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I Do Not Deserve Your Tolerance

by David Badash on January 13, 2009

in Discrimination,Marriage,Politics

I am an American citizen. I pay taxes. I vote. I have a passport. I volunteer my time and voice and donate money to charities or causes I believe in. I have a college degree from a pretty good school. For most of the time since I was fifteen I have worked, often 60 – 80 hours a week. I am in a committed relationship. I try to call my mother a few times a week. I hold the door open for anyone in front of or behind me. I’m generally the last one out of the elevator. I’ve contacted my local government when I believed something needed improvement. I have good, long-term friendships. I’ve given money to friends who needed help. I’ve lent countless items to friends, assuming they will not be returned. I’ve worked to help people I know who were in crisis get through the next day. I’ve sat on the phone for hours with people who were depressed. I have a dog, the second one I’ve rescued from a shelter. I feed and walk him, a lot. I pick up after him, every time. I am called upon to help or give an opinion several times a week. I’ve done jury duty. I have never been arrested. I am financially self-sufficient. I have a few credit cards. I have an apartment. I have homeowners’ insurance. When I needed a car for work I got one, kept it in good shape, kept it insured. I have a home air purifier. I take vitamins. I try to eat well and take care of myself physically and mentally. I have a primary care physician. I always bring a gift to a host or hostess when I am invited into their home. I say “please,” “thank you,” and, too often I’m told, “I’m sorry.” I sometimes send out Christmas cards. I call friends to say “Happy Thanksgiving.” I, not infrequently, get calls from people who used to work for me asking if I would given them a reference. I rarely say “no.” I rarely say “no” when asked to do anything for someone. No one knows this, but I am the only person in my building of over 300 apartments who calls the laundry company when the machines break. I sometimes go into the recycling bins and re-sort them when my neighbors mix paper and plastic. I always leave a good tip, usually more than 20%. I don’t yell at waiters or waitresses, though I have yelled at drivers who run red lights. I keep my TV and music at a reasonable level, especially late at night so I don’t disturb my neighbors. I’ve installed dimmers in my home to conserve electricity. I have a checking and a savings account. I almost always pay my bills on time. I have an excellent credit rating. I tip all the doormen and maintenance people in my building at Christmas. I’ve lived in the same apartment for nine years. I backup my computer. I buy extended warranties on expensive electronics. I try to share information as often as I can. I generally pay more than my share when going out to dinner with friends. I generally return calls within twenty-four hours. I keep my home reasonably clean. I subscribe to a daily newspaper, and try to read it almost every day. I keep abreast of current events. I receive my news from a wide variety of sources. When disagreeing with someone, I try to remain civil and respectful. I take my dog to the dog park several times a week. I know he would like to go more often. I compliment strangers sometimes. I call restaurants to cancel if I can’t keep my reservation. I try to validate my friend’s feelings and listen to their thoughts openly. I rarely boast or brag. I try to patronize local businesses. Although it’s hard for me to say this, I’m pretty certain I will have left somewhat of a positive impact on the world by the time I’m gone. I scattered my father’s ashes where he wanted me to. I flew with my family to attend my grandmother’s funeral. I was captain of the safety patrol in sixth grade. I was president of the theatre society in high school. I wrote to my congressmen to help save the dolphins from tuna fishermen when I was a boy. I want to get married. I can’t, because I’m gay.

I grew up feeling sad and different and sometimes ashamed.

I no longer am sad, I’m glad I’m different, and I’ll be damned if I’ll ever be ashamed of who I am or what I believe. Because what I believe is that we are all the same. We are all equal. We all deserve to love and have our love recognized.

I think I’m a pretty good person. I know I’m as good as anyone else. I have done little enough wrong to deserve your forgiveness. I’ve done nothing that deserves your pity. And I know that I am good enough to not deserve your tolerance.

Tolerance is for someone who doesn’t know better, like my dog who likes to jump on people. Tolerance is for someone whose views negatively impact your life, like people who want to stop me from loving the man I love, with all my heart. I do not want your tolerance. I do not deserve your tolerance. I will not accept your tolerance, any longer. What I will do is my best to ensure that we are all given equality and the legal right to love and marry the person who loves us back. From now on I will tolerate nothing less.

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GregS January 13, 2009 at 11:35 pm

Truly inspiring. There is a difference between tolerance and acceptance that too often is not recognized.

David Badash January 14, 2009 at 11:38 am

Greg, thanks for your comment and kind words. I just got tired of being told that gays are supposed to be tolerated, preach tolerance, and tolerate others. I think we’ve earned the right, although we never should have needed to, but we’ve earned the right to be welcomed into society on equal footing. And until we stop accepting our second class status, it’s not going to change.
Thank you.

Incognita May 31, 2009 at 3:18 am

This is a beautiful post David. I especially love this "We all deserve to love and have our love recognized."
As you have said in reply to Greg, "we've earned the right, although we should never have needed to." I think those who tolerate rather than embrace diversity in all its forms are the losers, their lives are diminished. Sadly their negativity is allowed to affect the world. They are the ones who should (or should I say shouldn't?) be "tolerated" as they drag down all of humanity and thwart progress. Keep up the good work David. I am your keen follower on Twitter and look forward to lots of your writing.

k_michael February 25, 2009 at 2:40 pm

I find it interesting that we’re admonished to be accepting of people’s appearance, attitudes, sensitivites, moods, rights, taste, spending habits, and etc., and so on, and so forth, and yet, the *instant* many people see a woman with “too-short” hair, or ehar a man speak with a certain inflection, they *instantly* judge that woman or man as being less-than-human.

We’re all supposed to accept other people’s lifestyles and genetic traits and momentary desires, and yet, something that has been scientifically shown to be largely a genetic trait is labelled a “lifestyle” by poeple whose protests woudl be loud and long if one proclaimed that having blue eyes, or large feet, is also a “lifestyle”.

Even in terms of lifestyle, the Constitution grants citizzens the RIGHT to “the pursuit of happiness”. Beyond that, however, those who insist that it’s acceptable to condemn others merely on the basis of a personal trait, also insist that the lifestyle of celebacy isn’t “good enough” for them – anyone who is attracted to members of the same sex *to any degree* are to be treated as sub-human creatures, period and end of discussion, because they don’t like what they imagine (fantasize?) that such creatures do with their genitalia.

Personally, I find it to be more than a little disturbing that such people seem to spend far more time than I do thinking about what they imagine my genitalia, and use thereof, to be. Their obsession is downright creepy. It’s also a waste of time and energy – when I see videos of homophobes marching and chanting at funeral processions of nto only gays, but even of soldiers who gave their lives to the service of our Nation, what strikes me is the pathetic waste of potential ability, potential creativity, and how sad it is that they are united mainly by obsessive hatred. Even if one does think that two verses form Leviticus are The Absolute Truth, doesn’t most of the Bible (and other holy writings) teach people to emphasize freindship, agape, love? What is the origin of such consuming hatred?

I don’t expect such people to accept, or even merely tolerate, much of anything, or anyone, who is not an exact clone of themselves. There have always been, and will always be, some people whose inner landscapes are so barren, so devoid of life, that they hide from themselves amonf the flames of hatred. It’s worthy, not of anger, but of pity.

What I do expect, however, is for the law to be applied fairly and equally, as teh Constitution instructs it be applied. If hatred had been allowed to overrule the Constitution, not only would women have no right to vote, and not only would African-Americans still be toiling in slaveowners’ fields, but there would be no America, because American has survived by growing, adapting, evolving, and most especially, by becomeing more, not less, inclusive.

If people choose to waste their lives on hating somethign or someone, that is their choice. What is not their choice, however, is to use their own personal mental illness to obstruct the Constitutional rights of others.

BlueLinchpin April 8, 2009 at 3:35 am

You know, you're right, and I've never thought of it that way. Tolerance implies someone else being gay harms or should bother anyone else.

Jeff April 17, 2009 at 9:54 pm

I have always hated that word, "tolerate" when applied to community relations. I don't simply "tolerate" Blacks, I embrace, love, and celebrate my Black friends as much for our differences as for our similarities. I don't "tolerate" physically challenged people, I applaud them for their bravery and work with them to make the world better for everyone. I am gay, I don't want to be "tolerated". I want to the same respect given to any human being.

You make outstanding points in your blog. Thank you for posting it.

Maureen May 26, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Loved the article and it's very true.

Liz June 4, 2009 at 2:06 am

I'm not gay but if I was being tolerated would be terribly offensive to me. It is an insult and I can't believe that everyone cannot understand that. I'm tired of gay people being treated like second class citizens. Thank you for writing this.

Paul in Dallas June 4, 2009 at 2:51 am

The first sentence should be the only argument needed to be treated equally under the law: "I am an American citizen."

I am glad that state after state is coming around and including same sex marriage equality.

I think, however that this should not be a state by state issue. I think this should be a federal issue. We are all first and foremost citizens of the United States. I believe something as fundamentally important as a person's life partner, has to be protected under federal law.

I realize that momentum has to start somewhere, and perhaps eventually, it will become a federally protected right. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) became a federal issue to protect disabled peoples' rights.

Mr. Badash, I think your article is great. I can totally identify with your words. Thank you for your wonderful and inspirational article.

Bisexual in Seattle June 4, 2009 at 4:35 am

Well said, sir. :)

This may be a semantics issue, but I see your point. While the word Tolerance itself has a "good" definition (being tolerant of other cultures, religions, etc.), it also has a bad one – putting up with something unpleasant.

I think that I would prefer the word "acceptance", myself. At least that implies that people understand who we are and are willing to accept that without negative connotation. :)

dacheatbot June 4, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Gay kid from California:

Thank You

Ringbearer June 4, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Excellent article, very well stated and presented. There should be no negativity in recognizing love and marriage in any form, LGBT or otherwise. Wishing the best to you David, the times are changing and the world will see more people of your caliber in the forefront.

geekgirl June 21, 2009 at 10:58 pm

You are amazing! What a great article. I wish everyone were like you.

With respect, admiration and a big smile of friendship.

B. Peregrine June 26, 2009 at 12:14 pm

I've hated the word "tolerance" since middle school, when my public school launched a "tolerance" campaign to convince us kids to "tolerate" each other's "differences" (they meant racial differences). So thank you for this post.

I just wish so many of your examples of good citizenship didn't have to do with money. There are a lot of lower-middle-class, poor, and working-class queers out there, who can't be good citizens in the ways you can. We are good citizens nonetheless and, like you, do not deserve anyone's "tolerance."

vonlicorice July 1, 2009 at 11:09 am

This piece is great. I've often thought about how much better I'd do than many of the people on the other side of this debate if we all received some sort of general goodness report card. I was raised outside of any church, but I was raised right and I would put my morality up against that of any person of faith, assuming we could find an unbiased referee. In fact, I think my morality is all the stronger for not being tied to any particular dogma because it ensures that I am flexible and approach any given ethical dilemma with an open mind. Of course, truly moral religious people do the same thing. But I’m getting away from your excellent point that we have done nothing to deserve “tolerance” and I agree wholeheartedly with the commenter who said that your first sentence alone should be enough to guarantee our equal rights and treatment.

If I may make a brief critique, the list of your good deeds runs on slightly long and then near the end comes “I rarely boast or brag,” which caused a “yeah right!” to invade my enjoyment of the message for a moment. I realize this is probably a self-aware little joke but, considering the earnestness of the piece on the whole, I don’t think it quite works. Also, so lame of me, but I gotta point out that you use “too” when you mean “to” in the line about your father’s ashes. This is insignificant stuff, though, compare to the strength of what you are saying, particularly in the last few paragraphs. Keep it up!

Jay July 2, 2009 at 8:34 pm

This is a wonderful–at once moving and pointed–essay. Thank you for writing it. And thank you for the work you do. You are helping make our country a better place.

Jason Cupitt July 7, 2009 at 3:11 am

Very well said David.

Tolerance is a word I've always had issues with and it's a word that pops up frequently wherever gay and gay rights are mentioned. It implies a reluctance. "We'll tolerate – but not accept."

Who wants to be merely tolerated? Not me.

LOrion July 14, 2009 at 5:02 am

First visit, found throught Waymon H's tweet. Will return.

Todd July 21, 2009 at 7:23 pm

This article is pretty sad. My initial thought is that David is working really hard to impress people by what he does (or does not do) rather than looking at what is truly important in life. Realization that this life is not about ourselves and what we do, but more about what we are doing as a result of an afterlife perspective.

- David, I hope you figure it out before you encounter death on this earth.

planetspinz September 16, 2009 at 1:45 am

Our constitutional must be unconditional, and not depend on the approval, acceptance, agreement or tolerance of heterosupremacist tyrannical theocRATS.

RJ Strittmatter September 17, 2009 at 6:45 am

An excellent article.

Years ago I was at my high school reunion when, after more than a few drinks all around, one of my former classmates says to me, "Y'know…. If being gay makes you happy, then it's OK with me."

"Well, thanks!" I said loud enough for everyone present to hear, "I've been waiting twenty years just to get your approval. Now I can be myself and get on with my life!"

Later I was approached by a few of the others who had witnessed the exchange and they told me that that was no way to behave if I was expecting to win the tolerance of others. I'll never forget the looks on their faces when I told them I had no interest in tolerance, though I wasn't able to articulate the reasons as eloquently was you have.

Mark September 29, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Okay. So what you're saying is, you're a fucking asshole.

Barbaradell October 3, 2009 at 2:08 pm

I understand and agree with you completely. There is good in most people besides race religion belief or sexual preference and I think it is about time that people stop judging and start loving. Thank you for coming and and standing up, it is to my belief that you are an amazing person.

Have a great weekend,

brittney October 7, 2009 at 12:52 am

this is amazing. i wish that everyone could read this because it is so true and sincere. i'm passing it on to everyone i know

Ray in DC/Newsericks October 31, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Excellent piece. Noone wants to be merely tolerated, but often tolerance is the necessary first step away from bigotry, and it is a crucial one from a legal perspective. Check out and other poems about political and social intolerance at and here's a short one on marriage equality:

Some people say
I shouldn’t marry because I’m gay
But that is to betray
The basic principle of the USA.

Marriage equality
Is not a frivolity.
How would you like to be
A second class citizen like me?

Amanda May 25, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Thank you for sharing this post with me. I know that we will both see a time where all people are treated equally and legally allowed to marry who they want. Let's all keep working together to make sure this happens sooner rather than later!~

Rowan June 22, 2010 at 3:13 pm

Beautifully written. Thank you.

Mark September 29, 2010 at 1:22 pm

David – you are an eloquent writer. As a produced screenwriter of feature films and as a working director, I absolutely LOVE to read pieces written by someone who obviously loves the written word. But you are also nothing more than a small cog in a wheel called "gay rights". As a heterosexual male, tolerance – and a small slice of dismay – is about the best you'll get from me. And that's a LOT better than what you'd get from a lot of straight guys in this country, and we both know it. Live and let live is my motto. Different strokes for different folks.

But I also sense a lot of anger and righteous indignation in the tone of your little op-ed piece. The anger I get. The righteous indignation I do not. I suggest you quit pouting, quit raging against the machine, get off your high horse, and just get on with it.

Personally, I am sick and tired of having the "gay agenda" involuntarily thrust upon me, and I am tired of being painted as some kind of villain because I have sex with women. I am tired of gay "rights" being pressed upon me and everyone else, most of whom think that gays should just shut the fuck up and get on with their own lives. Here in California, the gay marriage debate has raged for years. Twice it has been sent to the voters, and twice it has been shot down. But the gays want their "rights", even though a majority said, NO. So now it's in the hands of the courts, and will probably be tied up in court for years, possibly decades. So what have the gay rights people accomplished? In day to day life, they have accomplished NOTHING. Nothing has changed. Gays still can't marry in Cali.

If you want to be pissed at someone, be pissed at Bill Clinton. He got elected by courting and carrying the gay vote. He promised a repeal of the gay ban in the military, hinting that gays would be able to openly serve. What he gave you was "Don't ask, don't tell". I was in the military back then, and I can tell you this – absolutely NOTHING CHANGED for gays in the military. They were still closeted, and if they were outed, they were gone. Clinton let you folks down, BIG TIME. He pulled the wool over your eyes to get elected, then he forgot out you.

At least with me, you know what you're getting. I still tolerate you. I still accept you for your talents and your right to live in peace unafraid of gay bashing or assault, molestation, etc. I believe what you do and who you do it with is your own business, not mine. But I draw the line at marriage rights. Our society – indeed ALL societies around the world and throughout human history – has been built upon some form of heterosexual marriage. Fuck with that, and you're fucking with the very foundation upon which American life is built upon.

Lynn February 12, 2011 at 3:12 pm

You know what's sad is that you never once mention the word of God in anything you say. It is His commands that we are to live by but noone seems to want to acknowledge that anymore. It is not for man to pass a law that would supercede God's laws. I try to be kind to people i know are gay but know that as long as i live I will fight same sex marriage because God created marriage to be between a man and a woman and that is the only right relationship is His eyes.

Dez February 17, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Well it is a secular nation, so your god and your bible can stay out of it.

Jeni February 17, 2011 at 7:44 pm

The Bible and Christianity have also historically taught that premarital sex is immoral, as well as adultery, divorce, and remarriage after divorce. In fact, Jesus goes so far as to say that if one even looks at another person with lust, that person has committed adultery (though Jesus says nothing about homosexuality…). Shall we legislate all sexual/marital behavior then? As a Christian, I live by what Jesus says are the two greatest commandments: love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and mind and strength, and love your neighbor. I intend to fight for my neighbor's right to marry whomever they love and uphold their equality as human beings created and loved by God.

bria April 23, 2011 at 5:25 am

You know what's sad? That you think everyone, even those who are not followers of your religion, should have to follow its rules. I wonder if you follow all the rules, or if like most Christians, you simply pick and choose which part of "god's word" to abide by, according to whats most convenient.

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