Rockwell Thanksgiving
Norman Rockwell’s vision doesn’t always apply to diverse families | via Wikipedia/National Archives

Soliciting approval is futile and self-defeating. Moreover, making conscious choices eliminates self-victimization.

On Thursday, some of you will be with family for Thanksgiving. Not all family members are capable of accepting LGBTQ persons. They have a problem. Not you! Moreover, seeking their approval makes their problem your problem.

Disapproval is premised on the notion that sexuality is a choice. Disapproval can morph into shaming. Some religious extremists feel that dispensing shame is an obligation. According to doctrine, the shame is a form of love. Their excuse for bigotry is that they are attempting to influence their targets into making better choices.

We know that sexual orientation and gender identity cannot be altered by influence. That’s not to say that either construct is fixed. People do experience natural variances in sexuality. I often liken sexuality to outdoor temperature. We can measure it and it might change over time. However, there is nothing we can do to influence those changes.

Shaming can be silent. Totally ignoring people can be a means of expressing shame. Moreover, it is hurtful because we know precisely what the shamer is doing.

If we are confrontation then we are only confirming the idea that we seek, perhaps require, their approval. These folks intent on influencing our sexuality cannot be reasoned with either.

We can produce a veritable mountain of peer-reviewed research. The folks who are determined to display their disapproval will dismiss research that they do not like as either politically correct or part of some conspiracy.

“Our grandparent, parent, uncle or whomever should be willing to establish the ‘rules of engagement’ with known irritants.”

There is, however, an alternative to confronting our bullies. We can ask, in advance, if other family members will come to our defense. Doing so avoids the appearance of seeking approval. Furthermore, other family can inform Uncle Asshole that if he cannot be respectful then he should not come at all.

That expectation for respect applies to more than just a family member. It is owed to same-sex spouses and partners. It also applies to the use of gender-correct pronouns.

Is it unreasonable to ask our host to do that? Not at all. There is nothing wrong with preventing predictable unpleasantness. Doing so isn’t an abstraction either. It is based upon the individual’s history of being indecent.

Moreover, we have choices. Most of us can choose whether or not to subject ourselves to a toxic situation.

Our grandparent, parent, uncle or whomever should be willing to establish the “rules of engagement” with known irritants. If they are unwilling to set those conditions then they are tolerating disrespect over tolerance for LGBTQ family members.

“Bigotry is not an opposing point of view. There are not two sides to the acceptance of LGBTQ persons.”

All of life’s choices come down to weighing benefits against detriments associated with our decision. Attending a dinner with a dying or sick relative might outweigh the indignity of dealing with a bigot and their enablers.

Nevertheless it is our choice (“our” includes our spouses and partners). When we make a conscious choice to endure indecency we are no longer capable of being victimized. “conscious choice” is the most important part of the dynamic.

In other words:

  1. Don’t seek approval and;
  2. avoid self-victimization by making conscious and deliberate choices.

Bigotry is not an opposing point of view. There are not two sides to the acceptance of LGBTQ persons. Acceptance means that we want those persons to be happy. I wrote yesterday about the determination of some religious zealots to exploit the holidays. If nothing else it is wholly unnecessary and, frankly indecent.

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.