(CNN) -- There was a time when gays and lesbians had to hide their identities to occupy important jobs and positions in their community, but many are now open about their sexuality despite fears of discrimination.
CNN.com asked readers if it would matter to them if someone in their immediate community -- a neighbor, boss, pastor, mayor, doctor or child's teacher -- was gay or lesbian. Here is a selection of e-mails, some of which have been edited for length and clarity.
Julie Holmes from Denver, Colorado
I certainly hope that gay, lesbian and transgendered Americans are finding more acceptance in our communities. I am heterosexual, married for 12 years and have two children, a boy, 9, and a girl, 10. It wouldn't matter to me if either of my children is gay. Nor would it concern me if anyone else happened to be gay, lesbian or transgendered, including my pastor, boss, mayor, doctor or my children's' teachers or instructors. I believe every human is created in the image of God, and that individuals are born with their sexual orientations.
Being from Colorado, the recent scandal involving Pastor Ted Haggard was of course a big story locally -- as I know it was nationally -- and while Mr. Haggard's public exposure was for some merely a glorious example of Schadenfreude, I myself came away from that story feeling profoundly sad for Mr. Haggard in that I found it unfortunate he felt driven to engage in unquestionable extremes to hide and deny his apparent homosexuality (or bisexuality, as it may be). I teach my children that there are many different ways to demonstrate love, devotion, loyalty and family. I believe all humans -- gay, straight, or anything in between -- bring something positive to the collective table.
Brian Guse from Silver Spring, Maryland
As an openly gay man, I find this I-Report topic to be insulting and offensive. Imagine if you posed the same questions but instead of asking about gays, you asked people if they were comfortable with blacks, Jews, Latinos, journalists, Catholics or whites living next door to them.
Robert Wise from Jefferson City, Missouri
I don't have a problem with having a gay neighbor, boss, pastor, mayor or doctor. I don't have children, but I wouldn't have a problem with a gay schoolteacher. As long as they do their job and do it well I think it is no one's business. I have had gay neighbors, a gay boss, a gay pastor and a gay doctor in the past. What two consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedroom/home is their business. Morality cannot be legislated; it has failed every time it has been tried.
G.B. from Houston, Texas
I've accepted gays in the workplace, boss or co-worker. A gay neighbor would make me somewhat nervous, but I could probably get used to it. A gay pastor is out of the question. God does not approve of a gay lifestyle. God loves gays but does not condone gays acting on their weakness anymore than an alcoholic or someone with a similar weakness. I would not like a gay teacher for my children.
Dian Le from Sacramento, California
I believe that right now is a time of confusion for many. People are realizing that a person's sexual preference is not an acceptable way to judge his or her performance in the workplace. But while someone may accept homosexuality themselves, they may still make decisions based upon what they think society's stance is. For example, a manager might want to hire "Person A" who happens to be gay. "Person A" is well qualified and trained to complete the task. But, the manager will think about what the customers will think about this new employee. Will they not buy products because the employee is gay? Will having a homosexual on the staff affect the company in any bad way? From the manager's point of view, it would just be easier and safer to hire the next person down the list who is not as qualified, but is straight.
Tara Egresits from Pacific Grove, California
The sexual orientation of a person makes no difference to me regardless of their position in the community or proximity to my home. As a mother of 5-year-old twin boys I would be just as happy with a gay kindergarten teacher as I would a straight one, provided they were in fact a good teacher. The quality of the person is what matters. I wish the rest of the world could get that.
Tammy Lynn Kitchen from Frederick, Maryland
No, because I do not have to face the heavenly father one day for their sins. As long as gays do not force their beliefs on me then I do not have a problem with them. When I started working again back in 1994, my boss was gay. He is a great person and always treated me fairly and I was respectful to him back. I still am a close friend of his to this very day. I get along well with him. He is a great person and fun to be around.
Amy Birken from Hughesville, Maryland
Personally it wouldn't matter to me if my boss, doctor or child's teacher were gay. I have worked with many gay people and it is not an issue, as long as they are not hitting on me I'm not bothered by it and, honestly, I don't recall ever seeing a gay person going out of their way to "recruit" a straight person, so I just don't see the big deal.
In the same breath, while I don't have a problem with gay people I don't believe they should be allowed to have a legal marriage like a straight couple. Let them adopt children if they'd like, have health insurance together, things like that, but I am old fashioned in some ways and I just feel the institution of marriage should be left as it is. As much as I don't mind them and believe they should be treated with respect and dignity, I feel there are religious values that should be upheld such as marriage and not having a gay pastor.