Monthly Archives: May 2012

Andrew Sullivan Confuses Cowardice and Bravery

If you follow gay political news, you can’t have missed the story of the very short tenure of Richard Grenell as a spokesman for the Romney campaign. In brief — Romney announces gay spokesman, right-wing goes nuts, liberals go “hey look at all the hateful things this guy has said in public!”, new gay spokesman says literally nothing (on any topic!) for two weeks, new gay spokesman resigns.

Today, Andrew Sullivan writes about how hard it is to be a gay Republican:

It’s sometimes hard to explain to outsiders what level of principle is required to withstand the personal cost of being an out gay Republican. I’ve only ever been a gay conservative (never a Republican), and back in the 1990s, it was brutal living in the gay world and challenging liberal assumptions. I cannot imagine the social isolation of Grenell in Los Angeles today, doing what he did.

And his reward for such loyalty, sincerity and pugnacity? Vilification.

“Loyalty, sincerity, and pugnacity?” Really?

Sullivan, and most gay conservatives and/or Republicans, seem confused by the distinction between gay people and society as a whole. For example, although most gay people identify as liberal or as Democrats, our society is fairly evenly split. So while a gay Republican might feel ostracized by other gay people, they can take some comfort in knowing that about half of the country shares their political views.

But it’s the anti-gay (and usually anti-woman) views of these gay conservatives that is the most troubling. Grenell, for example, liked to tweet about how Rachel Maddow should wear a necklace, or how Callista Gingrich needs to learn her place.

These are not brave things to say. They are cowardly things to say. When you say that a lesbian woman looks like a man, you’re really saying, “I am insecure about my own gender presentation, and people who are closer to the middle of the spectrum than the ends make me feel even less secure about myself.” Talking about how much more manly you are than another gay man doesn’t make you brave. It makes you a sad, scared person who still struggles with his own internalized homophobia and lashes out at other gay men in order to feel better.

Maybe someday there will be a gay conservative who legitimately thinks that liberal financial policies are destructive, makes fact-based arguments, and fights within his own party for the dignity of all LGBT people. A person who makes a distinction between political policy and allowing people the right to live their own lives. That (still fictional!) person could be called loyal, sincere, and pugnacious.

The person Andrew Sullivan is describing? He’s just another anti-gay, anti-woman man who tries to hide his own insecurity by ingratiating himself to people who hate him.