What Is The Acceptance Revolution?
Primarily aimed at promoting LGBTQIA acceptance and equality and raising awareness of and erasing stigma associated with mental illness, the acceptance revolution is a movement of the simple yet powerful practice of unconditional acceptance and an online safe space to share stories of personal experiences with acceptance (or lack thereof). However, these stories are not limited to, nor do they end with LGBTQIA or mental health communities.
Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, and however the lack or loss of feeling accepted and having somewhere to belong may have manifested in your life, the accompanying pain is real, and it matters, and this space is one where we can find community through comfort in our overlaps, establishing common ground with those who may, on the surface, seem so vastly different from us…. because where our respective experiences may be as dissimilar as night and day, the general, underlying feelings are the same. And, by this token, the acceptance revolution is for everyone, an all-inclusive community that opens its arms to anyone who’s ever felt they didn’t fit in for any reason and says: “Here is where you fit. Here is your place to belong. Be you, and be at home.”
There are several definitions of the word “revolution,” my personal favorite, and the most relevant for the purposes of this movement being “a drastic and far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving.”
The acceptance revolution is a movement of the simple yet powerful practice of unconditional acceptance, defined by Barbara L. Irwin, PhD, RN in January 1997 as “using empathy to fully accept a person as worthy with no strings attached.” In the words of singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco, “I know there is strength in the differences between us, and I know there is comfort where we overlap,” and this is a beautifully true and profound expression of what this is all about. Simply put, we are all alike in some ways and different in other ways, and the similarities that exist among people as holistic beings – or the “overlap” – is known as holism, which Irwin describes as “the belief that people are more than the sum of their parts; that body, mind, emotion and spirit function as one unit, affecting and controlling the parts in dynamic interaction with one another.” And this overlap is where the power of a revolution of acceptance really lies.
Acceptance has always been of paramount importance to LGBTQIA individuals, and while so many strides towards achieving this have been made over the past several decades, most would agree that there is still a ways to go. However, the piece of this puzzle that many members of the LGBTQIA community don’t seem to take into consideration is that, in many ways, there is a pronounced lack of unconditional acceptance and holism within our own community. From snide comments about those damn “greedy” bisexuals who “should just pick one already” to transmen who experience a loss of community after their transition, either because of backlash from those who view them as conforming to patriarchal standards or simply because of the whole “OMG, what is that boy doing in the lesbian bar?” scenario, and countless stories in between, people sometimes seem to forget that we are ALL part of this same community working and striving towards the same goals. So purely and simply, the acceptance revolution is a reminder of that, raising the awareness that as Ghandi famously said, we must truly “be the change [we] wish to see,” and that acceptance as a community in the larger sense begins with us and our acceptance of one another… right where we are.