GOProud or Go Home: The Gay Republican Paradox
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles showing three different local viewpoints of GoProud.
GOProud is a network made up of homosexual Republican men and women who believe in a “traditional conservative government” which supports military action abroad and free market policies. There are many men and women in the United States who identify as homosexual, but do not agree with the politics of the Democratic Party.
This includes gay Republicans, as well as gay anarchists, and gay men and women who would rather not identify with either party. People do not always vote in line with the party whose politics, generally speaking, would benefit them most. Women and African Americans who vote Republican are historical examples of this political phenomenon. Gay men and women who align themselves with the Republican Party are among the most controversial of nontraditional voter groups.
Even though members of the Republican Party have openly denied rights to gay Americans, groups like GOProud organize to have Republicans elected into office, but why? A part of the reason is that gay men and women have more on their mind than their sexual orientation when they cast their vote.
The GOProud Blog quotes a gay attendee of a recent Tea Party conference, “Some asked how I felt about being there. My most frequent response was I feel better coming out gay here today with the Tea Party people then coming out conservative in my gay community.”
I don’t believe this person was exaggerating. Within the leftist LGBT community, being conservative is like being a traitor. Gay Republicans are usually considered nut jobs not worth listening to. Politicians also expect gay men and women to vote Democrat, and often cast the rogue voters aside as people who are not educated on the issues. Politicians have a bad habit of categorizing people into groups based on race, class, sex, and sexuality. Within these categories of people exist a vast diversity of tastes, beliefs and politics.
According to the GO Proud website, their organization supports “policies that promote the power of individuals, limit government’s reach, enable economic growth through free market principles, and strengthen America’s position in the world.” In July of 2010, members of GO Proud called for Michael Steele to step down from his position as chairman of the National Republican Committee, after he criticized the war in Afghanistan, calling it a source of “frustration” for military leaders and stating, “there are other ways to engage in Afghanistan.”
As gay Americans gain more rights within our society, they are able to gain better employment, as well as more access to the circles of conservative Americans. Of course, they will criticize politics of the Democratic Party; however, I worry that electing officials in opposition to traditional voting pattern of gay Americans, while perhaps breaking stereotypes, will prevent groups like GOProud from criticizing the hateful and violent politics of the right.
Both parties ruling American government today are made up of capitalists who view individual freedom as synonymous with economic freedom. However, Democrats and those to the left tend to support policies that account for the presence of systemic inequality, something that applies to the lives of all gay Americans.
Systemic inequality occurs when systems embedded in our society, such as sexism, homophobia, capitalism and racism, inhibit specific groups, such as women, people of color and LGBT community members from achieving equality with more privileged Americans, whether financially or socially. Individual economic freedom must be compromised at times, usually through higher taxes, so that programs that eliminate systemic inequality can be financially supported.
When groups like GoProud organize to support Republican policies that promote the responsibility of the individual to succeed and deny government support for marginalized groups, they are directly inhibiting efforts to make America a more equal place for all people, not just gay Americans.
GOProud’s support of the war effort inhibits the freedom of people abroad, who have as much right to live without violence as any American. Violence is an issue that gay men and women have lived with for centuries. Supporting policies of war and capitalism will allow for violence and inequality to continue to thrive in our own communities.
If gay Americans are to advance in American society, and become true equals, it is detrimental to the movement to support or even tolerate policies that encourage sustaining inequalities of class, race, sex, sexuality and nationality. This being said, both the Democratic and Republican Parties are guilty of enacting these sorts of policies, though in different ways. So, we cannot blame voters. Rather we must hearten members of the LGBT community to challenge politicians who refuse to acknowledge the equality of all people.
Perhaps as gay people join the Republican constituency, Republican policies will become less hateful. However, if Republicans continue to align themselves with wealthy Americans and big business, regulating inequality will not be among their top priorities.
Gay men and women are a growing bloc among conservative voters, and it is inexcusable for LGBT community members and politicians to brush them aside as traitors or idiots. GOProud and other members of nontraditional voter groups are not voiceless minority, they are often outspoken and well known among the public and politicians.
Often, Republicans use these groups to deny accusations that their policies are discriminatory. The left cannot ignore Gay Republicans as a group. This will only push them more to the right. Rather, leftist members of the LGBT community should listen to the needs of this group, understand their gripes with Democratic and leftist policies and point out mistakes on both sides in order to come to solutions that promote equality.
Annie is journalist and activist living in Richmond, Virginia. Her journalism focuses on issues of gender, health and economic inequality. Check out her portfolio here: http://anniebrownportfolio.blogspot.com/ Also, Annie helps run a independent publication entitled, Lips Richmond: http://lipsrichmond.wordpress.com
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