I've been reading with considerable interest Arthur Silber's recent posts about his his sexual identity, and I'm moved by the great suffering he and so many others have endured at the hands of of the viciously intolerant as well as the callously "tolerant".
I think Silber not quite correct when he says that straight white guys can't get it "without great effort." Speaking as a straight middle-class white guy who has indeed put in great effort, I frankly don't think I can get it at all, at least not at the experiential level.
It has thus long been my attitude that I am neither "tolerant" nor "intolerant" in this regard; rather, I take the position that others' sexuality is none of my goddamn business, except at the personal, individual level, as each individual chooses to share with me in the spirit of individual friendship. I take the same sort of attitude towards race, gender, and other ineluctable personal characteristics.
This attitude, though, is purely intellectual; I don't know what more I can do. Even as an atheist living in a Christian nation, even as a white man having lived in Southeast Asia, even as an engineer without a college degree, my experiences simply cannot correspond to any gay person's--nor any black person's, nor any woman's.
All I can do is know that everyone is indeed a human being, and deserves the same human dignity I demand for myself--whether I can "understand" them or not.