In Defense of Gay Conservatives

greyboi's picture

Every time I enter a discussion on gay political issues, I find that the issue of gay conservatives is bound to come up. I also find that many liberal gay people have a hard time accepting and understanding the fact that there are many people who share their sexual orientation and differ drastically from them in terms of their political ideology.

"Gay Republicans?" someone said, "I find it interesting that a gay person would support a political party that once used the demonization of homosexuals as its central recruiting theme. It's just another silly contradiction. I find their existence very unlikely. Even if they do exist, it's quite pitiful. They're probably just a confused bunch."

"Why must every gay person be a Democrat, like you?" I asked. "You don't really expect everyone to bandwagon and nose-dive into a lockstep mode of conformity, do you?"

"No. Still, how can one be gay and support a political party that's anti-gay?" he insisted.

"Do you base your every political decision in terms of how it coincides with your sexual orientation?" I replied.

One cannot be both gay and conservative? It's like how I once remember being told by someone that you couldn't be both gay and Christian, that the two were just incongruous.

"The gay lifestyle and the Christian faith simply don't compute," she said. "You must pick one over the other."

First, one erroneous assumption that constantly gets made is that my being gay is a "lifestyle". This assumes that there is a monolithic concept of the gay individual. Gay people come in countless varieties, just like heterosexual people do. We have different tastes, opinions, and feelings. We come in all races, classes, and social-economic backgrounds. Many of us are religious and were brought up in faith-filled homes. This idea of there being only one kind of gay person is as absurd as the idea of there being only one kind of straight person.

Another flawed presupposition that comes with the use of words like "lifestyle" is this idea that all gay people share the same ideology. There is no all-encompassing way of thought that all gay people share. We vote both Democrat and Republican. I, myself, am a centrist libertarian and base my vote mainly on the issues involved. I am socially liberal and economically conservative. Not even all gay people accept their sexual orientation. Some haven't come to terms with it and are seeking to be "cured". Some commit suicide.

This conservative Christian woman I spoke with shocked me when she handed me a pamphlet detailing how "all" gay people were atheists and were "going to burn" in hell for "rejecting Jesus" and not professing him as their savior. What she didn't know was that I myself grew up in a Christian fundamentalist household and had once shared her rigid beliefs. I became a conservative Christian long before I ever realized that I was gay. It was fundamentalism's hateful sentiments to the outside world, inherent superficiality, and logical contradictions that caused me to leave, not my sexual orientation. My being gay had nothing to do with my religion. However, it was my denomination's characterization of homosexuality and misuse of biblical passages that gave way to my final decision to exit from it. I figured I could find better acceptance in more liberal, mainline Christian churches.

Likewise, a gay conservative is confronted with the same dichotomy. He is unfairly told that his sexual orientation puts him in a different camp, that his love for other men like him would require him to sacrifice his most deep-seated beliefs and way of life.

But, being gay and opposing gun control have absolutely nothing to do with each other, right? How about favoring the privatization of Social Security, school vouchers or favoring a conservative mode of tax reform? Entirely separate issues, right?

We tend to base our politics in light of how they might benefit us most. Sometimes we disagree on certain issues with those we elect into power. We figure that if we work hard enough, inside the system, and make our own voices known that these officials will eventually realize our point of view. Though we don't get everything we want, we still feel that it's better than letting the other political parties take a hold of things.

Let it be made clear that I'm not arguing whether or not the conservative political viewpoint holds legitimacy. That in itself is worthy of much debate. However, what I do want to instill in the reader is a realization that people come in all shapes and sizes and that one's sexual orientation does not have to be the overriding factor in one's political ideology. As I made clear in my column Cultural Marginalization & The Gay Male (9/02):

"The only thing nearly all homosexuals have in common, apart from sexual orientation, is the level of cultural marginalization we've experienced growing up in a hard and unaccepting world, and our struggle to find equality in an otherwise unequal society."

Those on the religious right would love for there to be a colossal gay "lifestyle". After all, it is indeed much easier to deny civil rights and to denigrate a group of people if what is being criticized is a way of life or a philosophy, instead of an individual's very personhood. There are common trends within the gay population, but these trends in themselves do not make "culture". There are gay people who go to bizarre extremes to demonstrate "visibility" during gay pride week, but these things don't make them any more "truly gay" than the tough, young football quarterback who happens to find that likes other young men.

suffragettecity's picture

I can understand gay conserva

I can understand gay conservatives, but not gay Republicans. Agreeing with certain platforms or tenets of a political party or ideology doesn't mean you have to join that party or attach some kind of label to yourself.

Even if you don't agree with everything the Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, etc. have to say, joining them means that you "officially" agree with their platform, including the racist, sexist and anti-gay stuff (in the case of the Republicans).

greyboi's picture

But...

That's like saying... "I can understand most vegetarians, but not the ones who are wild animal rights activists."

Though I agree and disagree with some parts of the animal rights lobby, I don't feel that they should be viewed negatively simply for holding their views or acting on them. That is their right. It may not always be in terms of a realistic conception of reality, but they have the right to their conception.

suffragettecity's picture

Okay, but being a gay Republi

Okay, but being a gay Republican (as opposed to a gay conservative), is self-contradictory in that it means supporting a party with values that are basically against something that's a part of you. To me, it's like that one Hispanic woman (I forgot her name) Bush was going to install as Secretary of Education who wanted to have the funding for Spanish/English bilingual education pulled.

Being a gay conservative means that you can have conservative views on different issues, but you don't have to be a member of an organization that requires you to "officially" agree with its platform.

Of course gay Republicans are entitled to their own opinions and can join whatever party they want, but the logic behind their party affiliation escapes me.

greyboi's picture

Ok.

I agree.

But, let's not forget that not all Republicans are with the Republican Party. I'm a centrist libertarian who's currently at odds with the current Libertarian involvement in supporting school "choice". (I actually find that in the end it eliminates our choices.)

There are many Republicans who do not support the Bush Administration or the leaders that the Christian Coalition push into office.

Just because someone says they are a Republican, Democrat, Green, liberal, conservative, libertarian, whatever, doesn't mean that they go and lockstep with the crowd.

But, I get what you're saying. Politics can be quite self-contradicting. Sometimes, though, we have to go with the side that is the "lesser evil" of the many tyrants. It sucks, but it's just reality.

JB's picture

I AM

I AM JB!

JB
Vice President and Drug Tzar of The Movement To Free Ommpa loompa Land From The Tyrannical Rule Of The Evil Capitalsitic Despot Willy Wonka And Associates

Jillie's picture

I can understand where you're coming from

Feeling one political party is right for you. However, it is hard for some of us queers to be endeared to the Republican Party when people like Rick Santorum can become chairman of the Republican Senate Caucus, (If you don't know what I'm talking about, the story's at
http://edition.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/04/22/santorum.gays/index.html)

greyboi's picture

An extreme example.

The same argument can be made about guys like Lyndon La Rouche, used to run on the Democrat ticket (before being discovered) and is still attempting to do so to this day.

Jazzer's picture

Jazzer's 2 1/2 cents' worth

I tend to agree. I was having this discussion with one of my mentors about this very topic, and in a moment of sarcastic frustration, he said, "You're crazy if you're a gay Republican--that's like saying, 'I hate myself. Please take away all my rights!!!'" And certainly there is some truth to that.

(One must be careful when using "conservative," however. One can have conservative views about, say, gun control or abortion, but still have liberal views about GLBT issues. Thus, I see perfect legitimacy in being a gay conservative, but not a gay *Republican*.)

I don't think there are a lot of people who agree 1000% with ALL of their political party's platform; I know that I don't. But I think there is also some room for compromise on certain subjects--what subject(s) depends on the individual. As far as I'm concerned, if you're gay, having EQUAL rights with our straight counterparts should not be something one should budge on: it simply doesn't make sense.

And much like we say in regards to one's sexuality: why do we need a label? Why can't we just be?

I think that politics should be the same way: we shouldn't affiliate ourselves with a party if it doesn't meet certain needs and expectations. Yay for Independants! ;)

Michael

Some people's kids...I tell ya!

eTgen's picture

All parties...

No matter what party you stand behind, you will have to compromise on some issues. I refuse to compromise (stubborn? yes). That is why I stand behind no party with the vigor of riding a Donkey or an Elephant. I agree with things from each, but just because one happens to value one thing over another does not mean I need to alter everything that I hold dear and near to be true.

latterz,

eTgen
---
CEO, President, Founder, and First member of:

The Movement To Free Ommpa loompa Land From The Tyrannical Rule Of The Evil Capitalsitic Despot Willy Wonka And Associates

[TMTFOLLFTTROTECDWWAA]

Leisa's picture

This is just one of the many

This is just one of the many reasons why I'm marrying you. :-D

Chief Political Right Hand Woman to Ceo, Founder and First Member of The Movement to Free Oompa Loompa Land from the Tryanicall Capitalsitic Despot Willy Wonka

metrored's picture

I can understand

I can understand Gay Conservatives and even Gay Republicans but I'd never vote for one.
______________________________________________________
Chief Lawyer for The Movement to Free Oompa Loompa Land from the Tyrannical Capitalistic Despot Willy Wonka

jeff's picture

Umm...

I don't think it's a coincidence that whenever Greling enters a discussion, the topic of gay conservatives comes up, though. :-)

Jeff
---
I am Willy Wonka.

greyboi's picture

Well...

When you're a centrist libertarian who holds a set of both conservative and liberal beliefs, people tend to make quick assumptions about you.

When I enter a room of mostly conservatives, I will probably be quickly branded a "radical leftist" or "lost liberal" due to my views on the environment, health care, tax justice, welfare, censorship, abortion, multiculturalism, sex education, affirmative-action and hate crimes legislation.

When I enter a room of left-wing liberals, I will probably be quickly branded a "right-winger" or "old fogie" for my views on gun control, Social Security, public school uniforms, privacy, immigration, the purchase of American products and trade tariffs.

I'm best just left in my own category. Afterall, that is what is at the heart of both centrism and libertarianism.

TeeAhr1's picture

Pre-game warmup

We figure that if we work hard enough, inside the system, and make our own voices known that these officials will eventually realize our point of view.

Yeah, because there's an awful lot of that happening right now.

Please note that this shameless snarkism is not the whole of my thoughts on this issue, but I've got to get to work in about fifteen minutes here. Fear not, I shall expound further on this topic. But not just yet. It's bloody early.

TeeAhr1. Real live legend of the New American West.

greyboi's picture

Yep.

"Yeah, because there's an awful lot of that happening right now."

Yep. Need I mention the Bush character? He's perhaps the worst PR the Republicans have.

Americans support our TROOPS. True. But just about EVERYONE hates the President. That's what the polls like to hide.