There is, of course, the old canard that a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged. Just from my personal experience, though, I know that staring into the barrel of a handgun while someone threatened to blow my head off if I didn’t hand over my wallet didn’t exactly push me toward favoring the policies of the National Rifle Association.
I am, in truth, a middle-of-the-road liberal who was — once upon a time — a conservative. This was in high school, when Ronald Reagan was in the White House, the Soviets were in eastern Europe and I was in the closet. I was a Reaganite because that’s what all the cool kids were doing.
Obviously, mid-’80s Kentucky cool kids weren’t quite the same as the cool kids on the coasts.
Oddly enough, it was my four years in a very conservative southern college — Washington & Lee University, where the only group that outnumbered the fraternities was the College Republicans — that started my major shift towards being a liberal. Just as in the common right-wing nightmare of higher education, I matriculated as a solid, midwestern conservative and I graduated as a radical, east coast homosexual activist.
This being Washington, though, I wasn’t in town long before I began running into those objects of much scorn and loathing: gay Republicans. I interviewed Rich Tafel, then executive director for the Log Cabin Republicans, for Metro Weekly and, being a good little freelancer, also tried to sell the story to some religious and political magazines. Turns out a gay Republican was too gay for the right and Republican for the left and I couldn’t get anyone to bite. The whole idea of ”gay conservative” was considered oxymoronic.
In many ways, it still is. Rolling one’s eyes at the mention of gay Republicans is pretty much de rigeur among large segments of the LGBT community. I’ll admit to doing it myself at times, although in my defense, I roll my eyes at just about everything these days.
It’s not an entirely fair reaction. There is value in creating space for LGBT people in both major political parties — not only would we benefit from not having all our political eggs in a Democratic basket, it would also allow for the fact that there is, in fact, a diversity of political opinion even within our community.
Log Cabin Republicans rode the news cycles late last year with their successful lawsuit to end ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Today, it’s GOProud rattling cages (and social conservative nerves) by again co-sponsoring CPAC.
If you’re a liberal or progressive, GOProud, with its theatrical politics courtesy of Chris Barron and Jimmy LaSalvia, will gleefully drive you up the wall with their political positions, from die-hard support of former Vice President Dick Cheney to launching a campaign to defeat gay political icon Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) to headlining a fundraiser with Ann Coulter, a woman unafraid to shout ”faggot” for attention.
But, in its own way, that’s fine. As crazy as GOProud may drive me, they drive parts of the right wing even crazier. And I’m willing to indulge myself in a little eye-rolling if I also get to see gay hating activists pitch a hissy fit.
Sean Bugg is co-publisher of Metro Weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com.