Thursday, April 16, 2009

GOProud? Hardly.

The following is a note posted on Facebook, by Joseph Chambers, a young gay man from West Virgina who until recently indentified as a Republican. I've posted his article in its entirety since not every has access to Facebook.

I was reading the Wall Street Journal recently when I came across an article covering the founding of a new organization for gay Republicans: GOProud.

Let me be clear: I'm a strong proponent of capitalism and a free "marketplace of ideas," so to speak. While the unnecessary duplication of energy and effort may at first be inefficient, we can be reasonably sure that in the end, either the Log Cabin Republicans (the "establishment" gay Republican organization) or GOProud will emerge victorious, and the other will wither. It's natural selection, in a political context.

What troubles me, however, is what this new group purports to fight for.

If you go to the website of the Log Cabin Republicans, and look at their "Issues" menu, you'll see the following agenda items, which correspond to their public policy priorities:

  • Gay and Lesbian Families (Support adoption rights, civil marriage equality, and fair treatment in the tax code).

  • Protect Marriage in California (Repeal Prop H8).

  • Don't Ask, Don't Tell (Repeal it, too).

  • Health Watch (Promote safer sex practices).

  • Campaigns and Elections (Encourage gay-friendly Republicans to run for office and support their campaigns).

  • Workplace Discrimination (Pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would make discrimination by employers against gays and lesbians a federal crime).

If you go to the website of GOProud, and look at their "Legislative Priorities" menu, you'll see their own to-do list, but not until after you read a slanderous attack on the "gay agenda."

  • Tax Reform (Give lip service to fair tax treatment for gays and lesbians, but the real focus is on cutting taxes for high-income earners).

  • Healthcare Reform (Allow purchase of insurance across state lines, which actually makes sense, and end employer-provided health insurance, which would pass costs along directly to the consumer).

  • Social Security Reform (Privatize Social Security).

  • Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal (Self-explanatory).

  • Holding the Line on Spending (Assumedly, massive cuts in spending on education, healthcare, transportation, and public safety).

  • Fighting Global Extremists (Fundamentalists don't exactly like gays and lesbians, in this country or any other, so this makes sense).

  • Defending our Constitution (Opposing any anti-gay federal marriage amendment).

  • Encouraging Community Entrepreneurship (Support small business, which I think is a good idea).

  • Revitalizing our Communities (Mainly, an assault on public education).

  • Defending our Community (Assault weapons for everyone).

Please note: GOProud, which claims to be the new "it" group for gay Republicans, waits until the seventh point in a 10-point list to address the single most important issue for gays and lesbians in this country: civil marriage equality. Not only do they do that, but they do not commit to wage the fight for gay equality using whatever legal tools available, or to stand up in defense of court decisions expanding our rights when other Republicans attempt to undermine and compromise them.

I know a fair number of gay Republicans. Many of them are fine people, who understand that our country will be more prosperous and more free if we embrace principles like better government, fairer taxes, individual liberty, personal responsibility, an assertive national defense, and free markets. They get that our struggle for equal rights is just one chapter of a greater American story, and so they stand with women in their struggle for reproductive freedom, or with racial minorities in their struggle for civil rights. Mostly, they understand that the Republican Party can be saved from itself, that its prevailing homophobic worldview is morally indefensible, and that the Republican Party's true goal should always be to expand opportunity and freedom, not inflict a religious philosophy on those who do not share it by using the power of the state.

Most gays and lesbians are Democrats. I understand this. It is important, however, for everyone to know that there are gays and lesbians who are not Democrats, but still believe that our struggle for justice is noble, and should be aggressively prosecuted.

Look at the two lists of priorities, and you'll see what I'm saying: for the Log Cabin Republicans, equality is a cause worth fighting for.

I also know the types of people who populate GOProud. A few are misinformed, and just don't know what this new group really stands for. Some are simply hyperambitious, and will do anything to get a few scraps tossed to them from the RNC table--even sell out the rest of us.

But many of them are the same type who have held our community back for all these years by insisting that it's no community at all. They're the ones who internalize the shame and doubt of the closet, and believe in getting along by going along. They're the ones who accuse the rest of us of being shallow, egocentric whores, while they occupy some higher moral plane. They're the ones who introduce themselves by saying "I'm gay, but not like you think." Finally, they're the ones who made "straight-acting" a medal of honor, while making "gay pride" a badge of shame.

Not all of us perform in drag. Not all of us attend BIGLM meetings at WVU or Lambda meetings at Marshall. Not all of us march in gay pride parades. Not all of us lobby legislators. Not all of us manage campaigns or run for office. Every person who does these things, however, is a hero in the fight for equality and justice. They're heroes because they do their part, however small that part might be.

The other side? They insist that we should be just a little less adamant. They insist that we should show just a little more restraint. They insist that we should feel just a little less proud. They insist that we'd get just a little more respect if, instead, we'd ask for just a little less, and that we'd achieve victory if we just laid down and surrendered.

Closets are safe, yes--but they're also dark, and suffocating. And frankly, it disappoints me to see a gay Republican group decide that it's more important to fit in than to speak out.


Not on your life.


    Patrick said...

    You're lamenting that they categorize gay Democrats as shallow, egocentric whores.. and yet turn around and make similar, equally tired assumptions about them: by not embracing the campy "gay culture" that you wrongly believe speaks for all gays, they're hiding themselves in the closet, or are ashamed, or even judgmental of those of a dissimilar mindset.

    In ANY given continuum, you're going to have people on the extremes. That's how it's a continuum.

    On one side, you'll have people that act flamboyant purely as an affectation, that intentionally speak about so-called "taboo" issues in public--loudly--to prove a point. On the other side, you'll have severely closeted, paranoid people that express their sexuality in complete secrecy.

    In my experience, liberal gays seem to assume that they speak for the entire spectrum, and openly and angrily confront any contradictions to their standpoints. Also in my experience, there are countless gays that self-identify as fiscally conservative, but socially liberal. I myself fall into this category. However, the Democratic party is “socially liberal, fiscally liberal” whereas the current Republican party is “de facto fiscally liberal, socially conservative.” Both are less than ideal choices for the group I described: some of us capitulate to the Democratic party, because social issues are more important. Others do the reverse—they, as liberal gays claim—“sell out the others.” In my opinion, BOTH choices are “selling out the others.” Why do you think there are so many apolitical citizens? I really don’t think it’s due to general antipathy or apathy towards politics—it’s because neither of the parties speak for the middle.

    You're making the same kind of judgments--you think they should be proud of who they are, assuming that they're hiding who they are, rather than genuinely having no INTEREST in things like gay pride parades or drag queen shows.

    In fact, I think “they” have some good points: the way people have begun to warm to gay politics is that there are more and more people openly living their lives. I don’t think seeing the stereotype “fashion queer” on Renovate-Your-House or Extreme Makeover shows convey the message that “gays are our brothers, our sisters, our cousins, our aunts and uncles—it’s wrong to hate them. They’re just like us, and want to be left alone to live their lives in peace.”

    All in all, I think that if the Republicans dropped the social reactionaries by the wayside--you'd see a LOT of the gay population flock to them. Statistically, gays are more affluent, and similarly--the more affluent are attracted to fiscal conservatism. They just don't like the fundamentalist Christians that have hijacked the party.

    Patrick said...

    Reading your post again, I see you were merely copying the Facebook post verbatim. I responded as if you yourself had made the post. My apologies.