From Gleeto gay marriage, from lesbian senators to out gay Marines, we have undoubtedlyexperienced a seismic shift in attitudes about gays in American politics andculture. Our reigning national story isthat a new era of rainbow acceptance is at hand. But dig a bit deeper, and thisseemingly brave new gay world is disappointing. For all of the undeniable changes,the plea for tolerance has sabotaged the full integration of gays into Americanlife. Same-sex marriage is unrecognized and unpopular in the vast majority ofstates, hate crimes proliferate, and even in the much vaunted "e;gay friendly"e;world of Hollywood and celebrity culture, precious few stars are openly gay. In TheTolerance Trap, Suzanna Walterstakes on received wisdom about gay identities and gay rights, arguing that weare not "e;almost there,"e; but on thecontrary have settled for a watered-down goal of tolerance and acceptancerather than a robust claim to full civil rights. After all, we tolerate unpleasant realities: medicinewith strong side effects, a long commute, an annoying relative. Drawing on avast array of sources and sharing her own personal journey, Walters shows howthe low bar of tolerance demeans rather than ennobles both gays and straightsalike. Her fascinating examination covers the gains in political inclusion andthe persistence of anti-gay laws, the easy-out sexual freedom of queer youthand the suicides and murders of those in decidedly intolerant environments. Shechallenges both "e;born that way"e; storylines that root civil rights in biology,and "e;god made me that way"e; arguments that similarly situate sexuality as innateand impervious to decisions we make to shape it. A sharp and provocative cultural critique, thisbook deftly argues that a too-soon declaration of victory short-circuits fullequality and deprives us all of the transformative possibilities of fullintegration. Tolerance is not the endgoal, but a dead end. In The ToleranceTrap, Walters presents a complicated snapshot of a world-shifting moment inAmerican history-one that is both a wake-up call and a call to arms for anyoneseeking true equality.
How God, Genes, and Good Intentions are Sabotaging Gay Equality