Thursday, December 01, 2005

Dialogue With Gay Conservatives -- Part 1

I'm the sort of person who makes a point of reading and listening to those with whose opinions I know I will probably disagree. Hardly any conservatives seem to do this, and all too few liberals bother to, either. But you can learn very little when you live in an echo-chamber. I fail to understand how someone even knows what he or she really believes without making the effort to hear both sides of every argument. Liberals can only refute Right-Wing propaganda by recognizing where it's coming from and understanding what it's trying to say.

Gay conservatives are a minority within a minority. They pretty much get dumped-on by everybody. Having lived in red-state Arizona all my life, there has been no way for me to avoid meeting and talking with conservatives of every stripe. I probably know more gay Republicans than I do straight ones. Though I heartily disagree with their point of view for the most part, I am one of those rare gay liberals who actually understands and respects it.

One of their most-frequent mantras is that gay people have the right to believe whatever makes the most sense to them -- just as straight people do. And who could disagree with such a no-brainer? One of the most annoying things about being gay is that everybody's always telling us what we can and can not think. As a gay Christian, I well understand the frustration of being flogged -- both by straight believers and gay non-believers -- for daring to embrace the seeming paradox of out-and-proud homosexuality and Christian faith. So I find the defensive (I would go as far as to say belligerent) stance of the average Log Cabin type very easy to relate to.

It's not that I think my gay brothers and sisters shouldn't follow their convictions wherever they lead them. The problem, for me, is that I simply don't agree with modern, Right-Wing Republican dogma. I would still be a Democrat, even if I were straight. And as much as my Log Cabin friends resent being told they "must" be liberal Democrats to be loyal to "the community," I resent being told that I'm such a zombie I'm incapable of coming to liberal conclusions on my own and for their own sake. Over the years, I've had to tell more than a few gay Republicans to put THAT in their pipes and smoke it.

Let us, once and for all, just put aside any notion that our individual condition in life must dictate our political persuasion. You will never hear me say that every sexual minority must toe the Democratic party-line, either in this Blog or anywhere else. And henceforth, if I hear anybody suggest anything to the contrary, I will know that I am dealing with either a liar or a fool.

Are a great many gay liberals mean and spiteful people? (This, too, is a common gay conservative claim.) Again, how could I deny it? There are nasty characters in every segment of humanity. If I were a gay Right-Winger, I do believe I'd be a little more careful about assigning angel status to everybody with whom I happened to agree.

Every barrel has its share of bad apples. Just watch out if you think it gives you license to disqualify whatever those in a different "barrel" believe. You think there are no scoundrels among the Republican ranks? Hah! -- I say -- and double hah! Unlike your average Right-Wing GLBT'er, I would never have the temerity to suggest that everybody who shares my opinions is a saint.

One of the few points gay conservatives do score, in my view, is on the issue of how human rights, in general, ought to be protected and defended. In forcing minorities of every sort to be dependent upon the whim of the majority, the Left has done us a huge disservice. Why must we win a popularity-contest in order to secure the protection of our most basic rights as citizens? Only by returning to the rock-solid truth that human beings derive our rights not from the particulars that divide us, but rather, from the universals we all share, will our rights really be safeguarded. I don't have "special" rights because I am a woman or because I am a lesbian -- I have sacred, non-negotiable and unalienable rights because I am a human being.

Another area of agreement between myself and conservative gays is that society must return to a more decent standard of behavior. Like them, I feel the standard should be exactly the same for gays as it is for straights -- but that this standard must be one in which the bar is set significantly higher than it has been in the recent past. Gays who feel, for example, that marriage is "too straight" should be perfectly free to refrain from getting married themselves. But they should not play into the hands of the bigots who would relegate us to second-class status by keeping those of us who wish to marry for love from so doing. I also share the embarrassment and revulsion so many gay conservatives feel at the self-indulgent antics of many in our community, and heartily resent the fact that the news media finds the more "normal" among us too boring to merit their attention.

My over-forty years of life as an unpopular and relatively-powerless minority renders me unable, however, to fathom the desire of so many conservative gays to belong to a party that doesn't want us, doesn't know what the hell to do with us and wishes we would leave. Gay Republicans are an embarrassment to the GOP, the same way gay Christians are an embarrassment to the Church. Why? Well, because we give lie to their propaganda. We aren't whiny, "poor-little-me" reprobates, content to wallow in self-pity and victimhood and live lives stuck in never-ending adolescent rebellion.

Why do they want to belong to a party that lies about them? Sure, they claim they want to change the hearts and minds of straight Republicans, just as I want to help change those of straight Christians. And I suppose they could ask me why I want to belong to a Church that doesn't seem too keen on welcoming me. I will give you a very simple and basic reason why being a gay Christian is so different from being a gay Republican. Jesus Christ promised the Church that the Holy Spirit would abide with it 'til the end of time -- but to the Republican Party, He made no such promise.

The Christian Church is an institution at once both human and divine. The hearts and minds of good straight Christians are indeed changing, even if it isn't happening as rapidly as we might wish. The Republican Party, however, is a strictly human institution. I have far less faith that the greed, selfishness and all-around knavery that now governs it can ever be rooted out. Right now it rules the country, but for this power it has sold its soul.

It's an integrity thing. Why would any right-thinking person want to belong to a party that denies the very existence of some of its own members? The very truth of our being is something they would sweep under the rug. And why be a member of an organization that is hostile to your every effort to live a decent and happy life? I must confess that I simply don't get it.

There are, of course, many other reasons why I am a Democrat and a liberal instead of a Republican and a conservative. I will continue to discuss them in my "Why I Am A Liberal" posts. Suffice it to say, for today, that a political party that tries to deny the very existence of certain human beings holds no attraction for me. Especially when I am one of the human beings it wishes out of existence. If you force me to oppose you as a matter of my own survival, I don't think it ought to be too hard to figure out what I'm going to do. The Republican Party is doing all it can to ruin our lives -- and that is hardly a platform for which I intend to sign up.


At 3:31 PM, Blogger M Elizabeth HD said...

My Dad always listened to the other side, no matter what the cause or opinion. When the Jehovah's Witnesses knocked on the door, he would invite them to sit for a chat on the front porch. His only "demand" was that he get equal time to express his own views. If we don't listen to people with whom we disagree, how will we really know their true selves? I can't rely on continual interpretation of the other side's viewpoints - some things are better heard for oneself.

At 3:31 PM, Blogger M Elizabeth HD said...

Oh, and Blogger required me to set up an account before I could comment! MB

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