Broadly speaking, there are two types of reactions we get when we come out as conservative to our gay peers, particularly to those who have never previously met a “homocon.” To be sure, there is also a third type of reaction we get, but that from those who more regularly interact with gay conservatives and who are truly familiar with the ideas undergirding modern American conservatism. And while it may seems sometimes that most who meet us respond with bile and vitriol, we only report those stories more often because they provide greater entertainment and reveal much about a growing strain of intolerance inherent in the new American left.
We also tend to remember such dramatic confrontations more readily than we more polite and genuinely curious expressions of incredulity. And that type of incredulity seems to be the more common reaction, gay men and lesbians who seem legitimately astounded that someone so intelligent, sensitive and interesting could support ideas or back the political party whose guiding principle, they have been taught to believe, is preserving straight white male privilege. Unlike the “third type” mentioned above, they have little real experience with real conservatives and almost no understanding of Republican ideals. They don’t know the history of the conservative movement and remain unfamiliar with the everyday concerns of rank-and-file Republicans.
All they know is what gets filtered through the mainstream media, what they learn in conversations with their friends and, increasingly, what they find presented in various social media. They have rarely met actual conservative individuals and have had almost no exposure to our web-sites, magazines, editorial pages nor have they read books which articulate our ideals.
It is no wonder then that when I met last week Mito Aviles, that energetic challenger running for West Hollywood City Council, was surprised to learn that a gay man who had the same concerns about our city as he, could identify with the GOP. He politely listened as I outlined the ideas which formed the backbone of my conservative “ideology,” expressing opposition to the growing size and increasing scope of government at all levels and articulating my trust in individuals — and the associations we freely enter — to set their own courses, my belief that entrepreneurs (and artists) are a necessary creative force in our society and a conviction that they should be left alone to provide the goods and services we needed. When we give them the freedom to experiment, produce and market their ideas, we are all the better for it.
I could not (yet) convince Mito of the merits of my political philosophy, but I did get him to listen. I could tell from his facial expressions that he was truly interested in my response. And that is one reason I endorsed him. He does not harbor an ineradicable animus against right-wingers, just has, like many of our gay peers, a limited understanding of his (presumed) ideological adversaries.
It is important that we gay conservatives bear that in mind. Many of those ideological adversaries do have open minds. We may not be able to convince such folk to change their political affiliation, but we may at least be able to persuade them them of the sincerity of our own conservative convictions.
*(many, but also not all)