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In the wake of the Orlando shooting, it’s time to delete the word tolerate and its forms (tolerance, tolerant, tolerating) from our vocabularies when referring to the LGBTQ community. We should insert the word accept in its stead.

The word tolerate most likely became popular in the sixteenth century in England. It came from Old French, which borrowed it from Latin. Five hundred years later, use of the word in America is at its height: to “tolerate” the LGBTQ community. Those who are beamed across satellites to the world, including President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Chris Cuomo, Jimmy Fallon, and other politicians, reporters, and celebrities, inject this word into their speeches and commentaries when referring to the LGBTQ community. Nonpublic figures also speak the word.

Many who use the term and its conjugations when referring to the LGBTQ community are good intentioned, are trying to be politically correct, and perhaps are hoping to persuade naysayers. While I appreciate how inserting this term into our nation’s colloquy by the national media, elected officials, and the public at large has partially contributed to launching the LGBTQ community to heights as great as the moon, I’ve been offended by its use.

The LGBTQ community has fought hard to gain the identical rights as its heterosexual counterparts to obtain equal job security, to be protected from hate crimes, to have the same access to medical care, and to be married. In order to get people involved, the word tolerance was introduced into the conversation. This compromise appears to have worked on some level. While the LGBTQ community is far from having the same rights as our heterosexual brethren, we are closer.

According to Merriam-Webster.com the definition of tolerance includes: (1) capacity to endure pain or hardship: fortitude, stamina, (2)(a) sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own, and (2)(b) the act of allowing something. One of the definitions of tolerate is “to put up with”.

This is where I take offense. I do not want to be endured. I do not wish anyone to have to gather fortitude or stamina to put up with meSympathy, forget it, I do not want any. And please, don’t allow me to be who I was born to be.

I wish to be accepted, as I accept you.

To those who run our country, who entertain us, who write about social issues that reach national and international audiences, and who bring us the news, please eliminate use of the word tolerate from your speeches, your monologues, your reports, your articles, and your posts.

To those like me who are not public figures, our voices matter. I implore upon you to cease using that word in your Facebook posts, in your tweets, in your classrooms, with your family and friends, and to your children when you talk about the LGBTQ community.

Delete tolerate, tolerance, tolerant, tolerating.

Insert accept, acceptance, acceptable, accepting.

Over time, this minor change can make a major difference in the conversation of our country, and indeed, in the conversation of the world.

The LGBTQ community has landed on the moon in terms of rights gained. However, we have not traveled far enough. As long as we are merely tolerated, we will be hated. We deserve more, we must demand more, and we need everybody’s help.

After all, to accept is to accept is to accept is to accept.

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