Recently, we had a person come to our usual social gathering. She seemed generally nice, mellow, to an extent interesting. She seemed like someone we would want to invite to our little clique of friends. Till at one point, she asked this question, “So, what do you guys think of gay marriage?” The troll in me responded, “Oh, completely against it! Marriage really should be between a man and a woman, that’s it!”
To this she replied, “Really! See, someone who agrees with me..”
My head almost exploded with a massive “what the fuck just happened?” moment. Still, to see the extent of this person’s views, I trolled further by saying, “I know right! I mean, being gay, it is just, abnormal.”
I kid you not, she responded saying, “Exactly. That is so true!”
At this point, I decided, this is not someone I shall ever spend my time socially with. I made it clear to everyone after she had left and some of the folks did not agree. Their point of view was, how was it different that I was discriminating against her based on an opinion, than her discriminating against gay people? The principle was the same, wasn’t it?
No. It isn’t.
Let me tell you a story. There was a boy who was born Joshua Ryan Alcorn. Since the age of four, Joshua felt that there was something very wrong with him. At fourteen, he discovered what transgender meant and, in his words, cried tears of happiness. After years of confusion, this child had finally realized that there was nothing wrong with him and that he was just trying to be a gender that he wasn’t. He picked the name Leelah and Leelah begged her parents to let her undergo gender transition treatment. Two years later, Leelah Alcorn, killed herself.
Her parents put her through Christian “conversion” treatment, told her that God does not make mistakes and that she was just wrong. It was drilled into her head that she was being selfish and that she was going to go to hell. Her access to social media was cut off and she was verbally abused by her parents on a regular basis. Her parents loved Joshua Alcorn. Her parents also believed that what Leelah was, was an abomination and abnormal.
What fascinates me though is that her parents, were probably quite vocal about their beliefs. People who knew them, would often share the same beliefs and even if they didn’t, would care too much. I mean, they were entitled to their own opinion right? Why would their friends ever judge them on it?
I fucking wish they did. I wish that every single person who ever heard them express this opinion shunned them or insulted them to their face for it. I wish that they lived in a society where it was NOT okay to hold a belief that a person being who they are, were somehow abnormal or going to hell or sinners. I wish that all of those people who were tolerant of the Alcorn’s beliefs were NOT so tolerant.
Maybe, if that was the world they lived in. Maybe, then just maybe, there might have been a chance that they wouldn’t have mentally tortured their only child. Maybe, then just maybe, Leelah Alcorn would still be alive.
Bill Maher put this rather simply. “Don’t become so tolerant that you tolerate intolerance.”
So no, I will not tolerate intolerance. I will not dismiss it as “just an opinion.” I will not accept them as they are. It is these people that propagate beliefs that ’cause misery and sometimes even deaths of people whose only fault was to be born a certain way.
Leelah Alcorn did not commit suicide, she was murdered. She was murdered by her parents. She was murdered by the society she lived in. Every single person who knew of her parent’s homophobic beliefs and just looked the other way?
Each of them, in a tiny little way, was her murderer too.