To celebrate my six-month blogiversary, I reposted the quotation from Camus with which I entered the blogosphere. To me, that quote helps define what blogging, especially for blogs, like this one, which invite comments, should be all about.
Camus feared the “long conversation of mankind” was coming to an end, in part, because people remained fixed in their ideologies, not willing to let themselves be persuaded by the arguments of others.
As gay conservatives, we see all too clearly such narrow ideologies, both in our gay identities and in our political leanings.
As gays, we are stigmatized by certain social conservatives who are unwilling to recognize that many of us strive to live our lives with the same — or similar values — as the most pious Christians. This past week, I have posted twice (here and here) on how they refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of legislation enacted (or in the process of being enacted) which recognizes gay unions. It seems they have blinded themselves to the reality of many gay lives, those countless same-sex couples who seek (and do) live together in monogamous unions. They see gay people not by looking at the broad range of gay “lifestyles” but through a narrow definition of the “gay lifestyle” — and by a narrow reading of Scripture.
As conservatives, we are stigmatized by many on the left who assume that being a part of some minority, be it one of race, religion or sexual orientation requires one to adopt the principles of contemporary American liberalism, which includes strong and frequent critiques of all forms of American conservatism, even those which are not anti-gay. When we do not fit their narrow view of what a gay person should be, they dismiss our arguments and label us “self-hating.”
It seems that more often that not, neither wishes to engage us. Too many of them, on the social right as well as on the angry left, have become no more than what Camus would call, representatives of an ideology. They think like those around them, having created an abstract view of the world, leaving no room for individual distinction or philosophical difference.
There are many social conservatives of good will, just as there are many liberals of good will. Those social conservatives understand that not all gay people are sexually promiscuous; many struggle to develop the appropriate attitudes toward gay men and lesbians. Many liberals may be befuddled by our political views, but they do acknowledge that we have reached them sincerely, through careful consideration and honest thought.
I am intrigued by those people who refuse to listen, who see us not as we are, but as they, or more precisely the narrow ideologies to which they adhere, have defined us. They have set up an abstraction and can’t see the individual beneath. Nor his ideas. We as gay conservatives get the worst of it, from social conservatives who fault (what they define as) our “lifestyle” and from gay liberals who have labeled us as “self-hating.” We can well understand the wisdom of Camus’ words and why he was concerned.
The solution, however, is not to sit back and complain, but to stand up and speak out, to express our opinions honestly and in good faith — even at the risk of being misunderstood and misrepresented. And to understand, above all, that while some many never open their minds to our ideas or our difference (i.e., our sexuality), others may come to recognize that we are not the demons of their imaginations. We must always hold onto the hope that, through honest dialogue, we can break through the intransigence and intolerance of our intellectual and ideological adversaries.
As gay conservatives, we are keenly aware of the intransigence of the angry left and the intolerance of many on the religious right. That awareness should not discourage us, but remind us of the importance of dialogue. We may not always persuade our critics, by merely speaking out, we affirm, what Camus called, “the eternal confidence of man,” that hope that by speaking in the language of our common humanity, we can persuade those who have a narrow view of us or our ideas to see things in a different light.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com