Does acceptance lead backwards to segregation?


By David Decoteau

At an organizational meeting last night, a member took the floor and presented a question to the group.  He said, "I was told by a third party, that there is a gay person that would like to join our group.  This person wants to know if we would accept his application?"  This is a social group of friends, so after some initial ribbing and jokes, serious discussion began.

Within just a few minutes it was decided that the group is very diverse already, so what would be the problem?  The group already has many religions, ethnicities, ages and interest: why would an open homosexual be any kind of problem?  Discussion was opened on the motion to make this person an offer of inclusion.

At that point, an older member of the organization raised his hand to ask a question.  Once recognized, the gentleman said, "Back in my day, a person just applied for membership.  You didn't lead with, "I'm gay: can I be a member".  You just found a group that interested you, and you joined.  Later, other people in the group might determine your sexuality, but by that point, it didn't matter.  You already knew this person: who they found attractive, was of little consequence."  

He went on, "So my question is, why would a potential new member lead off his introduction by first labelling himself as "gay" and then making that one part of his overall personality become his identity?  I mean, when I applied for membership, I could have said, "Hey, I know how to weld, is it OK if I join?"  Like that would have mattered to the other members."

The membership considered the older members question, and a reply came from the member that brought the proposal to the floor.  He said, "You make a good point, but I think the reason we are being asked this way is because it's unusual for a gay person to join a group that isn't known for being specifically geared towards LGBTQA membership.  There are so many organizations that make gay topics some of their central tenets, that it's rare for people who identify in this way, to join groups that do not specifically mention sexuality in their organizational identities."

At this point, the older gentleman spoke again.  He said, "I just find it odd that it's a question at all.  This organization has had many gay members over the years.  I've personally been friends with most of them.  They were just members like the rest of us.  I'd like to think we all learned from each other by being part of the same organizations.  Are you telling me, that today, these people isolate themselves into groups that only identify sexually, in the same way they do?  And if so, isn't that a step backward, instead of forward?  We don't all get to learn from each other anymore?  Every potential friendship is based first on sexuality, and all other factors take a back seat?  Seems like a wasted opportunity to me."

The general membership then talked a little more on the subject.  They passed the motion to offer an opportunity for membership to this individual.  Obviously, nothing was solved on a larger scale.  Two paths to acceptance were considered that night.  The younger guys probably didn't give it another thought after the gavel tapped.  The older member went home and wrote this article.  

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