Two fridays ago was the national day of silence, a day when students across the country take a vow of silence to raise awareness for anti-LGTBQ bullying in schools. A straight all, I spent the day in a black shirt, a black cardigan, a black uniform skirt, and various rainbow accessories: socks, bracelets, and a rainbow ribbon pin. The reason my wardrobe is relevant is the variance in reaction people had to it.
Mr. Seal, a usually kind freshman history teacher who has been known for his homophobia ignored me when I waved on several occasions, and I got looks from a lot of students I tried to hand rainbow ribbons. People who are usually decent.
Although it's likely that a racist might also be a homophobe, most homophobes at my school aren't racists, xenophobes, or any other commonly rejected form of intolerant bastard. On fact, some of them are those nice kids. The ones who help you up in the hallway if you drop your books, or hold the door for kids with crutches. They're not Neo- Nazis or Klan members; they're normal, nice people. And yet they have a latent intolerance for gays.
Just by mere percentages, we can see that more Americans support the civil rights acts passed in the '60s than support the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Because of the weird off-beat mentions of "a man laying with another man" in Leviticus, a lot of Christians who are ordinarily great people get weird at the mention of the word "gay". People who are tolerant of all the other 7 differences named the "big 8" (age, ability, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and socio-economic status) and "little 4" (appearance, geography, family structure, and life-changing events) have trouble accepting GLTBQs. The line of intolerance moves from the right-wing fringe 15% to a whopping 40-60% (depending on what polls you're looking at).
I wish I could do something about this. I wish I could shake these accepting people out of their narrow-minded stupor, but I can't. And I can't categorize them all as jerks, douches, or bigots. Many of them are quite the opposite. There's no black and white here. Some people are so damn grey.