Gay Republicans, Mayor Pete, and Fake News
Dirty tricks are only part of the dialogue
Two notorious Republican dirty-tricksters have been trying to create fake news and sabotage Pete Buttigieg, an openly gay presidential candidate. The facts are in, and they’re ugly.
But the facts are only part of the story.
A bigger question presents itself. Why are some gay men supporting the Republican Party, and how can they possibly agree to help get Donald Trump re-elected?
First, this is what happened —
Monday, an article supposedly written by a 19-year-old gay college student appeared on Medium. He accused Buttigieg of sexual assault. The Daily Beast and The Advocate interviewed the student and reported that his accusation was false, part of a conspiracy by a notorious pair of far-right activists.
More and more young gay men are identifying as Republican and supporting Trump as president.
The student himself later posted on Facebook and retracted, saying he’d been taken advantage of and that, “It’s important for everyone to know that I was not sexually assaulted and would never falsely accuse anyone.”
He explained the circumstances:
I was approached by a political figure to come to DC to discuss political situations from the standpoint of a gay Republican. When I arrived they discussed Peter Buttigieg and started talking about how they would be working a campaign against him.
“I went to bed and woke up to a fake Twitter… and an article that I in no way endorsed or wrote.
I have since left and am working on a formal statement to give to everyone including the Buttigieg family.
This student wasn’t the first gay man the Republican activists approached —
The Daily Beast says it possesses an authenticated audio recording in which the pair try to convince a different gay Republican to make false accusations against Buttigieg.
That man also refused to participate, saying he wanted no part in falsely accusing an innocent man. Good for him, and good for the 19-year-old student.
But their presence with the activists raises a big question —
Both gay men met with them in order to talk about working together to support the Republican Party and help get Donald Trump re-elected in 2020. How is it that a 19-year-old gay kid can be a Trump supporter? How could any gay person support Trump, whose LGBTQ policies have hurt people so badly?
According to recent, in-depth reporting in the New York Times, more and more young gay men are identifying as Republican and supporting Trump as president.
A few big names stand out —
Former Breitbart senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos is perhaps the most prominent example of a young gay man making his bones rejecting liberal ideas and stumping for far-right causes. The Anti-Defamation League labels him and some of his allies “alt lite,” or “in step with the alt-right in their hatred of feminists and immigrants, among others.”
Dan Savage publicly calls gay Republicans “house faggots” and “useful idiots,” observing that the Republican Party is an “anti-queer political movement.”
Yiannopoulos came to national attention by touting ideas inspired by neo-Nazis and white nationalists. In October 2017, leaked emails revealed he had repeatedly solicited neo-Nazi and alt-right white supremacists for Breitbart story ideas.
Lucian Wintrich is another prominent gay Republican. He’s a 30-year-old former correspondent for The Gateway Pundit; a far-right, conspiracy-laden website founded by Jim Hoft, another gay man. Wintrich might be most recognized for his Twinks4Trump photo series, featuring scantily-clad, hairless young men in MAGA hats.
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Gregory T. Angelo, former president of the Log Cabin Republicans, told the Times that, “[Gay men are] coming out in recent years in a way they have not before.”
Guy Benson is a 33-year-old gay man and Fox News contributor who came out publicly in 2015. He told the Times that the conservative gay movement has become large and broad enough “to have multiple constituencies with vastly different priorities and political styles.”
Angelo told the Times that some gay conservatives are so confident that they “shout about their love of the president and their LGBT identity from rooftops.”
One favorite narrative among Log Cabin Republicans is to blame the oppressive Don’t Ask Don’t Tell gays-in-the-military policy on President Clinton and the Democrats, and then to take credit for fighting the policy.
Listening to gay Republicans trying to take credit for civil rights victories is, as the Times notes, mind-bending —
The Republican Party fought tooth and nail against gay people serving in the military, openly or otherwise. The courts and President Obama finally opened up service to members of gender and sexual minorities. And now, Trump has moved us backwards, effectively banning transgender people from service again.
In fact, Trump’s war on LGBTQ rages on many fronts as he courts his evangelical Christian base, whose votes he must have to win in 2020, according to most political analysts, including Thomas B. Edsall writing for the New York Times.
Click for a partial breakdown of how Trump is rolling back LGBTQ rights:
Gay Republicans, especially gay Trump supporters, enable oppression —
Gay writer and advice columnist Dan Savage publicly calls gay Republicans “house faggots” and “useful idiots,” observing that the Republican Party is an “anti-queer political movement” that uses the Log Cabin group to “inoculate itself against charges of homophobia and transphobia.”
I publicly describe myself as an “uppity faggot,” riffing on the same theme Savage touches on, a theme of purposeful oppression and denial of rights by a privileged majority of white, cis, straight men.
The Republican Party personifies that privilege, and nothing could be more useful to them in the Trump era than cover against charges of bigotry.
Gay men are providing that cover —
I don’t blame the young man in this story. I haven’t used his name or linked to his social media, because this isn’t about him. It’s about a privileged group of gay men he’s listening to — like Yiannopoulos, Wintrich, Angelo, and Benson — who feel themselves so integrated and so accepted by society that they forget they’re the exceptions rather than the rule.
They don’t see or don’t care about the suffering of LGB people of color in the rural American South or transgender people in the Bible Belt. Like the Log Cabin Republicans who declined to lobby for the LGBT Equality Act in 2015 and who remain silent on it so far this year, these men are willing to snuggle up in their own personal privilege and overlook that only 41% of American LGBT people live in places where discrimination in housing, employment, and public accomodation is illegal.
They overlook the plight of homeless LGBTQ youth who make up an astounding 40% of all homeless youth in North America. They overlook the LGBT youth in the US who contemplate and attempt suicide at frightening rates — five times higher than other youth.
They overlook that medical professionals often refuse care to LGBTQ people and that the Trump administration is writing rules the American Medical Association says will make that practice more common.
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Wealthy gay men who live in major cities likely face little persecution, but I submit that like all members of minorities, they have a moral obligation to look out for the less fortunate, to love their neighbors.
People who are oppressed and persecuted for who they are share a common enemy —
Abuse of power by the privileged. Gay Republicans make the same mistake in accommodating homophobia and transphobia as conservatives regularly make about racism.
As Jay Michaelson pointed out yesterday in The Daily Beast; racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism DO NOT EQUAL hatred or personal antipathy toward minorities. They are ideologies and political systems that have the effect of hurting members of minorities:
Contrary to the false and exculpatory claims of the right, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are arms of the same murderous monster, together with ultra-nationalism, hatred of the other, and racism.
And when you agitate one part of that monster, the whole beast rises.
Michaelson says you don’t have to hate Jews to be an anti-Semite. You don’t have to hate Black people to be a racist. I would add that you don’t have to hate gay people to be a homophobe.
All you have to do is support ideas and politics that make gay people second class.
That’s exactly what the Log Cabin Republicans do when they oppose the Equality Act, and it’s precisely what prominent gay conservatives do when they ignore the suffering of LGBTQ people and other oppressed minorities.
When gay college students fall prey to Republican dirty tricksters trying to sabotage a gay candidate for president, those students are symptoms of a much larger problem, of a cancer that eats at the soul of American politics and manifests at its worst as Trumpism.
It’s a cancer of privilege, apathy, and lack of concern for the least of us.
How can we be free when some of us suffer to prop up the privileged? That’s a question I’d put to all Republicans and Trump supporters, but one I’d put most especially to gay Republicans.