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Out of the closet and into the Log Cabin

By Larry Womack

About a million gay votes went to George W. Bush in 2000. Frankly, I don’t think that it’s absurd of me to ask: What the hell is wrong with these people? Did they think that they were voting for someone more moderate on gay issues? Like Pat Buchanan?

Bush refused to meet with them, or even take their donations, then reversed course, then flip-flopped again. He’s finally convinced the Log Cabin — a group of gay Republicans apparently named after the closet they locked Mary Todd Lincoln in — that he’s not going for the title of “tolerance president.”


They’ve been meeting in Palm Springs (where else?) to decide whether to endorse the president for re-election. It seems doubtful that they will. They might actually be catching on.

That’s quite a shock. How exactly does one weigh the pros and cons of becoming a gay Republican? “Well, I’m opposed to the institutionalized marginalization of myself, but I’m in favor of drilling Alaska.” Or, “I dislike laws that make it illegal for me to have sex, but that upper-income tax break looks pretty tempting.” And then there’s my favorite: “Sure, I’d like to get married, but I think I’d rather be able to buy a gun without a background check.”

It’s all too tempting to classify gay Republicans, the most extreme example of the political masochist, as self-loathing or simply irrational, given the prominent examples we have. But is it fair? I’m beginning to think so.

Michael Huffington, for instance, insists that he’s “homosexual, but not gay.” Sure, he likes to have sex with men, but he’s not happy about it or anything.

And then there’s Matt Drudge. Drudge, who outed Jeffrey Koffman and has made a mission of exposing the lurid details of other people’s sex lives, is widely reported to be gay (and — watch out boys — an incredibly uptight lay). He seemed to confirm both rumors at once by saying that a biographer “never said there was sex [with men]; she said there was dating."

Always a writer first, (and apparently to make up for the chill in the bedroom) Drudge allegedly left a trail of love letters to old suitors. Even more shocking is that none are said to have contained false allegations that they had an affair with an intern. Then again, the book could be wrong. David Cohen, who claims to be Drudge’s former beau, said that an attention-starved Drudge, “Loved to do wild, provocative things to draw attention to himself.” Now, that doesn’t sound like the Matt Drudge we know …

When pressed about the issue, Drudge treats it like an attempt to distract from his true political beliefs. And, normally, I’d say that it is. But coming from him, it’s a little (pardon the expression) hard to swallow. This is, after all, the man who brought Monica Lewinsky into the public discourse.

“I am a conservative,” Drudge explained, very similar to the way I mockingly did just paragraphs ago, to the Miami New Times. “I'm very much pro-life. If you go down the list of what makes up a conservative, I'm there almost all the way. So just because I like Junior Vasquez doesn't mean I can't believe this country was built on life, not on a death culture."

By the way, if you’re trying to argue that you’re not gay, Junior Vasquez is as helpful a reference to drop as, say, anal douching or some “really great leather bar on Castro.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to have the Drudge Report. He’s covered many stories (both true and fabricated) that otherwise wouldn’t have seen public attention. I have also defended him many a time to people who would have had him censored. But he’s also clearly biased, and right wing.

Gay or not, Drudge is a fine example of a nut-job. He’s obsessed with being known — starting non-gay rumors about himself, pestering big papers to get coverage — but wants absolutely nothing “out” about his personal life. Certainly not the kind of details he’d splash across his page, anyway. Unless it’s a rumor he tried to start about himself and Laura Ingraham. He even reportedly asked the New Times that no full body photos accompany that interview. That is either one of the gayest things I’ve ever heard or one of the craziest.

So, Drudge will forgive anti-gay tendencies in candidates if they’re pro-life? Is that the logic? I could almost see things from this point of view: If you’re pro-life, you believe that life begins at conception, and that abortion is therefore murder. Bush hasn’t asked for legalized termination of homosexuals. Yet. The campaign is just kicking off, you know.

And then there’s the openly gay former editor of the New Republic, Andrew Sullivan. He recently asked on his “Daily Dish” Web site (could he have picked a gayer name?), “When will these people begin to understand that being gay is not a ‘choice’; it’s a fact of human nature?” Oh, I don’t know, Andrew. Maybe sometime after gay people stop voting for them? Although he claims to agree with Kerry more on social, environmental, and economic issues, Sullivan plans to vote for Bush again in 2004. Unless Kerry can prove before election time that he can single-handedly solve all of our problems in the Middle East. Well, the “Hillbilly Atilla” is certainly a hard act to follow in that category …

Sullivan’s on to something here, though. He just needs to continue the line of reasoning: The difference between people who are anti-gay and people who are accepting of it as part of human nature is that the anti-gay camp believes that it’s something that can be fixed. They don’t believe it’s natural. In spite of common sense, and all of the evidence of a physiological cause, they think that people somehow decide to be gay.

They think, apparently, that people get it from their high school guidance counselor, or wake up one morning and go, “Hey, I know something I haven’t tried yet!” Or, some even believe (and more shockingly, admit publicly that they believe) that people are gay to undermine the nuclear family. Apparently, 10 percent of Earth’s population, throughout world history, has lived for the sole purpose of screwing with post-World War II Republicans. Anyone who would buy any of those scenarios just isn’t dealing with a full deck.

A thought to share with Andrew Sullivan: If these Republicans lack the reason or compassion necessary to figure out that homosexuality isn’t amoral, they lack the same reason or compassion that is necessary to make other rational decisions, too. That extends to issues upon which you tend to agree.

Of course, as an Independent who just happens to vote for Republicans (including king of all republicans, George W. Bush) Sullivan doesn’t quite fit into the category I’m examining: insane gay Republicans. Sure. Huffington denies he’s gay; Sullivan denies he’s a Republican.

All taken into consideration, the most shocking thing about gay Republicans is that they must buy into the rest of the party’s ideology so strongly that they can ignore the other obvious disadvantages that a vote for a Republican candidate gives them. They believe that Republicans are deficit hawks (and, to be fair, about three of them actually are). They believe that affirmative action is discrimination. They believe in a tax system that benefits the wealthy. They believe that the death penalty is just (not Sullivan, he just votes for people who do). They believe that The Pet Shop Boys will come back in America. They believe, they believe, they believe.

On the flip side, it also makes you wonder about gay liberals out there. Are they liberals because they’ve been exposed to the reality of an imperfect America, and are therefore capable of being more compassionate and realistic? Or are they just another group of self-serving jerks that would vote Republican were it not for the single-issue difference?

After mulling over Sullivan’s question, I’ve decided that the problem isn’t gay Republicans; it’s Republicans in general. If you’ll buy into supply-side economics and income (not payroll) tax breaks to create jobs … well, maybe you’d think that people choose to be gay, or that it’s OK to vote for someone who demonizes you.

Gay people share an undeniably deep bond with conservatives, though: bitterness. Gays are bitter because the world treats them unfairly. Conservatives are bitter because the world is changing without them.

Well, I think I have a way to ease some of that unhappiness. It will help make everyone a little more comfortable with who they are, and as a result more able to relate to the problems of others. I know some very nice, successful, single gay men. And I’m willing to set the gay Republicans up. Conservatives believe that the love of a good woman can cure gay people; I can believe that the love of a good man can cure gay Republicans. Matt, Andrew, Michael, these are great guys, here! I’m willing to play matchmaker, and they’re willing to do their part to build a happier, more compassionate America.

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