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The Mostly Inaccurate Portrayal of Gay Republicans on Stage and Screen

As I watched the rather mediocre movie The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green last night, I was reminded of a post I wrote in December 2004 when I was visiting my sister & mother (who, by the way, is celebrating her birthday today) in San Francisco. I had seen a drag show where the performers repeatedly made anti-Bush jokes and observed:

. . . the drag show I saw Thursday night reminded me (yet again) why it’s so difficult for gay people to come out as Republicans. Our entertainers take it as a given that we will laugh at anti-Republican jokes, no matter how crude, no matter how mean. Humorists assume that gay (and gay-friendly) audiences all cast Republicans as the villain. That we all see the world the same way they do.

And in the flick I saw last night the gay Republican was the villain. He was a caricature of an overbearing man, unlike any gay Republican I have met. Perhaps I read too much into this as a friend told me the movie (which he refuses to see) is based on a San Francisco cartoon strip where all the characters are caricatures — as they are in this movie.

To be sure, the flick did have its humorous moments, though far fewer than did the movie I saw the previous night — Nacho Libre. And that latter flick suffered from being fifteen minutes too long.

Ethan Green also had a few good lines. “One way to win the [dating] game is to stop playing.” And the protagonist’s mother did say, “Gay Republicans deserve to be happy.”

Too bad the filmmakers made the gay Republican into a boorish lout who appeared incapable of affection and unworthy of happiness. It seems alas that most images of gay Republicans in gay culture are caricatures. In Angels in America, Tony Kushner drew his gay Republicans as shallow, self-hating individuals, more akin to the left’s favorite epithet (“Jewish Nazi”) to describe us than on any actual, breathing gay conservatives.

I wonder if these writers have ever met a gay Republican and taken the time to get to know him or her — or if they just draw these characters from their imaginations, basing their screen (or stage) gay Republicans not on the complicated people that we are, but on the narrow self-hating individuals of their imagination. Thus, it seems these characters say more about their own projections than they do about the reality of gay Republicans.

It’s time I finish The Last Campaign, my screenplay featuring a gay Republican, based loosely on one I know very well.

-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com

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22 Comments

  1. It always seems to me that the liberals are the most hate-filled, self-loathing, miserable people.

    But then I know the writers would have no interest presenting their “caricatures” that way.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — July 1, 2006 @ 1:38 am - July 1, 2006

  2. I was thinking along the same lines as #1. My perception has been that most gay conservatives seem to be happy and satisfied. I find this of conservatives in general.

    So many liberals seem to be bitter, hate filled or want to where their victimhood on their sleeves that happy isn’t what I see.

    I do think gay or straight the Hollywood and literary world tends to paint the republican or conservative characters in a bad light, and they often end up the “bad” guy. If we went to the local video store or book store and pulled stuff off the shelves, I would be willing to bet that 9 out of 10 would have unhappy conservatives and happy well adjusted liberals in the story (although books don’t seem to be quite as bad as movies-so their ratio may be lower, or maybe it is just my choice in reading material).

    Comment by just me — July 1, 2006 @ 7:52 am - July 1, 2006

  3. You’re describing the liberal bubble, which doesn’t really have anything to do with sexuality. Liberals always assume everyone else is a liberal, and crack remarks accordingly all the time. Work on campus, and see what I mean.

    Comment by rightwingprof — July 1, 2006 @ 9:01 am - July 1, 2006

  4. You’re right that gay conservatives are mocked and castigated in the gay community. I would suggest that it is more due to the dissolution of civil conversation than “conservatives are happy & satisfied but liberals are bitter and hateful.” We’re long past the idea that “reasonable people of goodwill can disagree.”

    There are no people of goodwill left on either side.

    Comment by Br. Katana of Reasoned Discussion — July 1, 2006 @ 9:02 am - July 1, 2006

  5. 2&3: It’s funny that you’re immediately generalizing liberals, exactly in the same way that gaypatriotwest talks about how gay republicans are portrayed. sigh. When I write something disagreeing with someone’s political philosophy, I try like hell to stick to that (not always succeeding though) and not attck them as human beings because our political are only a portion of who we are as people.

    One of my dearest friends in the world who I knew for many years died unexpectedly and suddenly of a heart attack a couple of years ago. He ran in a lot of political circles (with both dems and repubs), was an absolute rabid liberal democrat, but outwardly had a very quiet and conservative demeanor to him – he could also be intensely private about his personal life. When I flew across country to attend his funeral, I encountered a guy who was by himself at the service and looked very lonely. I went up to say hi to him and we began chatting. I came to find out that he had been dating my friend for nearly 2 years. As we spent a little bit of time together talking, I also came to find out he was a republican who worked in the Bush administration. This surprised for a few seconds, not initially picturing my friend dating someone who was not a liberal, but quickly reqlized that he was clearly a kind, gentle loving person and the 2 of them were a perfect fit for each and was glad my friend had him in his life.

    Comment by Kevin — July 1, 2006 @ 10:13 am - July 1, 2006

  6. Kevin my post was filled with weasel words, and I didn’t say “all” there is always the exception to the rule.

    But my obersvations about movies and books I think are correct-in the majority the conservative people are portrayed as the bad guys, or at least they aren’t as nice, warm, fuzzy and likable as the more liberal characters. I haven’t read too many books with conservative oriented gay characters-the closest I can think of is Jonathan Kellerman’s books with the gay secondary character-but Milo’s political philosophy doesn’t really come out-he is mostly cynical, which is probably true of many cops who have been cops that long.

    Comment by just me — July 1, 2006 @ 11:05 am - July 1, 2006

  7. Vera finds it disturbing the gay left doesn’t have a problem with gays being portrayed as swishy, infantile, sexually compulsive, self centered or manipulative (see: Will & Grace, Queer As Folk, anything starring Philip Seymour Hoffman or written by Quentin Tarantino for numerous examples) yet becomes apoplectic at the thought of gay republicans being portrayed as mentally stable, job holding, tax paying, child raising, law abiding, free thinking individuals.

    If diversity and inclusion really is more than just a slogan to the gay left, why do they continue to vilify their conservative gay brothers and sisters?

    Vera has a test for you:

    Voice a conservative position (anything from support for the WOT, to lower taxes, to disgust with the UN, or a strong belief in a mainstream – Christian or Jewish – religion) in a liberal setting (Vera wore a ‘W-2004’ tee shirt in P Town, but Vera will let you pick your own venue) and watch the reaction. Reverse the test (voice a liberal position in a conservative setting) and gauge the results. You should attempt to defend your position with intelligence, facts and in a civil manner (this blog should give you some good examples of civil discourse). Vera found the results of her experiment interesting and disconcerting (The A-House in P-Town allows butt-less chaps, but not conservative tee shirts).

    Vera wishes all a safe and happy 4th of July.

    Cheers!

    Comment by Vera Charles — July 1, 2006 @ 11:40 am - July 1, 2006

  8. Or it could be mostly bad writing. (Though that doesn’t explain what Vera describes.)

    Military and religious believers often get the same treatment. I’m sometimes tempted, when giving a critique of a work in progress, to just say “you can’t possibly expect to sell this” when something is that ideologically loaded, but I suspect they *can* sell it to someone so I usually try to be more diplomatic in pointing out that the character either needs to be more balanced or there needs to be a counter-weight character to show that it really is a personal problem and not how all “those people” really are. If I’m feeling really daring I might say, “because you don’t want to piss off half your audience.”

    If I don’t know them well, OTOH, I probably won’t say anything at all.

    Comment by Synova — July 1, 2006 @ 12:20 pm - July 1, 2006

  9. The comic strip has been great in the past and I’m a pretty big fan. It is a Democrat strip, however. I remember the strips on gay republicans with “nazi youth” being used in one frame. Like all the Left, they just can’t adapt to a changing world. They’ll fall just like the Soviets. Its only a matter of time.

    Comment by VinceTN — July 1, 2006 @ 12:48 pm - July 1, 2006

  10. Wow, all a gay liberal has to do to be converted to gay conservativism is just to visit Gay Patriot. You can just feel the love.%

    Comment by chandler in hollywood — July 1, 2006 @ 12:53 pm - July 1, 2006

  11. No one is so stupid they can be converted on a web site. Its all talk. Toughen up Chandler.

    Comment by VinceTN — July 1, 2006 @ 1:16 pm - July 1, 2006

  12. #7: “(voice a liberal position in a conservative setting) and gauge the results.”

    Take the commnets in this blog for an example. Common references to those who provide a leftist viewpoint: fucktard, moonbat, douchebag, full of shit, shithead, lame brain bastards, pieces of shit, liberal cum catchers and that’s just in the last few days. Ian is starting to wonder if Vera is a parody.

    Comment by Ian S — July 1, 2006 @ 2:38 pm - July 1, 2006

  13. I’m on the road, don’t have too much time to comment but I have to jump in here.

    #1-#2 – I think the technical words are “projection” or “deflection”. The gay liberals I’ve known have often struggled with issues of shallowness and self-hate, shall we say. But they don’t want to admit it, so they project it onto (or scapegoat) someone else.

    #3 – “Liberal bubble” – here’s a tiny story. I am an Election Day worker and I will often be assigned to a “professor’s precinct” at a major national university. Needless to say, the precinct is probably 2/3 Democrat. Us workers are supposed to make sure the polling place stays free of political comments. We’ll always get a jerk or two making comments, usually leftists. In a primary election, we are forced to ask people their party affiliation. Voter X overheard that voter Y (next in line) was Republican. X proclaimed like we should all agree, “THAT’s gotta be embarrassing!!” In a totally calm, neutral way I said, “Oh, I don’t know. What’s embarrassing depends on the person’s viewpoint.” X’s mouth fell and face drained of color – seemingly shocked that I hadn’t obliged him with a yuk-yuk, wink-wink response. :-)

    #10 – Yeah chandler, and in your comments here over time, you do such a great job of modelling love. (Not.)

    Comment by Calarato — July 1, 2006 @ 2:56 pm - July 1, 2006

  14. Calarato,
    Sometimes it isn’t all about me.

    Comment by chandler in hollywood — July 1, 2006 @ 3:13 pm - July 1, 2006

  15. Vera wore a ‘W-2004’ tee shirt in P Town

    P-Town????? Anyway, this county is heavily Republican.

    #3 – “Liberal bubble” – here’s a tiny story. I am an Election Day worker and I will often be assigned to a “professor’s precinct” at a major national university. Needless to say, the precinct is probably 2/3 Democrat. Us workers are supposed to make sure the polling place stays free of political comments. We’ll always get a jerk or two making comments, usually leftists. In a primary election, we are forced to ask people their party affiliation. Voter X overheard that voter Y (next in line) was Republican. X proclaimed like we should all agree, “THAT’s gotta be embarrassing!!” In a totally calm, neutral way I said, “Oh, I don’t know. What’s embarrassing depends on the person’s viewpoint.” X’s mouth fell and face drained of color – seemingly shocked that I hadn’t obliged him with a yuk-yuk, wink-wink response. :-)

    Yes, I worked the election in Indiana. In 04, I worked all morning as a runner, meaning that I drove from site to site to pick up the poll books and take them back to headquarters (you can figure out which party). The Dems had their panties in such a wad about imagined “voter intimidation” that at the last minute, they got together a bunch of volunteers to stand at the sites.

    Not once, not twice, but three times this Dem observer stopped me and demanded to know what I was doing there, then started screaming that what I was doing wasn’t legal. Two of them had to be ejected.

    Pennsylvania is completely different from Indiana. Pennsylvania is a party registration state; Indiana is not. Pennsylvania has very lax laws about campaign materials near the site; Indiana has very strict laws about such things. But what really got me was at the primary in March, when the guy at the table yelled, “We got another Republican!” to the room at large. That would never happen in Indiana. Though I was a bit unsettled, I did find it mildly amusing when as I was waiting to vote, the same guy yelled, “We got our second Democrat!”

    Comment by rightwingprof — July 1, 2006 @ 5:06 pm - July 1, 2006

  16. 13: So that means there are no conservative/republicans who “have often struggled with issues of shallowness and self-hate, shall we say”? should analyze closely the pyschology of some famous conservatives like Roy Cohn and J. Edgar Hoover? It’s interesting athat a few people here continously ascribe negative personal traits (that have nothing to do with political affiliation) to liberals only.

    Comment by Kevin — July 1, 2006 @ 11:52 pm - July 1, 2006

  17. Kevin in #16, while I think you’re misrepresenting Calarato’s point, I do agree with you that there are conservatives who have struggled with issues of self-hate, yours truly among them. Indeed, I would say that anyone who differs from the norm, whatever that norm may be, has struggled with such issues.

    It would be a great thing if those who produce our “cultural product” could show that self-hate in a larger context and show how some of us have overcome it while remaining conservatives. Others, like Roy Cohn, never seem to have totally overcome that demon. But, alas, Tony Kushner made him into a caricature rather than portraying him as a man who never fully came to terms with (what might appear to some) as the conflcting aspects of his character. Roy Cohn was a truly tragic figure, an accomplished attorney, but stunted in his personal life.

    I basically agree with your point, but think Calarato was saying is that some liberals who have struggled with self-hate project that onto conservatives. And I agree with that assessment. For, much as there are conservatives, like Roy Cohn, who never seem to have overcome their discomfort with certain aspects of their character, there are many liberals who have never overcome their discomfort with other aspects of their character.

    To paraphrase Alexander Haig, neither side has a monopoly on self-hatred, not mine, not yours.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — July 2, 2006 @ 12:29 am - July 2, 2006

  18. (this blog should give you some good examples of civil discourse)

    Vera:

    The blog entries can be good examples of civil discourse, unfortunately the readers prefer to engage an Ann Coutler / Michael Moore style of discourse.

    Comment by Br. Katana of Reasoned Discussion — July 2, 2006 @ 9:22 am - July 2, 2006

  19. [...] GayPatriot has details. [...]

    Pingback by The Conjecturer » Hollywood Shocker: Christians, Gays Stereotyped! — July 2, 2006 @ 4:15 pm - July 2, 2006

  20. #17 GayPatriotWest — July 2, 2006 @ 12:29 am – July 2, 2006

    Indeed, I would say that anyone who differs from the norm, whatever that norm may be, has struggled with such (self-hate) issues.

    Some of us didn’t.

    Comment by raj — July 3, 2006 @ 10:26 am - July 3, 2006

  21. “Self hatred” is an empty phrase belonging to the culture of pop psychology. I don’t find it particularly useful to engage in such a diagnosis because someone has a different political perspective from mine. It immediately pathologizes people on the basis of politics, which is absurd.

    I’d be more comfortable with a term like “cognitive dissonance” — one stellar example of which is the relentless criticism here of ad hominem invective on the part of the left with utterly no self-consciousness of its inevitabilty in posting here by those on the right.

    “Civil discourse” is rare on this site. Of course, that’s part of the fun of reading it!

    Comment by donny — July 4, 2006 @ 12:17 pm - July 4, 2006

  22. [...] talk to Republicans, least of all gay ones. Even when they write about them. What else explains the portrayal of the gay Republican in The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan [...]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » “Out” Magazine writes about Gay Republicans without talking to Gay Republicans — April 23, 2008 @ 11:46 am - April 23, 2008

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