You want to gain respect and understanding? How can we ask from others what we can't do ourselves?
You'll not gain them by asking for them. That is not the way they are earned, they cannot be pleaded for. If you asked them to do that they'll probably tell you what to do so they can respect you, and I'm almost positive what they'll ask will be contrary to your own convictions.The thing you need to do is to find out what is that you want to do and persist in doing it.
When people disapprove of someone's way of living generally they do so because they take at as a critique to their way of doing things, so you must show them that just because you do things differently doesn't mean you judge them or you don't respect them. Best advice I can give you is that things change with time and generally people become more accepting of others differences, so only thing you should do is be persistent in doing what you want and believe is right for you, a quote comes to mind that you might find useful:"selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live". Yup, that's all I've got, hope it was helpful