Monday, August 06, 2007

We Have Never Once, In The Eight Years We've Been Going, Heard A Gay Discuss Politics At Beige. Is That Sad?

Our old pal Jamie Kirchick just had an essay in the Boston Globe about being persecuted by his fellow gays because he’s a Republican. You should read the essay, because it’s an interesting point of view. Something that annoys us about New York is that everyone automatically assumes that everyone in a discussion (especially among gays) is liberal. That’s close-minded, and not terribly dissimilar from assuming that everyone around you is heterosexual, or Christian, or rich – if they are not, it can be uncomfortable.

But Kirchick makes the same generalizations about gay liberals that he accuses them of making about Republicans:

“For many gays, liberalism is just as much a visceral, reactionary tendency as it is a positive affirmation of political belief. Many gays I know – especially those from red states – blame conservatism writ large as the villain that repressed them for so many years. Thus, their homosexuality dictates their political views on everything. For these gays, it is just as much a part of the "coming out" process to be a loud liberal as a proud homosexual.”
That’s a blanket statement which discredits the many gay men and women who have extremely nuanced political views. Sure - being gay can heighten one’s attention to politics (it has for us), it doesn’t necessarily make you a reactionary fool. What Jamie is saying is akin to believing that all conservatives who call for immigration reform are inherently racist. Sure, some are – but to generalize in that manner is unfair to the many that aren’t.

We think what Jamie is trying to articulate is the suspicion that some gay people have for some straight conservatives, who they worry might be bigoted deep down. Because homosexuality is so natural for us, it’s hard to understand why someone would object to it logically unless they had some inherent disgust with the concept. But that doesn’t seem to apply to his thesis – which is about liberal gays rejecting conservative gays. Quite frankly, if the person you are dating wants to break up with you because of political concerns – we just think one or the other of you is talking about it way too much.

Plus, the gays all know everybody’s got their own problems in the bedroom. Republicans take too long to finish, and Dems pull out too early. Badda bing!


MattGaymon said...

"Most would be astonished to hear that they’re the most intolerant people I’ve ever met." Not really - as far as I can tell we've pretty much been minstrelized into the most intolerant people in broadcast media, which is how most Americans still "meet" their homosexuals. Which is why as a total liberal I completely agree with Jamie's point, at least the greater one I hope he's getting at: internal intolerance does us no better than it has any other American minority, and is in fact just as harmful.

TheJollyReprobate said...

I've learned in the past few years that terms like "conservative," "liberal," etc., are almost meaningless. Their meanings are so personal that two people in any discussion almost never have the same definitions in mind, so they use these terms thinking they're talking about the same things when they're not. Far better to talk of opinions on particular issues than slap a label on someone. I find that when I do this, most people agree on most issues, regardless of how they label themselves.

Aatom said...

Not only are the "RethugliKKKlans" looked down upon in our community, but even the faintest hint of agreeing with them, on any issue, results in a permanent stain on your political record. par example: during the post-9/11 period I had severe misgivings about Democrats/liberals and their foreign policy stance. It may have been because they didn't have one, and a rousing chorus of "we hate Bush!!" seemed to satisfy most of them. My attempts to formulate some form of coherent idea of what I believed we should do in the aftermath of being declared war against was more often than not greeted with scorn, contempt and the permanent moniker of "Republican whipping boy". And I swear, I only let that happen once.

bigmouth said...

We should be clear - as Jamie emailed to point out, he's not a Republican. He's a libertarian on many issues, and liberal on some. Perhaps, since gay people are frequently one-issue voters, it's best for everyone to think less about labels, and more about candidates and issues. Man does that sound cheesy.

Aatom said...

Hey, I'm a libertarian too! Which, to anyone else's ears except another libertarian, sounds just like "Republican" for some reason. It sucks.

MattGaymon said...

To me "libertarian" is one of the words like "NoLIta" - it just never stops sounding made up.

Anonymous said...

Thus, their homosexuality dictates their political views on everything. For these gays, it is just as much a part of the "coming out" process to be a loud liberal as a proud homosexual.

That's just one arm of the classic rhetorical double-bind.
If we acknowledge our sexuality before developing liberal politics, then we're liberal because we're gay; if we're raised progressively, then when we come out, we're gay because we were raised by liberals.

Kirchik's disingenuous tactics aside, the current political landscape is such-- and I'm leaving aside marriage rights altogether here, and thinking of hate-crime legislation right now-- that there is a pretty neat party divide between those who want us to remain disenfranchised and vulnerable to unpunishable hate crimes and those who don't. And that means that voting Republican, for a gay man, or a woman, or any person of color, is a self-destructive act.
In other words: it's not about social pressure or conformity. It's about self-preservation.