Note: This is a piece from the archives of my own blog, The New Civil Rights Movement.
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.