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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

With Acceptance Comes Ordinariness

With the rather anti-climatic "coming out" of Apple CEO Tim Cook, we are yet again faced with a problem lurking around the corner. Cook's coming out, anti-climactic because he was accidentally outed on a television news program recently, was characterized as "brave" and "courageous."

Really? Bravery and courage require the possibility of loss, and Apple is one of the most gay-friendly companies in the world. There was little danger that Tim Cook would lose his job for coming out. Cook said he knew what it was to be persecuted, a comment that may or may not be true given his professional and financial success. I'd suggest persecution is in the eyes of the beholder, but a white male who rises to the top of one of the largest companies in the tech world has no idea of the level of persecution experienced by a person of color living in an urban neighborhood or even of a poor white person living in the hood. Add to it the fact that as more and more gay and lesbian people come out, coming out becomes less dangerous and less unusual, particularly for the wealthy.

Here's a shocking truth - as marginalized groups move closer and closer to achieving their goal of full acceptance in our society, they will have to surrender their special status. The day will come before too long that announcing you are gay will garner the same reaction that my announcing I am straight gets. That reaction is a big yawn and a request to move on.

Marginalized groups tend to gather around and celebrate the reason for their marginalization. It's a good and normal reaction to an unfair and evil situation. Once the marginalization ends, and I am not saying it's over yet in the gay and lesbian community but I do believe the day is very close, that reason for celebration and the claim of special status that go with it will be gone. With acceptance comes the perhaps unpleasant reality that you are part of the norm. I wonder how many people who make their living as gay and lesbian advocates are really prepared for that day.

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