Vasquez: Is this the gateway?

Sonora Vasquez

Free Lance columnist Sonora Vasquez opens up about the possible implications from Ireland’s historic vote on same-sex marriage. Vasquez asks the question: Is this the gateway?
An inspiring display of progress was demonstrated when the citizens of Ireland voted through a general election to legalize same-sex marriage. At last count, the Yes Campaign (which spearheaded the initiative) triumphed by over 60percent. Seemingly more remarkable is that the popular vote comes from a predominately Catholic, traditional and conservative republic, at least from this American’s perspective.
Over half of the states in the U.S. recognize same-sex marriage and several other countries, similar to Ireland, have made their marriage laws inclusive for all couples (though not through referendums). Are western societies becoming more tolerant? Is this social revolution the gateway for future tolerance and acceptance?
My father told me the news before I was able to jump online to read about it firsthand. Once I did, the following words by David Norris, independent senator and gay rights activist, resonated with me: “The message from this small independent republic to the entire world is one of dignity, and freedom and tolerance.” How beautiful. How true.
This event is significant for so many reasons but the most important [for me] is the shift in culture and social norms that this movement will ignite. 
My son and I have been getting pedicures together since he was three; he would sit on my lap and stick his little feet in the water. Every so often we’d get a really awesome pedicurist who would offer to trim his nails and massage his feet too. As he grew older he became too big to sit on my lap so it logically followed that I would request a “pedicure for two, please.”
About two years ago he asked for color on his toenails. He looked around embarrassed and asked … “Will people make fun of me?” My response, “Yes some people may but if you like colored toenails then it doesn’t matter what anybody else says.” After which, I pushed for dark blue or in my mind something more masculine. He opted for bright blue with sparkles. I vowed that day to never talk him out of a color of his choosing again.
My son likes to paint his toes bright pink and purple; he also likes to wear dresses and dance around the house singing in a high-pitch vibrato. He chooses not to go outside when he’s dressed as such because he’s afraid of what people will say. When he mustered up the courage to wear his favorite pink earmuffs in public I was asked, “Aren’t you concerned about what people will think?” My concern is not what they will think but what they might say or do.
Those that are perceived as different are often ridiculed and ostracized. These disheartening attitudes are damaging to developing personalities and can cause irreparable harm.
The Yes Campaign validated same-sex unions and with the same sweeping motion addressed inaccurate (pink-versus-blue) social generalizations as well. This is the changing agent.
Human beings should have the freedom to be whomever they choose to be, love whomever they choose to love, and dress however they so choose.
I don’t know how diversity will alter the world or what the future holds for my high-pitched vibrato for that matter. I trust (with Ireland’s gateway) that soon enough tolerance will be the social norm, the commonplace for humanity and not merely the exception.

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