But He's a Republican
Last weekend, I went out in Boston with the boys to explore the huge city I recently adopted as my new home. Excited to meet some new friends, I surveyed the sprawling crowd populating the prototypical gay bar and before long a rather attractive twenty-something (Let's call him Blake.) caught my eye. But when I eagerly pointed him out to my best friend, he simply rolled his eyes and callously uttered the three worst words to describe a gay man, “He’s a Republican.”
Goodbye, Blake; hello, Jack Daniel's.
Later that night, I came to a peculiar realization. These days, it’s harder for gays to come out as conservative than it is for conservatives to come out as gay. For a community that values diversity, tolerance, and acceptance, we are far too quick to judge the conservatives among us.
It’s easy to do. Take, for example, the gay community’s reaction during the most recent Ann Coulter debacle. When Coulter recently sent out the characteristically abrasive tweet, “Last Thursday was national 'coming out' day. This Monday is national 'disown your son' day,” the LGBT community was quick to react. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), issued a strong statement about the importance of National Coming Out Day and the tragedy of LGBT youth homelessness and all seemed to be right in the gay world once again. But then came the republigays. Chris Barron (the co-founder of GOProud) was one of the few to defend Coulter’s statements against the backlash. He called her “a strong ally of gay conservatives” and GLAAD’s statements “laughable.” The gay community was furious and the online replies to Barron’s defense of Coulter were harsh. Comments such as, “we finally found someone [less intelligent] than Ann Coulter,” and “If [these people] are actually gay, I say we disown them,” were plentiful.
Whether Coulter’s tweet was offensive (It was), Chris Barron’s political allegiances are off (I think they are), or I’m just trying to broaden my dating pool (So what if I am?), we in the gay community have to readjust the way we treat gay conservatives.
Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not a conservative, but I don’t think we should demonize people for their political views – even when we vehemently disagree with them.
Our movement was founded on more than feather boas and Long Islands during extravagant parades in June. We’re supposed to be about acceptance. Our self-professed values are those of tolerance and dignity. Accordingly, we must at least give our conservative friends, including the gay ones, a bit of tolerance. We call them self-loathing instead of accepting the fact that their sexual orientation doesn’t dictate all of their politics. Instead of listening to their opinions on fiscal policy, we write them off as traitors. Some of us have been marginalized our entire lives, it’s not that hard to imagine how our gay Republican friends must feel.
I brought this idea up with the same friend who ruined my potential date with Blake. “They support politicians who actively deny our rights!” he dutifully reminded me. Unfortunately, that’s often true. I wish it weren’t the case, but many conservatives in our community do support candidates who, for one reason or another, are not in support of and sometimes even campaign against gay rights. However, I feel the best way to change this is not to expel our own or vilify our representatives in the conservative movement, but to embrace them.
Beyond this notion of what’s right or wrong, there is an important strategic reason to accept our conservative counterparts. Though it’s taking some time, Republicans are in fact realizing a few things about gay rights. Their ideas about it are evolving. It’s inevitable. Republigays are our sequined spies for justice.
So, while slightly bitter that I forfeited my chance with Blake, I’ve learned from my mistake and I’m hopeful we as a community can learn to love our minority-within-a-minority.
As it’s been said: there are fifty shades of gay, and they can all fit somewhere in our rainbow.