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The word acceptance means different things in different contexts. To be accepted has often meant simply to “fit in” or be just similar enough to be included in a given group or community. But, that definition of acceptance can be too narrow to fully encompass the multiple ways in which a human seeks to belong. Acceptance is not just about others; it also relates to the self. The agreement with oneself to appreciate and support the self as it is dominates our society’s attention today. Likewise, tolerance is no longer an adequate synonym, as many now expect diversity to be embraced instead of just allowed.
What society looks to accept is also complex. The world is starting to categorize along continuums -- simple “I am this not that” no longer suffice. Whether it is one’s gender, sexual preferences or desired relationship dynamics, people want to be seen and accepted for the nuance that they live through their everyday lives.
Segments of society demand that the rest let them celebrate those aspects of their lifestyles and lives that used to be secret. These calls for openness create moments for discourse but also disagreement and debate. Whether these conflicts will eventually bring people closer together remains to be seen; but, along the way the conversations must be heard and shared among those willing to listen.