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Tolerance Is Not Acceptance This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     My first crush was the pink Power Ranger, a brunette at least ten years older than eight-year-old me. My eyes lit up as soon as she hit the screen. My current crush is Angelina Jolie, with Eliza Dushku a close second. They’re both brunettes and both at least ten years older than 15-year-old me. I guess I haven’t changed much, huh? I always thought I was normal. I mean, I didn’t understand that what I felt for other females were intimate feelings. Now, of course, I do.

I also understand that there are fears and prejudices in this world that aren’t going to change. The prejudices might disappear from some, but it never goes away completely. It simply shifts to a new place, because people need something to hate, and I think, something to fear.

Lately, homosexuality seems to be the main focus of prejudice, from the same-sex marriage controversy to the guy who stands on the street corner holding a sign that says, “Homosexuals: Your life is a choice and you’re choosing to burn in Hell.” Of course, my view could be biased. People tend to see more of what they don’t want when they’re focused on it. The amount of homophobia doesn’t change; I just see and feel it more because it affects me, and because, frankly, it hurts me.

All that aside, I’m not defined by my lesbianism. I don’t mind waving the rainbow flag when it’s appropriate, but a lesbian is not all I am. I’m a high-school student with a 4.0 GPA. I’m a daughter, a big sister, a little sister, and an aspiring writer. I would say beyond anything, my aspirations as an author define me most of all.

In all my writing, I still have not described the most complicated character: me. Though the characters I create are complicated, they aren’t completely human, and if I were a perfect writer, my characters would be as multi-faceted as real people. Or, perhaps, they’re less complicated because I make them that way.

What scares people about homosexuality? I’m not sure. You could ask someone from the past what scared them about an African American and I don’t believe they could truly say. I just know that their fear creates hardships not only for themselves, but for those they fear. I’ve felt the sting of homophobia by reading about people like Matthew Shepard in the news, and hearing how violently fear can manifest itself.

What’s worse than homophobia? Sometimes it’s tolerance. People can tolerate your presence, but not accept you. They’ll let you be in the same room with them without making racist or insulting slurs, but that doesn’t mean they won’t glare, or look down on you. It hurts when people hate you for being you, for something you can’t change. Some will never accept me for who I am, and though it hurts, it’s a fact of life.

The only way to stop hurting is to accept it. Love them even though they hate you. Though I’m not a prime example of this, it’s a morally correct goal people should strive for.

Fear and hate will never cease, but we can control how we deal with it. How do I fight against the negativity I feel and the hateful words spoken about me and others? I keep being true to myself. I display my fondness for Angelina Jolie and Eliza Dushku. I hold my girlfriend’s hand even if people stare. Acceptance can only come from exposure and who better to show people who I am than myself?

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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plebeian_dreamer This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 11, 2013 at 10:25 pm:
This is such a good article! I agree with you--we should love people and accept them no matter what. I know a lot of homophobics and even though it doesn't affect me personally, I still cringe when their words come out of their mouths.
 
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AisuP said...
Jan. 29, 2013 at 8:38 pm:
Your point not only applies to biases regarding race and sexuality, but many other minorities as well, from things as serious as other religions as well as small things like taste in music (which really doesn't matter once you're out of high school, but while we're still here, it's like it's the biggest part of our judgement and lives). Just because someone doesn't tell you to sit in the back of the bus doesn't mean that they can accept you and treat you like an equal... (more »)
 
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TheLegacyLives said...
Sept. 19, 2010 at 9:02 pm:

I also have a crush on Angelina Jolie. Ha.

I really like this piece, very true, hits a personal spot for me. Teen Ink deals with a lot of issues but not very often that of LGBT. Thank you for writing this.

 
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