Just a few days ago it was national coming out day; this is a day where people can either come out or celebrate the day they came out whether that be to friends or family. It’s a recognition of a celebration in our land of equal opportunity, where sexual orientation being a cause for discrimination is a notion which is ebbing away far quicker than the coastline. Such glorious realities like these are always pleasantly welcome; as a society we have made herculean progress towards LGBT equality not just in legislation but also in social attitudes.
Days or even months to celebrate minority successes are becoming ever increasingly common, this is a symbol not just of growing tolerance or acceptance but of ever growing confidence within minority communities. Being not just tolerated but accepted and loved is a step which every society must take if it wants to fulfill its potential. The difference between tolerating and accepting is one which cannot be under-estimated; toleration is the equivalent of holding your nose while you pass by while acceptance is giving someone a great big hug. We all know which one we would prefer, and which one it takes for society to be a cohesive whole.
However there are those (and I am among them) that passionately believe projects like national coming out day and black history month are a sign that we haven’t quite made it yet. Why should there be a national coming out day? Why should people have to come out at all? Why is there black history month when the contributions of black people to our shared history is something which cannot be underestimated, to quote Morgan Freeman “why is there a black history month, black history is American history” Morgan Freeman points out an uncomfortable question which should vex campaigners of all stripes, while representing the other should promotion just mean acceptance or something much deeper?
Maybe it isn’t a sign of our society but equality campaigners misreading the times and societies in which we live; keeping a conservative form of campaigning which maintains its emphasis on the fight rather than the victory could halt the social progress of the last 20 years. If progressives want to continue the march of change it’s time to move beyond acceptance into normalising differences. Acceptance means coming out and being loved; normalising same sex relations means no coming out day is necessary. Acceptance allows us to live our lives without fear that bigotry will spring up for who we are; normalising allows us not to take notice of our differences at all but rejoice in our shared humanity. It’s time to embrace the normal and move on from sheer acceptance.