Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Love Being Right, or Why Gays Need the Right

Previously, in response to the absurd "scandal" about one of the founders of the gay sex site Manhunt being a McCain donor, I posted a screed about how we gays need to get over our kneejerk liberalism. The Los Angeles Times just ran a smart, even-handed piece by James Kirchick of The New Republic on just this issue.

This line really stuck out for me: "labeling everyone with whom [gay activists] don't agree a 'bigot' does not help the worthy cause of gay equality." I was reminded of the night I went on a bar crawl with fellow Obama supporters in the Gayborhood just before the April 22 primary here in Pennsylvania. We handed out literature and stickers and buttons, talked with people who were curious or had questions, and generally just put a gay face on the Obama campaign, as it were. On the whole, it was a great experience, but the things that some gays and lesbians we talked to that night believed about Obama were frightening. Many people were convinced he was anti-gay. The Donnie McClurkin incident seemed to have done a lot of damage - never mind that under Bill Clinton, husband of the woman most people we talked to that night supported and supposedly a hero of gays, we got Don't Ask Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act. Most had no idea that Obama's stance on LGBT issues was actually slightly more progressive than Hillary Clinton's. One (rather drunk) Hillary supporter got into a screaming fight with one of us, accusing all of us who were out supporting Obama of being homophobic. And she wasn't the only one.

So I think that experience (and keep in mind, we were out there in support of another Democrat - can you imagine what would have happened if we were McCain supporters?) gave me a greater awareness of our community's tendency to excommunicate anyone with whom we don't agree. We do this to our inestimable detriment. As Kirchick points out, Democrats alone have not been able to move this country forward on gay issues. Like it or not, we need Republicans.