Can I borrow a match? I need to light this article on fire.

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It’s funny. My interest in USAmerican politics is fairly new. For most of my adult life, I did not care about anything political. My knowledge of the political world extended to successfully answering the question “Who is the current President” and, during presidential elections, “Who are you going to vote for”. The answer to the latter question was always “whoever is running as a Democrat”. That’s because I, like many people, unthinkingly followed in the political footsteps of my parents. But for all that I knew next to nothing about politics, I did know about the Log Cabin Republicans. I didn’t know much about them, but I knew they were an organization of gay people who were Republicans. And even though I didn’t know much about Republican politics, I knew the leaders of that party typically opposed rights for gay people. So I couldn’t understand why any gay person would claim Republican Party membership. Why would members of an oppressed class belong to a political party that exacerbates the oppression of that class?

Fast forward a couple of decades and my understanding of politics has deepened quite a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t live in the world of politics, but I know quite a bit more now than I did when I was younger. And  I recognize the negative impact of Republican ideas on people in this country. I see the way the people are made to suffer bc of conservative ideology. And that sickens me. No, this realization doesn’t mean I embrace the Democratic Party. In fat, I think the Democrats are all too happy to maintain the status quo. And that status quo is sexist, racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, ableist, neurotypical, and classist. Yes, Democrats occasionally support measures that would improve the quality of life of USAmericans, but by and large, I get the impression most Dems don’t want things to change, whether for the better or for the worse. Contrast that against the Republicans, who aren’t content to retain the status quo. No, they want things to regress to an earlier time. Donald Trump’s mantra of “Make America great again” is almost the unspoken mantra of the GOP. This notion that the country would be better off if things could return to an earlier unstated, yet ostensibly glorious time, is part and parcel in the beliefs of a great many Republicans. An earlier time, like the good old days when LGBT people could be arrested for simply existing. When blacks and white had to use separate water fountains. When women could not legally obtain an abortion. Too many Republicans see those days as the glory days of this country, and they are fighting to return to those times. And because of that, I view the GOP and their supporters (hey there Log Cabin Republicans) as a greater destructive force than the Democrats. That includes LGBT people like Pride writer Basil Soper who elide the harms caused by the GOP bc he feels unity is more important than criticizing harmful beliefs.

While being a part of the LGBT community is challenging enough, being a queer person who is also a Republican presents its own unique set of challenges. Just ask Caitlyn Jenner (probably the most visible conservative, LGBT face in media, right now).  A few months ago, during a speaking engagement, Caitlyn told students at the University of Pennsylvania, “I have gotten more flak for being a conservative Republican than I have for being trans.” In the season-two premiere of her E! docu-series I Am Cait, Caitlyn defended her Republican beliefs, and she recently created a viral video using the women’s restroom at Trump Tower in New York City after Ted Cruz came out against bathroom bills that would let trans people use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identities.

Oh yes, poor Caitlyn Jenner. Instead of being criticized for her gender identity like bigots are wont to do, she is being criticized for her conservative views, as tends to happen when you voice your views in public. Now, I can understand why she  expected more criticism about being a trans woman, bc our society is rife with transphobia. And certainly, there have been plenty of attacks on her gender identity (all of which are completely vile, btw. You don’t criticize someone’s identity. Immutable characteristics like race, sexuality, or gender are not grounds for criticism). When people engage in such critiques, they are basically denying the right of others to exist. And that is unconscionable. What is open to criticism are the beliefs an individual holds. In Jenner’s case, she is a conservative, who thinks a President Trump would be good for women (he wouldn’t, he’s a misogynistic asshole), that Republicans are not anti-LGBT, and wants to be the trans ambassador for Ted “The Bigot” Cruz. Those are views that are open to criticism. Moreover, because these views don’t exist in a vacuum-they have a real world impact-I believe they *should* be criticized. We’re not talking about the belief that TCBY frozen yogurt is better than Baskin Robbins ice cream. We’re not advocating for authentic Mexican food vs Taco Bell. We’re talking about denying realities such as Donald Trump’s well documented misogyny and anti-LGBT laws out of Mississippi and North Carolina. Holding these beliefs however, does not justify criticism of Jenner by members of the LGBT community. At least not in the eyes of Soper:

Unsurprisingly, social media users and many people within the LGBT community have taken her statements and actions as an opportunity to express their outrage and disgust towards Caitlyn and her political beliefs.

Hey everyone! I know that Caitlyn Jenner is a member of a political party that wants to turn back the clock on rights for gay people, women, and African-Americans, and I know her party of choice claims to be proponents of small government, but want to regulate uteri and genitals, but so what? Being a member of a party that holds such views, and advocating for that party doesn’t mean anything compared to ::gasp:: expressing outrage over those political beliefs. Heaven forbid LGBT people criticize others in the community. Nope. When we’re out having a gay old Sunday brunch and one of our friends says black people are thugs or women who have abortions are really just sluts who just want to fuck whomever they want, we shouldn’t say a thing. Instead, we should just chug our Mimosas. Maybe throw in a shot or two of Patron. Or, in my case, if I’m not allowed to say anything, I give the evil glare of doom, while politely excusing myself from the table and getting the fuck out of there before I verbally eviscerate the asshole who makes such statements. Because I’m under no obligation to hold my tongue, and if someone is going to open their mouth around me and make disparaging, bigoted comments like that, they’d better be prepared to get a mouthful in response. And I’m not going to hold back because of any shared affiliation in a marginalized group. But apparently if I were to do so, I’d be causing divisiveness in the queer community:

This type of separation in the LGBT community isn’t uncommon. When one hears, “LGBT Republican” or “Gay Republican,” all types of assumptions come to mind. Usually, one treats the notion of being gay and conservative as if you are a mythological creature or a person who is committing an act of treason, and because of these stereotypes, many queer Republicans are rejected from their own community.

Back when I was a political newbie all those years ago, yeah, I’d have thought gay Republicans were damn near mythological creatures. Today? Not so much. I’ve met more than a few conservative gay people. Conservative ideology doesn’t end where LGBT identity begins. Our identities are far more complex than that, even if we hold seemingly contradictory ideas in our head like “I’m a lesbian and deserve equality” at the same time that we also think “Ted Cruz is a great presidential candidate”. Cognitive dissonance and all that. As for those who are queer and conservative? Soper seems to think they shouldn’t be ostracized. No matter that conservative ideology holds that women are walking incubators without bodily autonomy, that gay people are sinners undeserving of the right to marry, or that trans women are really just men who want to prey upon women and girls in the restroom. What matters is that being ostracized is totes the worst thing in the world. You thought it was worse to be denied rights? Pssh. Being made to feel like an outsider is just TEH BADZ!

Now, if this were another context, I wouldn’t make light of being ostracized. Being social creatures, it can often be rough on us humans to be made to feel like the outsider. To be friendless, to be alone and not by choice, to think that no one wants you around? That can be tough (certainly some people don’t mind it, but many others do). I don’t mean to deny the frustration many people feel by being shunned. But when the context is shunning people who hold harmful views? That’s a different story. Because the views you hold reflect your opinions of others. If you think Black people are thugs, that says something about biases you hold against African-Americans. Do you hold the opinion that homeless people are social detritus? That shows how much compassion you have for the people around you who are less fortunate. And if you think terrorist when you hear Muslim, then you’re an anti-Muslim bigot. When the context of shunning is associate with someone who holds hateful or bigoted views vs have nothing to do with a person who holds hateful or harmful views, personally, I don’t have a problem with shunning. I think shunning is a perfectly reasonable response. Obviously, that’s up to the individual. Some people might shun associates or friends over one or two vile opinions. Others might not, choosing instead of keep someone in their life, but at arms length, perhaps. Or keep them in their life, hoping to have a positive influence on their opinions. Still others might not be in a position to ostracize people with such views (think of family members you have that shunning would be difficult). I’m not arguing that anyone must reject the people in their lives who hold bigoted opinions. I’m just saying it is well within the right of an individual to decide to do so, contrary to the author of the article.

Moving on, Soper says:

Exiling LGBT Republicans is counterintuitive and hypocritical.

The LGBT community (and its ideology of acceptance) is represented by the rainbow flag which is designed to epitomize the diversity in the community, but how can the LGBT population ask for acceptance, when they aren’t willing to tolerate members of their own community based on a difference of political opinion?

At this point, as I was reading this article, I was just Over. It. At no point does Soper actually engage with the criticisms conservative LGBT people face. He just elides those criticisms completely (as seen in the facile comment about “difference of political opinion” as if conservative beliefs don’t have implications). Probably bc his argument would be significantly undermined if he actually mentioned *why* many people in the LGBT community don’t tolerate conservative opinions. This whole piece is nothing more than another spin on the conservative faux argument “you’re intolerant of my intolerance and that makes you just as bigoted as you say I am”. That’s bullshit because it treats opposition to bigoted views as equibad as holding bigoted views. Because the fact that I don’t have time for conservative bullshit like “we need Voter ID laws” means I’m a bigot. Oh wait, no it doesn’t. My “intolerance” isn’t used to discriminate against people. The conservatives who support Voter ID laws, OTOH, are supporting laws that disenfranchise People of Color, college students, the elderly, and more. In short, even if condemning the hateful views of others makes one intolerant, we’re talking about two very different levels of intolerance.

Soper apparently decided his uncritical, simplistic article needed a further infusion of nonsense, which resulted in this:

Aside from all of the hypocrisy in “calling out” LGBT Republicans, what feels most concerning and alarming is how the segregation between the left/right and gay/straight communities creates a political affiliation around sexual and gender identity. Political slants really shouldn’t have anything to do with how a person identifies sexually or in their gender presentation.

That’s right. Political slants shouldn’t have anything to do with a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. And they don’t. As mentioned above, there are conservative LGBT people, as well as liberals. There are libertarian ones as well as progressives. We don’t all reside on one end of the political spectrum and this author doesn’t acknowledge that. Moreover, he also doesn’t acknowledge that the GOP has assigned a political slant associated with sexual orientation or gender identity. And that slant is decidedly anti. And it has been that way for decades, bc the GOP has demeaned, denigrated, and demonized LGBT people as part of their crusade to oppose any progress for our community.

He closes the article with this:

Being LGBT and a Republican truly does have merit. LGBT people have accomplished so much throughout history and I think if we allowed other LGBT folks to bleed into the right, we could see further change. Some hot-button issues like the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, trans rights, and protection for LGBT youth (particularly the homeless) still need tending to, and if we had voices on both sides of the political spectrum advocating for these issues, we could get legislation passed faster. Society needs to stop demonizing and abusing LGBT people due to their political slants and instead engage with one another through healthy conversation that leads to societal fairness for everyone.

I had to resist the urge to be glib and only copy/paste that first sentence with the one-line response “no, it doesn’t”. I do feel that way, of course, bc the Republican Party is 100% opposed to treating LGBT people as human beings with the same rights and access to services as heterosexual, cisgender people. And that’s only focusing on the intersection of conservative ideology and the struggle for LGBT rights. At every turn, the Grand Old Party stands in opposition to efforts that would benefit LGBT people or reduce suffering. They don’t just hit one aspect of our identities. No, they hit multiple ones. For transgender Hispanic immigrants, the GOP opposes their efforts to become citizens. For bisexual, poor people, the GOP opposes public assistance. For non-binary college students looking to vote, the Republican Party opposes that too.  The Grand Old Party is not interested in furthering the rights of the queer community. Even if every liberal and progressive in the LGBT community suddenly stopped being So. Mean. to conservatives in our midst, and even if those conservatives went out into the Republican Party to speak in favor of LGBT rights, nothing is going to change. The GOP does not support rights for the people in our community. They don’t give a shit about us. And the sooner they stop having support in this country, the sooner that damnable party can die off. Instead of LGBT people being nicer to the conservatives in our community, said conservatives need to abandon their party. Progress for the queer community-as well as any other oppressed group-is not to be found on the right. That way lies prejudice, oppression, and a regression of social advances for our community. And no amount of unity in the queer community nor any amount of brotherhood with our fellow conservative queers is going to change that.

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Can I borrow a match? I need to light this article on fire.

  1. 2

    I have a box of matches, a lighter, and a self-lighting gas stove to loan you. Take your pick.

    On reflection, though, I can’t think of any major group that’s better off voting Republican. Women, minorities (racial, ethnic, sexual, religious, etc), and poor people are clearly voting against their own interests when they vote Republican*. White men? I’m thoroughly convinced that working class and middle class white men will be the first to be stabbed in the back in a Trump presidency**. Even if Trump stays true to his promises, he’s promising tax breaks for the rich, which means fewer services for the poor and middle class, including white men, and a wall which is going to be about as useful as the Maginot line and as damaging to the economy as well. They’ll get nothing out of a Trump presidency except unemployment and crumbling infrastructure. And that’s if he doesn’t decide to do something even more crazy.

    So, rich, cis, het, white, Christian men? Nope. A crashing economy will destroy their wealth or at least take away their ability to increase their wealth. Poorly educated workers will mean that their production will be inefficient and error prone. Lack of funding for the NIH will mean that even their ability to pay cash for an ICU stay won’t save their lives when they get pancreatic cancer or COPD. They’ll die young and unnecessarily just like everyone else.

    Oh, that’s not even counting Trump’s plans to nuke whoever. Or even getting into what would happen if it were someone else, say, Cruz, who won.

    No, it’s simply not in anyone’s interests to vote Republican. Not right now anyway. But it’s so blatantly not in the interests of anyone who is LGBT that I can’t understand what any of them are thinking.

    *The occasional exception may apply, mostly on a local level in places where there is a heavy duty Democratic “machine” controlling local politics. For example, one could justify voting Bloomberg for NYC mayor, even when he was running as an R. But on the national level, especially for president and senate, the exceptions are extraordinarily few and far between.
    **Muslims, Hispanics, women, etc will be stabbed prior to this, but it will be an expected, even promised, frontal attack, not a stab in the back from a supposed ally.

  2. 3

    Wow, that article was terrible!

    Just another tired variation of the “you’re being so divisive!” whine. Always applied to the people speaking out against bigotry, but of course, not applied to the actual bigots who want to do the dividing.

    Light it up.

  3. 4

    But for wealthy white cisgays, the GOP stands for them not having to pay for a reasonable share of taxes. (Every gay Republican I’ve met or am aware of except for Caitlyn Jenner meets this description.)

  4. 5

    One thing I had to consistently remind myself of in this article is that cognitive dissonance is powerful. Soper is a trans man. I kept wanting to say “how can a transgender man support the Republican Party like this, given everything they’ve done to LGBT people in general and trans people specifically?” I had to keep reminding myself that just bc he is defending the GOP (by way of saying “don’t criticize LGBT conservatives”) doesn’t mean anything other than his brain has found a way to rationalize the bigotry of the GOP. I don’t know what leaps and hurdles has to go on in the mind of an LGBT conservative to justify retaining their conservative beliefs, but they must be powerful indeed.

  5. 6

    @Daniel
    AFAIK that’s Jenner’s principal reason too.

    @Tony
    What tends to really aggravate me is why relatively non-bigoted people go through those mental flips: because they believe that somehow despite being wrong on every other topic, conservatives are somehow right on economic matters. Fiscal conservatives drive me up the wall.

  6. 7

    @6: “Fiscal conservatives” have been demonstrated to be FOS. The economy does better under “liberal” government. Consider medical costs in Medicaid expansion states versus non-expansion states. Or the economy in Wisconsin versus Minnesota. Or the US economy under Bush versus Obama. Or any number of other examples. The fiscally responsible thing to do is to vote Democratic. Okay, I’m done with the off topic rant now. It’s just that the “fiscal conservatives help the economy” thing is exactly the sort of counterfactual that annoys me.

  7. Lii
    8

    Hi Tony, and hi everyone! I’m writing from Argentina. Some of you may be aware that the last presidential elections here were won by a Trump-like candidate, Mauricio Macri: an extremely rich bussinesman, advancing libertarian economical policies, with regressive far right views regarding every social issue you can imagine. It has been awful this far, with more than 140.000 people loosing their jobs in just these first 5 months, tax increases of up to 200% in basic services like electricity and public transport, and on and on and on…

    I bring this up because of Dianne’s comment at #2: most of the people that voted for Macri is low and middle class people, people who would very obviously suffer from the policies he was proposing, and yet elected him anyway… So it’s really quite impressive how cognitive dissonance works (though here cognitive dissonance had a HUGE help from the mass media). One can only wonder what brings people to vote against their own interests, and what is it that they find more important in making up their minds…

    Anyways, sorry for the very clumsy english. I’ll be hanging out at the Pub more often 🙂

  8. 9

    Hi Lii,
    Glad to you have you as a reader (and I didn’t see a thing wrong with your English). If you haven’t checked it out, several of the blog regulars like to hang out in the Speakeasy, an off-topic social thread for people to chat about whatever they want, whenever they want. We share recipes, talk about work, discuss stress, share happiness, discuss kids, ask for advice, talk about books, share links, stuff like that. Everyone is welcome. No amount of commenting is necessary (some people don’t comment, they just follow along). Again, glad to have you reading!

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