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Ken Mehlman & the Politicization of Gay Identity

In his piece on Ken Mehlman’s coming out, R.S. McCain points out the obvious, well, that is, to those who read this blog.

What has changed is that gay-rights activists have turned sexuality into an identity-politics racket, so that any gay person who doesn’t share their agenda is made to feel inauthentic, a traitor to The Cause.

More on this anon, much more.

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29 Comments

  1. Is there no institutional regard and behavior of Republicans and conservatives that negatively affect gay men and women in America that you won’t rationalize? You do remember that pesky 2008 GOP national platform that stated it was immoral to discriminate on any minority status but left out sexual orientation, that homosexuality was incompatible with military service, the support of continuing the DADT policy, the call for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, ad nauseum. Bigotry was written into the GOP national platform but somehow the Left is at fault for working to create organizations that support gay men and women working for their full equality? Mehlmen jumps on the bandwagon now, a 43 year-old man just now coming to terms with his sexuality, and the decades of struggle and work of other gay activists, starting from a time when homosexuality is still classified a psychological disorder, is rendered into a pissy off-hand comment about operating an identity-politics racket? Seriously?

    Where were Republicans when the Left was working to get marriage for same-sex couples in states that now recognize it? Where were Republicans when the Left was working to overturn sodomy laws and convictions? Where were Republicans when the Left was fighting for gay parenting rights helping to establish those laws in the states that recognize it? Where were Republicans when DADT was enacted when the Left was fighting for the full inclusion of gay people in the military? Where were Republicans when gay men were dying right and left from AIDS and the Left was fighting to get more funding for research and treatment? Where were Republicans when the Left was fighting against persecution of gay businesses? Where were Republicans when the Left was fighting to remove the stigma of homosexuality in the first place?

    What does it take for a gay Republican to actually f***ing fight for the things he should have as equally as any other American? Is it that it’s easier posing a smoke screen of concern about smaller government, states rights, taxation and all the other wonky, theoretical politics that somehow make it easier for you to feel complacent about your inaction about defending and protecting the most personal and intimate facet of your lives? Does it feel good to rationalize away being able to legally marry the person you love, to divorce yourself from the idea of raising a child, knowing the whims of irrational bigotry could seriously, negatively affect your career, your home, your privilege to serve your country in the military? If things had been left to Republicans since before significant progress in gay rights, gay men and women would still have to conceal their sexuality from everyone, still live their lives in secret fear. All you have to do is look to Ken Mehlman as the poster boy of that, living a secret for 43 years. He must be a hero to you all for his bravery in standing up to the gay Left. I mean what did they ever do that benefited you ever?

    Comment by Countervail — August 26, 2010 @ 1:34 am - August 26, 2010

  2. If you read a little further into the McCain piece, this quote jumps out more than the one cited. “So the contacts Mehlman made while in the pay of the Republican Party are now being mobilized for purposes alien to and in conflict with the political principles and interests of the GOP’s conservative grassroots.”

    Question to Daniel: To what “purposes” is McCain referring? Presumably he’s referring to gay marriage or gay rights in general. I wonder how it feels to have a prominent conservative describe you and people like you as essentially anathema to conservatism. Such a sentiment might cause me to doubt anything else he has to say on the subject..

    Comment by Mike — August 26, 2010 @ 1:42 am - August 26, 2010

  3. Jumps out to you, but not to me. Note, Mike, that I did not say “Read the whole thing” — which might imply an endorsement of the entire article.

    Because I don’t.

    And where did Mr. McCain call me anathema to conservatism? He invited me to join him and other bloggers for lunch two weeks ago when he was in LA and treated me just as he treated the other bloggers there, in fact, he seemed more interested in my arguments than in those of my fellows at the table!

    That said, I quote the words in question because he’s spot on there. Telling that you respond to the post without addressing that point.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — August 26, 2010 @ 1:57 am - August 26, 2010

  4. Yeah. Normally, I respect Stacy, but he does seem to have an ax to grind with gay Republicans. When it comes to gay people in general, I find he is, frankly, an asshat. Will I drop the “h” bomb? No way. He’s never personally treated me with anything less than respect, when he notices me at all, that is.

    Mehlman did state he was going to be a gay marriage advocate. But, apparently, he’s been doing that already.

    And if, as Stacy maintains, gay marriage is truly opposed to the conservative platform and the conservative base, can it be supposed Mehlman will have any luck in this process?

    What was “obvious” today is Mehlman outed his orientation. Apparently, everyone already knew who that was. His “agenda” was already apparent, wasn’t it? He didn’t become a gay marriage advocate today. He became an openly gay man today. The fact McCain can’t distinguish the two makes me wonder much more about his motives than Mehlman’s.

    Though, I will jump on the “does he need to support the whole gay agenda” thing.

    Perhaps this is nitpicking, but notice how McCain tags this post. It’s not “gay activism” or “gay agenda,” it’s “gays.” Says quite a bit as far as I’m concerned.

    Comment by ChrisIsRIGHT — August 26, 2010 @ 2:00 am - August 26, 2010

  5. Chris, please read my comment above. I don’t always like Stacy’s tone on gay issues. Not only did I meet him — and found that he treated me just as he treated the other bloggers.

    He once e-mailed me about a post he had written to which he had added a significant degree of snark, concerned the snark might offend gay people.

    And if it weren’t for my awareness of his irreverence, I might be more critical of his posts. This one, I’ll grant at times, did seem a little excessive. But the comment I quoted — spot on.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — August 26, 2010 @ 2:13 am - August 26, 2010

  6. A few questions for Mike:

    Why is the Republican Party a force in national politics? Because of Republican voters.

    Why are people Republican voters? In general, it ain’t because they’re fanatically devoted to The Official Gay Rights Agenda.

    Ergo, Mehlman is engaged in a fundamentally dishonest course of action. It’s as if a congressional staffer, after years working on Capitol Hill, decided to resign and, before leaving the office, downloaded the congressman’s constituent-contact information onto a thumb-drive, then used that data as the base upon which to build a private business.

    An analogy you’ll like better: As executive director of the Christian Coalition, Ralph Reed built an extensive list of contacts in the Religious Right and the GOP. He subsequently leveraged those contacts into a private consulting business where, among other things, he collected $5 million pimping for Jack Abramoff’s Indian casino clients.

    The Republican Party contains many disparate elements, but I think it fair to say that the conservative core of the GOP electorate opposes The Official Gay Rights Agenda. You may believe that they are wrong in that opposition, and try to persuade them to the contrary. What you cannot do, at least not in any honest way, is to hijack the party mechanism as a political weapon against the majority of the party’s supporters.

    Those devout Catholic grandmas and fundamentalist homeschooling kids who slog through the snow as GOP volunteers — the people who staff phone banks and put up yard signs, the unbreakable backbone of the Republican Party — deserve more respect than they get from the party elites.

    You don’t have to agree with those grassroots conservatives on marriage, adoption rights or DADT to see that they have been ill served by their onetime RNC chairman, who spent years proclaiming his solidarity with them, only to turn his back on them once it suited his purposes to do so.

    Comment by Robert Stacy McCain — August 26, 2010 @ 2:35 am - August 26, 2010

  7. Daniel: Sure, I’m happy to address the quote. I don’t think the term identity politics applies to me or any other gay Democrats I know. Why are gays supposed to ignore our own self-interest? Indeed, many Republicans pretty harshly attack rich people who support Democrats, do they not? Dubbing them limousine liberals etc. I suppose it depends upon what means more to you: a tax cut or an anti-discrimination law, domestic partnerships etc. Aren’t all politics “identity politics”? Each party has policies that appeal to certain groups. It just so happens, the GOP’s general disdain for gay people and anything to advance gay equality doesn’t appeal much to gays. Neither did Goldwater’s anti-Civil Rights Act stance appeal much to blacks. So, they should have just piped down and voted for him anyway? That’s not logical.

    I note that I do agree with Mr. McCain on one thing: we both think that the war in Iraq was a bad idea. The only difference being he says he didn’t feel comfortable expressing his opposition while working at The Washington Times. I suppose he played a sort of identity politics to remain in good stead with the Republican PArty.

    Comment by Mike — August 26, 2010 @ 2:37 am - August 26, 2010

  8. Mehlmen jumps on the bandwagon now, a 43 year-old man just now coming to terms with his sexuality, and the decades of struggle and work of other gay activists, starting from a time when homosexuality is still classified a psychological disorder, is rendered into a pissy off-hand comment about operating an identity-politics racket? Seriously?

    Yup.

    Because, as I pointed out already, self-same gay-sex liberals have no problem endorsing and supporting people who, by their own standards, are homophobes and violators of gay rights.

    Does it feel good to rationalize away being able to legally marry the person you love, to divorce yourself from the idea of raising a child, knowing the whims of irrational bigotry could seriously, negatively affect your career, your home, your privilege to serve your country in the military?

    Why don’t you tell us, Countervail?

    Because, again, you have no problems whatsoever doing it when the Obama Party and members of your Obama Party do it.

    Meanwhile, don’t make us laugh. Your only interest in “marriage” is to be able to spit in the face of religious people while you play sexual merry-go-round. Your only concern with children is dressing them up and using them as sex toys. Your whining about “career’ is to cover up the fact that you demand sex from your coworkers and want to get away with it, and your only concern with military service is to be able to hand secrets over to your fellow leftists.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — August 26, 2010 @ 2:37 am - August 26, 2010

  9. Why are gays supposed to ignore our own self-interest?

    Because you have no problem supporting and endorsing the Obama Party when it supports and endorses the FMA, supports and endorses state constitutional amendments, supports and endorses DADT, and supports and endorses discrimination against gays in the workplace.

    All of those things would be against your “self-interest” — that is, if you were actually applying some sort of consistent standard, and not simply trying to play identity politics in support of your Obama Party massas.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — August 26, 2010 @ 2:45 am - August 26, 2010

  10. Where were Republicans when gay men were dying right and left from AIDS and the Left was fighting to get more funding for research and treatment?

    It would seem that there was funding for research and treatment, even though Gay Inc. lies about it. Of course it would seem moot given that Gay Inc. has pushed even harder to make AIDS seem cool (if not desirable), bareback videos are on the rise and they oppose the only 100% best way to keep from getting it. Not to mention the proliferation of public sex websites, Folsom Street Festival, Southern Decadence, Fantasy Fest etc.

    Of course anybody who dares suggest that those are probably a bad idea are condemned as racist, sexist, bigot homophobes. My question is “When are gay liberals gonna grow the f**k up?”.

    Good job, assholes.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — August 26, 2010 @ 2:51 am - August 26, 2010

  11. Mike, please bear in mind that conservatives prefer liberty to equality and recognize the tension between the two ideals.

    That said, your comment has little to do with the the actual words quoted. It means that gay people make us feel we are traitor to the cause (whatever that is) if we don’t support the Democratic Party and hold left-wing views.

    This is not about how Republicans treat anybody (not sure why you brought that up — or what relevance it has to the conversation), but how some in the gay community marginalize gay conservatives.

    To wit, in the various fora held around LA after Prop 8 was passed, the organizers included representatives of many, diverse gay organizations, but no gay Republicans. Why this oversight?

    And why the readiness to attack gay Republicans as self-loathing?

    Now, do you get his point?

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — August 26, 2010 @ 2:53 am - August 26, 2010

  12. Gay Republicans are self-loathing because Republicans work against gay rights (civil rights) for example, calling a hate crime against gays a hate crime.

    How can a gay person or ANY human being be against calling a hate crime against gays a hate crime?

    Self-loathing gay Republicans do it easily and casually.

    Comment by David — August 26, 2010 @ 4:12 am - August 26, 2010

  13. I’m not quite sure your point, David, nor how it relates to the subject matter of my post, but you do make your prejudice perfectly clear.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — August 26, 2010 @ 4:15 am - August 26, 2010

  14. His point is:

    Thought crime = double plus good. Equality = double plus UNgood.

    Comment by American Elephant — August 26, 2010 @ 5:34 am - August 26, 2010

  15. David,

    Please explain to me why someone should be charged less of a crime for mugging me and shooting me for my wallet, than someone mugging you and shooting you for your choice of bedmates.

    Comment by The_Livewire — August 26, 2010 @ 6:35 am - August 26, 2010

  16. Just proves the selfishness of the people over there, he was trying to bury the community when it aided his ambitious agenda to grab power now that he has lined his pockets, he is ready to settle down and support gay marriage when he is going to benefit from it. For people like him committing evil acts is never wrong so long as your not the one impacted. Same with Dick Cheney since he has a gay daughter he is for marriage rights but killing for profit he has no problem with as long as him and his own aren’t on the chopping block. There are not very many racist in the Republican leadership but they will gleefully brandish race tinged politics for gain regardless of the negative real consequences they have on peoples lives. It makes them worse then the real racist and homophones because they know better. Ken knew better. These people care about no ones well being but their own. This man is sick and should face the same vitriol from the backwoods conservative community that he has incited to commit violence against good everyday gay people. He is responsible for me not being able to go to the park holding hands without nervousness about being attacked. Ken is a monster and so is his party. How can you even look at their ideas when the premise of their party is to turn the country against itself and destroy it from the inside out.

    REPUBLICANS ARE POISON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by steve — August 26, 2010 @ 10:07 am - August 26, 2010

  17. Wow, and he gets worse and worse.

    Steve, back away from the computer slowly and breathe. With every word you type, you prove Dan’s point.

    Comment by The_Livewire — August 26, 2010 @ 10:26 am - August 26, 2010

  18. There’s a perception that people who choose to remain in the closet only do so out of fear of persecution or reprisals. I don’t think that is the case at all.

    Comment by V the K — August 26, 2010 @ 11:20 am - August 26, 2010

  19. He is responsible for me not being able to go to the park holding hands without nervousness about being attacked.

    Sooooooo…..you’re a gutless turd because of Ken Mehlman? How sad. What sort of derangement causes you to come to that conclusion? So much for being “loud and proud”, eh?

    There’s a perception that people who choose to remain in the closet only do so out of fear of persecution or reprisals. I don’t think that is the case at all.

    Indeed. One of my main worries was that I would be associated with people like Steve and Mike. Yeesh.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — August 26, 2010 @ 12:14 pm - August 26, 2010

  20. “Where were Republicans when the Left was fighting for gay parenting rights helping to establish those laws in the states that recognize it? ”

    My partner and I, both R’s, did just that with a quiet groundbreaking judicial ruling in our home state. That ruling set the groundwork for another case which made it legal for 2 unmarried people to jointly adopt a child. Just because you can’t see it or hear it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

    I find that in liberal environments I am embarrassed to admit to my sexuality. Embarrassed because people will think I am : a slut, drug user, unhappy, angry, Godless, a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, unable to find the “shift key” and that I can decorate a house tastefully. I am none of the above.

    Comment by TnnsNE1 — August 26, 2010 @ 12:52 pm - August 26, 2010

  21. TnnsNE1, my son, based on his contact with gay teenagers in his age group, is also developing the opinion that gay folk are slutty, dishonest, drug users.

    Comment by V the K — August 26, 2010 @ 1:41 pm - August 26, 2010

  22. Why are gays supposed to ignore our own self-interest?

    Why is it not in your self interest to want a better economy than the policies of your party, the Democrats, provide?

    There’s a perception that people who choose to remain in the closet only do so out of fear of persecution or reprisals. I don’t think that is the case at all.

    V?????? Of my friends who we’re “in the closet” (God, I really dislike that term), I know of no one who stayed there for any other reason, whether it be job related, friends, or family. It was the same for me when I was in my 20′s.

    http://sonicfrog.net/?p=3735

    Comment by Sonicfrog — August 26, 2010 @ 2:05 pm - August 26, 2010

  23. Sonic, I think TGC provides one good reason; people simply don’t want to be identified with the gay community because they don’t want to be identified with its cultural norms. There are also people who reject society’s reality-TV mindset and just want to keep their private life private.

    It’s not just sexuality, either. Some people who have, for example, cancer, keep their disease private not because they are ashamed of it, but because they don’t want to be identified as ‘the guy who has cancer,’ or they don’t want to be pitied. Or, there are plenty of veterans who did extremely heroic things in war, but they don’t talk about them because they don’t want the attention, or it’s just something they want to keep themselves. Shame has nothing to do, necessarily, with our choices about what in our lives we want kept private.

    It’s hard to imagine in this day and age where the cultural norm is to be an open book that some people just want some private space to themselves.

    Comment by V the K — August 26, 2010 @ 2:27 pm - August 26, 2010

  24. V, First,, my comment was lame, because in my precess of accepting “gay” I didn’t really fear there would be “persecution or reprisals”, except from my older brother, who I was sure would kick my ass if he saw me coming out of one of the gay bars in San Diego. :-) Have no idea what was going through my head. Oh well.

    Anyway, good points all. I can’t deny that some of that didn’t also play a part in my unwillingness to accept being gay. But to me, that is simply added on to everything else, and is not separate from the fears of losing friends.

    Before I totally accepted being gay, when I was going to gay bars, I never felt like I belonged there either. I just didn’t identify with so much of it. I felt like an outsider, like an alien, when I went to a gay bar…..

    OK, I’ll admit it. It sucked for me because I dance like a white boy!!!!

    Comment by Sonicfrog — August 26, 2010 @ 2:55 pm - August 26, 2010

  25. is also developing the opinion that gay folk are slutty, dishonest, drug users. VTK

    and the straight peers avoid all that and are so wholesome, pure and true role models.

    there are youth that are struggling with their own sexual identity and are all-star athletes, honor society members, student leaders and even quiet wall flowers.

    Sarjex expressed I can’t imagine a more s#it filled destructive environment to come out of the closet in. Not a surprise watching this why more gay conservatives simply stay in the closet.

    Many people have coming out stories where folk are not upset at the idea of ‘homosexuality’ and the weirdness associated with gay culture, but share the feeling of disappointment, had feelings shared by loved ones that they felt left out and yes the feelings of ‘anger and betrayal’.
    But primarily many stories have the central theme that loved ones feel like they have been left out of the lives of there loved ones. Gays fear rejection but out of that fear comes closets, secrets and distance. Some gays hide, others disguise, others become overacheivers, and some wave flags and join protests. Some gays become so terrified that they do and say things to deny any thing to keep themselves ‘hidden’.

    There are many similarities in coming out stories, but each story is unique. Just like all GLBT FOLK

    Comment by rusty — August 26, 2010 @ 2:58 pm - August 26, 2010

  26. #16: “He is responsible for me not being able to go to the park holding hands without nervousness about being attacked.”

    That’s not Mehlman’s fault. steve, if you don’t want to be attacked, stop trying to hold hands with guys who don’t want to hold hands with you.

    Comment by Sean A — August 26, 2010 @ 3:09 pm - August 26, 2010

  27. Sean, no one wants to hold steve’s filthy hands, with the nails chewed down to the nub from all that hatred and insecurity and those big hairy palms….

    Comment by V the K — August 26, 2010 @ 3:22 pm - August 26, 2010

  28. and the straight peers avoid all that and are so wholesome, pure and true role models.

    Of course not.

    But being a slutty, dishonest drug user isn’t nearly as lionized in the straight community as it is in the gay and lesbian one. And therein lies the difference.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — August 26, 2010 @ 9:24 pm - August 26, 2010

  29. NDT, That is just crap. Of course they are….. They’re known as actors, artists, musicians…. and Democratic politicians!!!! :-)

    PS. I’m a gay musician: does that mean I cancel myself out????

    Comment by Sonicfrog — August 27, 2010 @ 1:46 am - August 27, 2010

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