I had intended to blog yesterday on a National Review fundraiser I attended Saturday night in Studio City, but decided to delay my post until after I had attended a gay party in the heart of West Hollywood later in the afternoon. And in contrasting my reception at these two gatherings, one where I was openly gay among conservative, the second where I was openly conservative among gays, I experienced nearly exactly the same thing I had when I attended two such events back to back last fall.
This time, however, I actually had a good discussion of gays and the GOP with one guy at the gay party. I had quite a blast at the NR shindig Saturday. The hostess (a former liberal and fan of the magazine) told me that she had never seen so many straight people at her place at one time. She regularly socializes with gay men. More evidence that conservatives are not so narrow as our critics (and some readers of this blog) claim.
I met a number of writers and editors whose columns (and Corner “chatter) I enjoy and got to talk to Peter Robinson, newly installed as a trustee of Dartmouth and author of the wonderful book, How Reagan Changed My Life (which I bought when I visited the Reagan library with Bruce). Jonah Goldberg was much taller than I imagined and most gregarious. A Lord of the Rings fan like me, he is, alas, not so keen (as I) on The Silmarillion.
Ramesh Ponnuru proved to be an excellent conversationalist, well-read and familiar with the details of legislation in this Congress (and past Congresses). K-Lo (i.e., Kathryn Jean Lopez), witty and smart, informed me that my Athena reads the Corner. And even though he once considered running for Mayor of New York, Rich Lowry looks like he’s still a student at America’s finest state university.
I introduced myself to each by indicating the blog (with which most were familiar). Kate O’Beirne was the only one who raised an eyebrow when I identified myself as gay. And that may have been because I reminded her of an exchange we had at the Cato Institute in the mid-90s (which she did not remember as well as I–if she remembered it all).
In short, I got a warm reception at the event — and not merely from the NR staff, but also from the other conservatives who had gathered to celebrate what Ronald Reagan once described as his favorite magazine. No one seemed bothered that I was gay. And I was not the only gay person there. There were at least two others (and two on my wish list).
And while the reception I got yesterday at the gay shindig was a little warmer than that I get when I identify myself as Republican at such parties, I did meet one person who dismissed my ideas before I could even articulate them. This otherwise very bright young man, repeated the usual litany of leftist attacks on the president (****BUSH LIED*****, he’s corrupt & etc.). He couldn’t believe that a gay person could be conservative. As I took issue with some of his misrepresentations of our man W and attempted to explain how a gay man could be conservative, he said he couldn’t continue the conversation and took his leave. At least he was polite.
Later, another man seemed genuinely eager to learn my thoughts on gays and the GOP. (After that, I had a most amazing conversation with two other guys about myth, psychology and The Lord of the Rings, both the books and the movies, and even recited a few lines of Beowulf in the original.)
Once again, I find a warmer welcome as an openly gay man at a conservative gathering than I do as an openly conservative man at a gay gathering. While many on the gay left put forward the image of conservatives as an intolerant lot, my experience has been quite the contrary. Most conservatives (particularly those of the intellectual sort) seem less interested in my sexuality than in my ideas. And more willing to engage me than many on the gay left who proclaim themselves to be advocates of tolerance.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com
ADDENDUM: PrismWarden suggested that I should do an investigative piece where we go to conservative and gay events and gauge reactions. It looks like I’m back to continuing the experiment I had begun just before the election. A few people e-mailed me back then to share their experiences. So, I’ll ask again, please e-mail me to relate stories of your experiences coming out as gay in conservative and Republican circles — and as conservative or Republican is gay circles. And please let me know if I may quote your e-mail on the blog.