The average gay Republican is a self-hating, traitorous troll with acceptance issues who would sell out his or her own people to curry favor with a party that is actively working to deny them equal rights. Well, at least that's the picture that is painted of them by most of the LGBT-rights movement on the left, but is it really true, or is there something else at play here that makes so many gay liberals so deeply uncomfortable with their gay brethren who are choosing to make their home on the right?
Of the many memes that made their way into the Twittersphere during the Republican National Convention, the #negrospotting hashtag, designed to spot the black folks at the RNC, struck me as a bit awkward. Of course, the joke was designed to spotlight the lack of diversity within the GOP, but it also carried a subtext that questioned what kind of self-respecting black person would be a part of the Republican Party. Obviously, the Republican Party hates them, that subtext goes. Obviously, there is no place for them there. Obviously, the only place for them is with the Democrats. There, it's home. It's comfortable. It's safe.
I bring up the #negrospotting meme because it revealed an uncomfortable truth about the Democratic base: that diversity in pretty much all ways is supported if said "diverse" person knows his or her place. Dare to step outside what is expected of you, and you will be ridiculed. This is the game that we play with gay Republicans.
The truth is that as a community, we ridicule gay Republicans at every turn. We wonder how they reconcile their sexual orientation with supporting a party that is quite obviously contemptuous of it; we chuckle at every awkwardly worded press release sent out by the Log Cabin Republicans or GOProud after the GOP takes yet another draconian, anti-marriage-equality stance; and we use terms like "self-hater" or "sellout" to demonize those in our community who have decided to take a political route that is outside the norm.
It remains deeply unfortunate that for anyone who isn't a heterosexual white male, the choice between political parties remains such a stark one, but the idea that it is only they who have true freedom of choice is downright offensive, and that's the idea that we put across when we ridicule and demonize gay Republicans. Are we afraid of them because it's possible that they are what we could become? Is it so farfetched to imagine an exodus of wealthy, well-heeled gays to the Republican side of the aisle once the battle for marriage equality reaches its inevitable conclusion? I don't think so. In fact, I think that could very well be where the more influential and privileged among us are headed.
Maybe in that future, where marriage equality is law and the Republicans wise up about what a dying wedge issue LGBT rights are becoming every day, there will be more of a choice between the parties for gays. Maybe that contrast will be a bit less stark. And maybe if that exodus of gays from the Democratic Party does come and that shift happens, today's gay Republicans will wonder what took the rest of us so long.
That's real talk.
Real Talk is a biweekly column focusing on politics, pop culture, and lifestyle from a gay perspective. Rob Smith is an LGBT activist, writer, lecturer, and proud provocateur living in New York City. Find him at robsmithonline.com.