In the Philippines, “tolerance” had become synonymous with “acceptance” in discussing about sexual orientation and/or LGBTQ rights outside of the academe, that is, in casual conversation.
According Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, “tolerance” is:
1 : capacity to endure pain or hardship : endurance, fortitude, stamina
2 a : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own
b : the act of allowing something : toleration
3 : the allowable deviation from a standard; especially : the range of variation permitted in maintaining a specified dimension in machining a piece
The term “tolerance” seems to suggest a regulating mechanism which filters what can and cannot be accepted, governed by norms and beliefs that had been espoused by old institutions of proper and civilized society. It suggests, in this conversation, of heteronormative society. This society sets that the only legitimate expression of attraction or sexuality is heterosexual. Anything outside of this convention is invalidated and considered taboo.
To “tolerate”, as can be understood from the dictionary definition, is to “allow”. For me, it perpetuates the notion that LGBTQ existence thrives because it is permitted albeit with distaste. Sexual orientation is not a “belief” or a “practice”, it is a fact. It will continue to persist regardless of beliefs. Nevertheless, the LGBTQ community is forced to recognize itself vis-à-vis the conventions of society. To “tolerate” is to consent to something wrong and unpleasant.
When I would try to return to mass after years of not attending, I would find myself listening to homilies heavily laced with anti-gay propaganda. Maybe it was my fault to come back to something which regards my sexual orientation as a sin, but I thought I’d give it another try. There was an instance where after the mass a famous preacher (he’s not a priest) gave a speech about how he can be friends with someone who is gay but in the same breath admits he could never accept the homosexual lifestyle. Isn’t that a bit of a contradiction? It seems ludicrous to me to separate the person from his identity. Sexual orientation is not a “lifestyle”, it is a part of one’s self. Trivializing it into some sort of a hobby left me immensely exasperated. He went on to differentiate an active homosexual with an inactive one. Is there a fucking switch I don’t know about? It was like a yeah-you’re-gay-I-can-be-your-friend-but-don’t-go-full-homo-okay. It’s absolutely ridiculous! How could one be an active homosexual? Again, one’s sexuality is part and parcel of who you are.
People go to mass for spiritual comfort, to learn something about yourself, and how to be good to others. People do not go to mass to face bigotry. What made me so abominably angry is how that preacher has the gall to talk about the LGBTQ community when he’s so magnificently misinformed and bigoted. To make things worse, he discusses about the community with the nagging intent of perpetuating the ideology that non-straight people are sinners by virtue of just being who they are, and he discusses about it in a jam-packed auditorium in the position of a privileged straight man. It is every man’s right to believe in whoever and whatever they want to believe in, but if discrimination is justified by invoking religious freedom, that is hate speech.