Belief Systems and Perceived Identities are Well Established:
Most people base their identity on how they believe that other people perceive them. Through constant comparison to others, and evaluation of how well we are meeting their expectations, a false image of self is created by the mind.
At present, certain religious groups seek to prevent gays from legally getting married, openly serving in the military, and from joining their religious groups. Their polar opposites are homosexuals who base their identity on how certain other members of society view them, and thus feel that they are unequal.
Many religious people fear homosexuality because they identify themselves with interpretations of the bible which teach that homosexuality is sinful. When gays openly express themselves through a perspective that defies others perception of “normal”, this threatens their belief system – which is a healthy and natural catalyst for change.
However, gays commonly use organized protest in attempt to control how these religious groups view them. Through protest, they endeavor to force their “opponents” to change religious or moral beliefs and stop opposing gay rights; or they look to media to expose how “their people” are being victimized by certain religious groups, and hope that society will put pressure on those groups to accept homosexuality.
Instead, protest is perceived by followers of the subject religious belief systems as a direct attack on their morals and principles, which serves to reinforce their resolve to discredit the homosexual lifestyle; and this in turn creates more perceptions of inequality. As a result the “us against them” mentality is strengthened on both sides, the battle against one another in the desperate pursuit of acceptance and righteousness is intensified; and the polarity between the two groups is magnified.
Effectuating Change through Peace:
Although through protest we may force certain laws or policies to be changed, acceptance of others cannot be forced or even taught – it is simply known at the core of every being. Thus, the way to effectuate real change is to demonstrate equality through our own actions.
As a start, we can recognize that some people are are simply not yet able to appreciate that we are all equal – and we can accept those who are theologically opposed to a gay lifestyle.
As more people offer independent thoughts, feelings and actions which express their equality, others will continue evolving to accept and appreciate them. Specifically, when people know and respect you as a school teacher, a baseball player, a fireman, a policeman, a dancer, a coach, etc. who happens to be gay; each of your relationships, whether close or casual, promotes acceptance by and of all people.
However, when we are consumed with our statuses, it creates a false sense of separation from others who either do not hold our same status, or who hold beliefs that oppose our status. Then we stand back and criticize others because they make us feel uncomfortable for being who we are.
Holding a one-dimensional view of self creates fear of stepping outside of our comfort zone and associating with people on different levels of awareness, or with people who hold opposite viewpoints. In this way, many gays live their lives identifying with others’ ideas that they are inferior; and acceptance as equals cannot come from this point of view.
When we know who we are, we can easily love ourselves and everyone else – then we do not require the approval of others to express our true selves. From that vantage point we are powerful creators of change simply by being in the world and enjoying our time here.
In this way, we are able to savor every ounce of pleasure we can squeeze out of life, while simultaneously raising awareness that people with different lifestyles are deserving of acceptance and equality.