned from team activities after tweeting "omg" and "horrible" when seeing the Sam kiss on television. Jones was forced to issue a public apology to Sam for his "inappropriate comments."
Most people are so passionate about what they believe that they can or will never deviate from that. You are never going to get 100% of people to unanimously support any particular issue, so people should be realistic about that; but people with religious beliefs don’t always receive the same respect for their views and "tolerance."
When I look back at remember how former NBA basketball star A.C. Green was treated when he openly professed to living an abstinent lifestyle, he wasn’t given the same "tolerance" as others. When Tim Tebow shared his Christian beliefs with the world, he wasn’t given the same "tolerance" as others; as a matter of fact, many of his fellow NFL players, such as quarterback Jake Plummer, said they wished Tebow would just "shut up" with all of the Jesus talk. There was no media outcry about that, nor was anyone forced to issue an apology or a statement.
Look, I know what the dictionary says about tolerance, but the question really is, are true "tolerance" and acceptance of others’ beliefs, faiths and opinions really being administered fairly to everyone or only for those who dictate what is acceptable or unacceptable in today’s society and culture? I really do hope I can get an answer.
I am not concerned about how grown individuals choose to live their lives together, but I do have a problem with how it appears that we as Americans are constantly being told what to think, whether it is good or bad. Every word we say is being overly criticized by the thought police and if you are paying attention, we are starting to see that many of us are being punished and much of our freedom is being taken away for having thoughts that are different from popular culture.
Again I ask the question – who defines what is acceptable and unacceptable in American society and popular culture?