Just when you assumed gay self-loathing had been deposited in the dead-chicken bins, along comes a new wave of self-flagellation aimed to throw us under the hate truck. At a time when gays have made significant progress and other people are fully available to do all the hating, some gays crazily want to join in!
I’m talking about the wave of gay Republicans who grovel before the enemy, making lavish excuses for politically repellent candidates—you know, the Romney/Ryan ticket—who would gladly turn us into a subordinate class without any semblance of full equality. There’s no one more self-loathing than the oxymoronic “grubs” (gay Repubs) who rally to the defense of power-crazed bigots, spinning them as champions of decency and fairness who happen to be grossly misunderstood. No, wait, that’s nothing new. For 30 years, there have been Log Cabin Republicans, though they at least try to work within the system to change the party’s attitudes and have managed some good deeds here and there. But the pip-squeaks over at the more conservative group GOProud—who spun off from the Log Cabins—have only been organized since 2009, so their pigheaded attempts to sell us down the river still have a rank newness.
This is the organization that decided Paul Ryan was “a bold and inspired pick,” a guy who can lead us back on “the road to fiscal solvency.” (Oh, good! He can get us out of the mess set up by the last Republican administration.) They also cite his vote in favor of ENDA five years ago (though right before that, he’d joined a movement to kill it), as well as a couple of other gestures, completely leaving out his votes against hate crime protection and same-sex adoption and in favor of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and Defense of Marriage. This intently selective representation of someone who could shatter lives is like a paint-by-numbers portrait that leaves out the swastika. “Paul Ryan opposes discrimination against gay Americans,” lied GOProud, shamelessly. And James Holmes is a patron of the arts!
Blogger Joe Jervis, from Joe. My. God, tells me: “There have always been people happy to sell out their own community in order to fill their pockets. The rise of GOProud, whose leaders are regularly trotted out by the media as circus curiosities (‘antigay GAYS!’), was merely enabled by the Internet and by the unending content-starved 24/7 news cycle. GOProud and their ilk ghoulishly denounce the ‘homo-fascist left’ while enjoying the rights and privileges hard won by the literal blood and tears of their brothers.”
Says Dan Avery from the gay site queerty.com, “I used to think it was noble for gays to try and work within the Republican party, but after more than a decade of GOP attacks on the LGBT community, I can’t help but feel they’re sadists.” With an unhealthy dose of masochism thrown in, I’m sure.
To Thine Own Self, Be Truly Self-Loathing
The increased presence of GOShame—I mean GOProud—comes at a time when other forms of self-loathing keep manifesting themselves, even as we enter a larger arena of visibility and respect. Some of us are putting one another on the back of the bus, even as the sands of time are spelling “Come forward, people!” Sex apps have brought back a return to hollow obsessiveness, many times complete with internal biases (“No fats or fems”) but sans precautions. The “don’t dress up too outrageously and ruin it for us” argument still gets bandied about by uptight partiers. And the celebrity closet has changed its borders without fully foreclosing and moving far, far away.
Even the gays who come out nowadays only do so in a quick sentence rather than make their sexuality a headline. It’s a little bit underwhelming, but at least they’ve come forward. Far less helpful to the cause are the “travolting” types who have no problem massaging old prejudices by staying completely silent except for furious claims of “Smear!”
In this environment, maybe it’s not surprising that the Logo channel is aiming for less sexuality-defined programming, because gays supposedly don’t want a home base for just gay shows anymore. Is this really progress or a big step backward masquerading as assimilation? I don’t know, but when BET starts running Three’s Company reruns because “that’s what black people want to see,” please let me know.
Meanwhile, a lot of twinks hate bears who hate muscle queens who hate lesbians who hate twinks. The early days of AIDS activism were terrifying, but we were all united in the fight, a real community brought together in the face of possible extinction. Today’s relative complacence has stirred up way too much niche-based condescension and divisive drama queenery.
Yes, old habits die hard, but what you’re also seeing is a reaction against progress; we want to go along with the flow, but we occasionally self-sabotage so we don’t get there too quickly. Besides, despite all the advances, gay rights are still up for debate, so you get conditioned to think you’re a second-class citizen and unwittingly fuel that with your own prideless antics. In that kind of mind-set, you might even think Ryan is your hero!
Of course, I have serious self-loathing jags myself, but I was raised in the 1960s, and besides, I’m working the shit out. But if you’re young and grew up with Will & Grace and/or Lady Gaga, you have no excuse. Stop hating on yourself and start hating on the haters again. And don’t think Romney/Ryan are your best friends, no matter what other gays might say.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 29, 2012