When all too many Americans comes out as gay or lesbian, while they may at first continue to adhere to the political philosophy they held before acknowledging his sexuality, after a time socializing with their gay peers, they gradually comes to adopt the political views of those around him.Â Adopting such liberal political views, it seems, has become a rite of passage for the openly-gay American.
I have come to believe that more than anything else, the desire to belong, social conformity, determines the political ideology of a good number of American gays.Â That belief came to mind yesterday when I read posts by two smart conservative bloggers, Tom Maguire and Paul Mirengoff reflecting on Shelby Steele’s Wall Street Journal op-ed, Why the GOP Can’t Win With Minorities. Some of the arguments Steele made on the difficulty Republicans had in reaching out to ethnic minorities could apply to sexual minorities as well.
Unlike many gay activists, including leaders of Log Cabin, I don’t think the Republican Party need develop a gay-specific outreach plan.Â I simply believe the party should abandon policies which discriminate against gay people and otherwise leave us alone to live our lives as we please.Â The GOP should focus instead on unifying conservative principles.Â Indeed, this belief is in line with contemporary American conservatism.Â As Steele puts it:
Still, an appeal targeted just at minorities — reeking as it surely would of identity politics — is anathema to most conservatives. Can’t it be assumed, they would argue, that support of classic principles — individual freedom and equality under the law — constitutes support of minorities?
Eschewing identify politics, however, might not work in an era of group consciousness.Â In coming out and developing a gay identity, all too many of us contend that identity involves a certain political consciousness,Â wherein we demand certain gay-specific policies in exchange for our support.
That consciousness comes from the circumstances of the 1960s which Steele believes “opened a new formula for power in American politics: redemption. If you could at least seem to redeem America of its past sins, you could win enough moral authority to claim real political power.”Â Translated into gay terms, this means, we need state action to redeem America’s “homophobic” past.
As we learn of that past, we start seeing ourselves not just as individuals whose emotional and sexual attraction to our gender, distinguish us from our peers, but as victims of “heterosexist” society.Â Whereas according to Steele, “American minorities of color — especially blacks — are often born into grievance-focused identities,” we are acculturated into a similar identity.Â As just as for racial minorities, “The idea of grievance will seem to define them in some eternal way, and it will link them atavistically to a community of loved ones.”