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Why American Gays Not Readily Receptive to Conservatism

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 8:36 pm - March 17, 2009.
Filed under: Gay America,Gay Politics,Identity Politics

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.  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.  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.  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.  The GOP should focus instead on unifying conservative principles.  Indeed, this belief is in line with contemporary American conservatism.  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.  In coming out and developing a gay identity, all too many of us contend that identity involves a certain political consciousness,  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.”  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.  Whereas according to Steele, “American minorities of color — especially blacks — are often born into grievance-focused identities,” we are acculturated into a similar identity.  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.”

To those who see themselves as victims, “contemporary American conservatism” offers, “no mechanism to redeem America of its shames.”  Steele believes that liberalism, by contrast

may stand on decades of failed ideas, but it is failure in the name of American redemption. It remains competitive with — even ascendant over — conservatism because it addresses America’s moral accountability to its past with moral activism.

Lacking such moral activism on gay issues, American conservatism and the one partisan institution ostensibly dedicated to advancing its principles, will not find many adherents among those gays for whom this notion of a community of grievance has become the prevailing ideology.

I fear that the Republican Party may never reach those gays who see their sexual orientation as the defining aspect of their humanity rather than as just one attribute among many.  As I ponder Steele’s column (and encourage you to read it and do the same), I still have hope for my party. I don’t believe all gay people see themselves that way.  I do believe we can reach those gay men and lesbians who simply need reassurance that that the GOP is not beholden to those who would marginalize gay people.

To reach out to gays as well as to blacks, Hispanics and other minorities, Republican leaders must remind our fellow Americans that conservative principles work for all people regardless of any distinguishing characteristic which might differentiate us from the social norm.

FROM THE COMMENTS:  Stephen H. Miller offers:

I agree with Steele about liberals getting a big advantage out of “redemptive politics,” with Obama the ultimate example, while minorities are taught that their prime identity is that of victim.

But the other issue is that while the GOP is not taking racist positions — and liberals are just lying when they say that opposing race-based preferential treatment and other special advantages is equal to racism — it is true that the GOP has advocated a federal amendment banning gay marriage, opposes letting gays serve openly in the military, opposes federal recognition of state-sanctioned civil unions and same-sex marriages, and is very publically aligned with religious conservatives who think homosexuality is (a) a sin and/or (b) a curable malady. Gays perceive the GOP as a threat, like the school bully.

Some of us think the socialist Democratic Party is a worse threat to liberty, but that’s a very hard case to make to gays who see Democrats mouthing nice things about us as they solicit our funds.

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84 Comments

  1. i’m pretty sure i’m not the only one to complain about the filters, v the k.

    Comment by bob (aka boob) — March 18, 2009 @ 8:27 pm - March 18, 2009

  2. No, you’re the only one to take it personally.

    And anything you can site in your C-h-r-i-s-t-i-a-n bashing, besides your feelings of self persecution?

    Comment by The_Livewire — March 18, 2009 @ 9:38 pm - March 18, 2009

  3. hmm..where exactly did i take it personally? i remember expressing frustration…taking it personally? not so much.

    and i have no idea what you’re rambling on about w/ the christian bashing.

    Comment by bob (aka boob) — March 18, 2009 @ 10:04 pm - March 18, 2009

  4. “Try being a pro-life Evangelical in Cambridge.”

    i’m not condoning discrimination in either case, but your example isn’t sound. the difference is that being pro-life is a choice and a political philosophy, as is being evangelical (or any other religion). there is a difference btwn disagreeing with someone’s point of view and disagreeing with someone’s innate nature.

    Comment by bob (aka boob) — March 18, 2009 @ 10:09 pm - March 18, 2009

  5. While our primary home is New Orleans, we also have homes in rural southern Mississippi and Mykonos Greece.

    Cool! Need a valet?

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — March 19, 2009 @ 1:37 am - March 19, 2009

  6. Crap!

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — March 19, 2009 @ 1:38 am - March 19, 2009

  7. The issue isn’t the basis on which you disagree with people, it’s how you treat people you disagree with. C-h-r-i-s-t-i-a-n evangelicals know how to “hate the sin, but love the sinner.”

    For the left, on the other hand, “the personal is political.” Disagreement with the leftist agenda is labeled as “hate speech.” And it is acceptable to mock, ridicule, harass and physically assault those who disagree with you, as we see whenever a conservative speaker visits, say, Cambridge, or when anti-Prop 8 protesters vandalize, threaten, and harass those who supported it.

    Comment by V the K — March 19, 2009 @ 6:34 am - March 19, 2009

  8. v the k: is your ass sore from pulling all of that out of it?

    Comment by bob (aka boob) — March 19, 2009 @ 6:39 am - March 19, 2009

  9. The harassment of Prop 8 supporters is well-documented, and I think Larry Summers can testify how open-minded the gang up in Cambridge is. On the other hand, I haven’t seen any Prop 8 supporters calling anyone a “disgusting faggot,” although if I ever met Barney Frank in person, I might be tempted. (Although “disgusting socialist hypocrite” would be more likely.)

    Unless, of course, one plays the left-wing cutesy-poo “code-word” game where, “I support retaining the traditional definition of marriage” is secret code for “I hate fags.”

    Comment by V the K — March 19, 2009 @ 10:41 am - March 19, 2009

  10. V, excellent points as always.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 19, 2009 @ 10:56 am - March 19, 2009

  11. The contrast with the little-letter-person’s flailing is pretty stark, isn’t it?

    Comment by V the K — March 19, 2009 @ 11:10 am - March 19, 2009

  12. Yeah V: in fact, I have to wonder what it’s like to live with such negative thoughts all the time, as the lowercase-clan seems to… to virtually never have any type of comment to make except expressions of negativity and disdain, and most of those ‘clueless’ in terms of what’s actually going on. I wonder that about certain other GP commentors, not just the lower-case clan. But that’s a story for another time.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 19, 2009 @ 3:01 pm - March 19, 2009

  13. hmm, ILC, perhaps my comments on this blog are mostly negative because i’m a liberal reading a conservative blog. how many non-critical things would you have to say reading daily kos?

    Comment by bob (aka boob) — March 19, 2009 @ 6:42 pm - March 19, 2009

  14. actually, v the k, what you said was:
    “Disagreement with the leftist agenda is labeled as “hate speech.” ”

    i was merely pointing out that we on the left don’t consider your relentless support for unrestricted markets and repeated calls for individual responsibility, for example, as “hate speech”. there are, however, certain things that are, in fact, hateful rhetoric, such as the example i gave.

    i would also consider the statement that allowing gay marriage would result in the end of the world to be a bit beyond the pale. http://minnesotaindependent.com/29356/faith-leaders-ban-gay-marriage-in-minnesota-or-the-world-could-end

    Comment by bob (aka boob) — March 19, 2009 @ 6:47 pm - March 19, 2009

  15. how many non-critical things would you have to say reading daily kos?

    I wouldn’t behave like you do here, that’s for damn sure.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 19, 2009 @ 7:27 pm - March 19, 2009

  16. yes, because you’re such a gentleman here, ILC.

    Comment by bob (aka boob) — March 19, 2009 @ 8:04 pm - March 19, 2009

  17. how many non-critical things would you have to say reading daily kos?

    Considering anyone who says anything critical is instantly banned from DailyKos, I probably wouldn’t last long enough to find out.

    “If everyone is a gay, this world will cease to exist in 10 years,” said Ikram ul-Huq, the imam and religious director of the Muslim Community Center of Bloomington.

    Guess you haven’t gotten the memo. Muslim homophobia must be tolerated in the name of multiculturalism.

    Comment by V the K — March 19, 2009 @ 8:04 pm - March 19, 2009

  18. um, no. muslim homophobia is every bit as ugly and wrong as christian (or jewish, or whatever) homophobia.

    Comment by bob (aka boob) — March 19, 2009 @ 8:31 pm - March 19, 2009

  19. not so much, v the k. homophobia from any religion is wrong.

    Comment by bob (aka boob) — March 19, 2009 @ 8:31 pm - March 19, 2009

  20. yes, because you’re such a gentleman here, ILC.

    Just as I said: I have to wonder what it’s like to live with such negative thoughts all the time, as the lowercase-clan seems to… to virtually never have any type of comment to make except expressions of negativity and disdain, and most of those ‘clueless’ in terms of what’s actually going on.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 19, 2009 @ 9:48 pm - March 19, 2009

  21. really, ilc, the faux outrage is a bit tiring.

    Comment by bob (aka boob) — March 19, 2009 @ 10:24 pm - March 19, 2009

  22. No outrage. My bob, you’re funny. Yet again: I have to wonder what it’s like to live with such negative thoughts as yours all the time… to virtually never have any type of comment to make except expressions of negativity and disdain, and most of those ‘clueless’ in terms of what’s actually going on. You know what I might mean by ‘clueless’? Just look at the fact that you’re imagining outrage on my part, heh 😉

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 20, 2009 @ 2:27 am - March 20, 2009

  23. In fact, let me be as explicit as possible… because who knows, bob: maybe, just maybe, this will be the time the penny drops and you finally have a clue… I’m pitying you here.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 20, 2009 @ 2:33 am - March 20, 2009

  24. *sigh* and again bob makes his comic routine. Hate Speech = words that hurt bob’s feelings.

    We lost the war for the hearts and minds when freedom of speech became ‘freedom to not have to listen’

    As to bob’s attempts at humour. Let me trot out a movie quote. “You make me laugh. But only ’cause I think you’re kinda pathetic.”

    Comment by The Livewire — March 20, 2009 @ 7:28 am - March 20, 2009

  25. #59: I guess 42 years is long enough to call it “traditional marriage”.

    Comment by Attmay — March 20, 2009 @ 9:31 am - March 20, 2009

  26. muslim homophobia is every bit as ugly and wrong as ——–(or jewish, or whatever) homophobia.

    You might want to share this infobit with your buddies in ‘Queers for Palestine.’

    Comment by V the K — March 20, 2009 @ 10:07 am - March 20, 2009

  27. I wonder if anybody agrees with my observation in #45 that it is the pandering by white liberals that attracts gays and minorites to the Democrats.

    Comment by Roberto — March 20, 2009 @ 10:57 am - March 20, 2009

  28. The real problem with white heterosexual liberals is either a conscious or subconscious guilt feeling… Some white liberals are masochistic, they have a desire to be punished, which explains the ¨hate America¨syndrome.

    But it’s a racket. Their feeling of moral inferiority paradoxically gives them a feeling of moral superiority.

    I think your points are valid, Roberto, and I’m going to re-visit what I said at #23 and try to integrate the two. Liberals feel guilty (or morally inferior). They want to feel virtuous (or morally superior). And they want it fast. They don’t want to work at, i.e., to actually do the difficult things that society traditionally recognizes as morally superior. They want a shortcut.

    Their shortcut is this: They reject the very concept of moral superiority, i.e., the very idea that anything can be authentically, morally better than anything else… and then interpret their rejection of the concept as proof of their moral superiority. Yes, it’s crazy. Yes, it’s a self-contradiction, a position of zero integrity. They don’t care about that; or even worse, they take the fact that you and I don’t reject such obvious contradictions as further proof of how smart and wise and moral *they* are.

    Their moral and psychological stance is like this: “My friends and I understand how truly rotten we are, how rotten everybody is, and how rotten America is. Conservatives can’t see it; we do. We grant that America’s vicious enemies are in the right. Therefore, we’re better.”

    Evan Sayet (in the speech I mentioned earlier: http://ace.mu.nu/archives/284342.php) puts it like this. Modern liberals reject the idea of noticing that A is better than B as “discrimination”. The very idea that that hard work is morally and practically better than stealing; that abstinence is morally and practically better than promiscuity; that Israel and/or America are morally and practically better than al Qaeda; is “discriminatory”. They are determined to never discriminate. And that means nothing can ever be admitted to being authentically better than anything else. And that means that the better position and results enjoyed by America, by Israel, by people who work, etc. must be due to cheating. It must be undeserved, it must have been ‘stolen’ from someone else, it must be unfair, it must mask – or indeed be prima facie evidence of – deep corruption and viciousness.

    Here’s what I’m adding to that insight: Modern liberals feel pride in having such thoughts. It is the source, again, of their own (contradictory, Orwellian) feelings of moral superiority. They indulge exaggerated feelings of guilt, and exaggerated hatred of the country and institutions and people that made their very existence possilbe – as proof of their moral superiority.

    I hope I’m not making it too complicated. I think the complications – that is, the crazy contradictions – are in liberalism, and that I’m only trying to trace them.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 20, 2009 @ 8:04 pm - March 20, 2009

  29. Roberto, I have one for you – but it’s filtered. Stay tuned.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 20, 2009 @ 8:05 pm - March 20, 2009

  30. sorry, typo, “…they take the fact that you and I don’t *accept* (or do reject) such obvious contradictions as further proof of…”

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 20, 2009 @ 10:39 pm - March 20, 2009

  31. ILC

    This is where the grand contradiction or hypocrisy comes in. If you don´t agree with them they react with hostility, e.g. Bush bashing (but heaven forbid if you are critical of the anointed one) Hate America but embrace radical terrorists and dictators like Hamas, Ahmadjinedad, Hugo Chavez, and Los Hermanos Castro Castro.

    Comment by Roberto — March 21, 2009 @ 10:36 am - March 21, 2009

  32. Why in the world do you people place so much stock in your political affiliation? Branding yourself either conservative or liberal and is all part of silly social conforming, which in general is sheep-like and silly.

    I personally tend to shy away from both distinctions because on the far end of either side you get the sort of crap that I’ve been reading in this and in the replies to this post. It’s all just holier-than-thou bickering about how terrible people who don’t agree with you are. On both sides. Honestly, try tucking your agenda in a drawer some day and living a little. And I don’t mean by abandoning all your morals and beliefs, and running out and getting smashed, having tons of promiscuous sex, and slandering the government like you all seem to think any gay who isn’t a conservative Republican does. Just spend a day or two not worrying so much about it.

    Seriously.

    Comment by Maryxus — April 4, 2009 @ 12:17 am - April 4, 2009

  33. Also, most people on either the Conservative Republican or Liberal Democrat side agree that Bush was a terrible president. It’s less a matter political affiliation and more a matter of not living with your head shoved up your ass.

    Comment by Maryxus — April 4, 2009 @ 12:20 am - April 4, 2009

  34. Wow, this site is a breath of fresh air. I don’t know what I am, exactly–still liberal on some issues but moving toward the center, I suppose. I don’t care for the religious right, but I’m not sure it’s as big of a threat the community makes it out to be–more like a useful bogeyman that can be trotted out for any and all purposes. I do not believe that gay marriage is the most pressing human rights issue in our world either, although I’m not against it per se. As for the whole issue of the South being oppressive, I’m sure if you conduct yourself in a toned-down, respectful manner and don’t walk around with a chip on your shoulder you won’t have too many problems. Quite frankly I feel more oppressed by the community than I do by conservatives. Strident attention-seekers who want to tell everyone else how to be gay, how to act, how dress, what types of people and bodies you’re supposed to be attracted to!

    Comment by SeekingTheTruth — April 7, 2009 @ 11:45 am - April 7, 2009

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