Wednesday Word of the Week, November 16: Acceptance

16 Nov

Young Mayor Accepted as Hometown Hero

This week’s word is ACCEPTANCE

general agreement that something is true, reasonable, or cannot be changed; the fact of allowing someone to become part of a group or community and making them feel welcome — Macmillan Dictionary Online

As we noted on TSM last week, a large number of LGBT candidates were elected to public office on November 8. One Massachusetts winner has received national press. What is interesting is what has and has not been integral to much of that attention.

Alex Morse, 22, will be the youngest mayor in America when he takes office. CBS News devoted a two-and-a-half minute segment to his election. They naturally focused on his youth and the fact that he ousted an incumbent despite his lack of experience. What didn’t come up at all in the interview was the fact that Morse is openly gay.

That may be due in part to it never being an issue during the campaign. Morse is comfortably out and certainly did nothing to hide from the electorate. His public accomplishments include founding a GSA at his high school and working for a number of LGBT causes. Somehow, these accomplishments were simply accepted as part of his qualifications. Delightfully, his opponent did nothing to demonize him because of his sexual orientation.

As the New Civil Rights points out, however, Massachusetts is not Mississippi. One successful candidate whose sexual orientation is a non-issue is not a national trend. Still, it is promising to see that this is possible. Let us hope that unlike CBS, the mayor-elect will not be reticent about acknowledging his orientation. Hooray for Holyoke, but LGBT Americans everywhere need to see what’s possible.

Broader acceptance is only possible when accomplishments like Morse’s are made widely known. Visibility leads to acceptance; let’s not allow one moment of acceptance to lead to invisibility.

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