Why Gay People Support Right-wing Candidates. The Right to Political Conscience.
I was watching a program about Donald Trump supporters and could not quite believe my eyes or even ears. There was an “obviously gay” man telling us how Trump was very good for his business. Thep interviewer seemed interested to explore the suggestion that Trump was somewhat sexist and homophobic.
The guy did not seem to be interested at all. He acknowledged that Trump had said some pretty awful things but that did not seem to sway him in any way. His argument was that there were far more important things to consider than sexual orientation and gay rights. As the interview progressed, I got angrier and angrier.
Who the hell was this guy? How dare he let down the gay community by supporting that hot mess of craziness that is Donald Trump? In my internal tantrum, I decided to reflect again on what the guy had said and my responses to it. Wasn’t I falling into the same trap that I wanted to accuse him of being…i.e. being a bigot. It really got me thinking about political speech and the right to choose.
Coming to Terms with My Prejudices
I can tell you right now that there is not a chance in a million that I would ever consider voting for Trump. My blood pressure goes up a few notches every time he is on television. I wanted to trash my set when he was on for the State of the Union. The guy was talking some real sh*t, all said with the sincerity of a car salesman. It seems inconceivable that I would ever accept to be associated with him or his fans. That is just me. I am a committed Obamaphile, although that one also let me down with his compromises…that will be another story.
But I must ask…what does freedom of speech mean? I think I was going back to my default liberal compromises of false accommodations. It was like I was happy for that guy to have his freedom of speech…but only if he said things that I found to be acceptable. I do not mind the GOP and have quite a few friends in it but there are some right-wing candidates that rub me up the wrong way. I cannot for the life of me support a candidate that rescinded the equal access provisions to bathrooms that Obama put in place. That is not even touching on economics (tax breaks for the rich) and foreign policy (fight your way to poverty).
To my mind a gay person ought to be committed to the Liberal cause. After all it was the Democratic Party that stood with us during the second pink Civil Rights era. Obama fought DOMA and he had a record number of gay people in his administration. This was the first president to refer to gay people explicitly as being part of the USA society. Surely the people in the LGBTIQ community could show come solidary and gratitude by committing to a straight up vote for the Democratic Party. We lost the last election because of complacent millennials who wanted to teach the compromise faction of the party a lesson.
Gay People Are Different and Have a Right to be Different
I just realized that it is quite possible to turn into a gay fascist once you have enough power. Here I was castigating a guy I did not know at all about his political views. How did I know if his business was more important to him than the latest gay rights cause? Needless to say my assumptions about the GOP and Democrats are not shared by some of my friends. They say that I have got it the wrong way round.
According to some of my friends, the GOP is the party whose mantra of personal freedom and responsibility will set the LGBT community free. By contrast the Liberals allegedly want to keep in the chains of dependency by balkanizing me into an oppressed minority. I do not agree with them but I can some of the points. Liberals are very good at being tolerant until it is near home. Haven’t you noticed the racial housing segregation in some of the most liberal locations in the USA? The firebrand liberals are very good until a son or daughter comes out as being gay.
Nevertheless; I am still sure that I prefer Obama to Trump any day. I think politics should have some standards that cannot be broken just to stroke the ego of a television reality star. However, I must accept that is my choice; nothing more. I cannot insist that every member of the LGBTIQ community conform to what I consider to be acceptable political thought. That is the kind of stuff that Hitler and Mussolini wanted to achieve. Human beings are complex and they are not designed to put up with Pigeonholes.
Rights and Responsibilities
This incident is a reflection of some of the conflicts that we have within the LGBTIQ community. It may be very painful for us to see one of our own supporting people we know to be enemies, but that is their right. A friend of mine says that it actually starts with the diverse experiences that we have. Believe me or not; there are gay people who do not know what it is to be really discriminated against. They may live in very loving communities that welcome them or alternatively may be too rich or too powerful to be at the mercy of bigots.
The guy that was talking about his business was many things; apart from being gay. He was a business owner and to some extent that took precedence over his orientation. According to his perspective, gay rights did not put food on the table. If Trump was going to help him do that, then by all means he was going to give him his vote. I am one of those people that are still in mourning after Hillary Clinton’s loss so these are lessons that we must carry to 2020 and beyond. We cannot take people’s votes for granted just because they happen to belong to a minority that we have championed before.
There is really no such thing as an authentic gay. We must be able to accept that there are some in our number who are not militant and prefer a quiet life. It is all part of the variety that makes the community so interesting. If we were all thinking in the same way and voting in the same way, life would be so boring. Of course we must also hold the Liberals’ feet to the fire when they say that they are fighting for us. Sometimes we let ourselves become the block vote that does not need any campaigning because we were converted long ago.
I Do a Sound-Out
Following my internal rant, I decided to sound out a straw poll with my pals. The results were quite interesting. I actually thought that about 80% of all LGBTIQ people would be Liberal in their political orientation. The results were less clear. About 56% were self-admitted Liberals (a very disappointing number for me). The ones who leaned Conservative were about 30% then the rest were just not willing to say their political orientation. I rather suspect that those who declined to participate are secret Conservatives.
Do we really make space for Conservatives with a big “C” in the LGBTIQ community? I am sure there are many corporate types who happen to be gay but want their taxes to be as low as possible. We also have something called the “Log Cabin Republicans”. It seems like a joke but in reality Trump actually won the vote of many gay people and some are still fans despite his many gaffes during the first 100 days.
I consider myself to be a fairly inclusive person. I believe that everyone of us should have the right to live our lives the way that we wish. Nobody should be in charge of our bodies or even political opinions. It took the television interview to bring it home to me that I may not be quite as Liberal as I claim to be. Once someone really started to challenge me, I retreated into defense mode.
We Are Yet to Understand our Community
There are so many quirks in the community which we are not yet fully familiar with. In our struggle to get some of our rights, we may have lost a sense of what we are really facing. This is a community that is waking up to the age of emancipation. That means that many will go their own way regardless of the narratives of the struggle. It is not feasible to insist that they must all go Left because we have had a wonderful relationship with that side of politics. It also does not mean that we should always automatically rule out the Right as a viable political option for us.