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Respect is a two way street

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I was shopping in Essex and once again was forced to remind myself to be more tolerant of stupid people.

I do this on a fairly frequent basis as, let’s be honest, there are a lot of morons out there. ‘They’re just like “normal” people but with smaller brains,’ I’ll tell myself. ‘It’s not their fault they can’t speak properly/ drive safely/ work a remote control/ count to ten/ use a till/ spell correctly.’ And just as I was taking a deep breath, counting to ten (because I can) and reminding myself that everyone deserves my respect, some sharp-elbowed old biddy pushed her way past me and let a door slam in my face.

Stupidity is at least excusable, but I can’t stand rudeness. I sarcastically muttered, ‘Don’t mind me then,’ (yes, I’m one of THOSE people) and she gave me stink-eye through her bi-focals and snapped, ‘Fuck off Dorothy, I’m old.’

Now don’t get me wrong, I think older people are awesome. They’ve fought all sorts of battles; personal, mental, and in many cases literal, they’ve had one hell of a lot more life experience than you or I, and more than likely discovered that sexual position you enjoy so much about six decades before you did. But this one bad egg was the type that gave all old people a bad name, and I was forced to tell the craggy-faced old bint that I was surprised she’d lived as long as she had with that attitude.

Age is no excuse for rudeness or disrespect, and nor is your intelligence, ignorance, race, gender, religion or sexuality, yet there seems to be more about now than ever before and it is often because of that one bad egg. Preconceptions are ingrained in our psyche. Gays are ridiculed, old people are ignored, foreigners are distrusted, fat people are lazy, teenagers are all thugs, and women always leave the toilet seat DOWN and blame us blokes for leaving it up. Shameful.

It used to be that we just ridiculed the egg heads, thickos, immigrants, God-bothers and poofs in the playground, but now people that should know better are doing it on the streets, in the newspapers, on social media, and it is only enflamed and encouraged by the media. Watch the headlines, and you’d be forgiven for thinking all religious people are hate-filled homophobes, all asylum seekers are benefit cheats, all politicians are greedy perverts, and us Gays are into all sorts of kinky shit whilst having amazing teeth and a high disposable income.   

My neighbour is gay and Christian and gets all sorts of abuse. But not from the religious like you might assume, rather from our own community. We have learnt to distrust those with faith simply because of that vocal minority of homophobes in the news and on social media, most of whom aren’t even in our country. You’d think us Gays would have learnt to be a bit more inclusive of each other, what with all the battles we’ve had to face to get where we are, but we’re hugely suspicious of fellow gays that don’t fit into our usual comfortable boxes, and that includes the gay elderly, disabled and those with faith. You’ve got to respect every shade of the rainbow, bitches. 

But there is hope for our distrusting and cynical souls, and that is down to the media too. The more they insist on pouring over everyone’s differences the more visible and ‘normal’ they become, and because of this our youngest generation are growing up to be far more accepting and respectful than ours will ever be. I went to see my niece’s end of year play at her Junior School last month with my boyfriend, and we were pointed at, whispered about, and either ignored or looked at with disgust. And this was all from the parents. There was no holding hands, no PDAs or physical contact of any kind, we were just two guys with awesome fashion-sense sitting together, and it proved to be quite upsetting for us until we heard a nine year old girl say, “Oh don’t be silly mum, it is just two men in love.” That told her.

So I guess what I am trying to say in a roundabout way is that respect is a two way street, people. Maybe we all need to try a little harder to give it out in order to get it back.

And in those cases that we don’t, fuck ’em.

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