While being a part of the LGBT community is challenging enough, being a queer person who is also a Republican presents its own unique set of challenges. Just ask Caitlyn Jenner (probably the most visible conservative, LGBT face in media, right now). A few months ago, during a speaking engagement, Caitlyn told students at the University of Pennsylvania, "I have gotten more flak for being a conservative Republican than I have for being trans." In the season-two premiere of her E! docu-series I Am Cait, Caitlyn defended her Republican beliefs, and she recently created a viral video using the women's restroom at Trump Tower in New York City after Ted Cruz came out against bathroom bills that would let trans people use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identities.
Unsurprisingly, social media users and many people within the LGBT community have taken her statements and actions as an opportunity to express their outrage and disgust towards Caitlyn and her political beliefs.
This type of separation in the LGBT community isn’t uncommon. When one hears, “LGBT Republican” or “Gay Republican,” all types of assumptions come to mind. Usually, one treats the notion of being gay and conservative as if you are a mythological creature or a person who is committing an act of treason, and because of these stereotypes, many queer Republicans are rejected from their own community.
Exiling LGBT Republicans is counterintuitive and hypocritical.
The LGBT community (and its ideology of acceptance) is represented by the rainbow flag which is designed to epitomize the diversity in the community, but how can the LGBT population ask for acceptance, when they aren’t willing to tolerate members of their own community based on a difference of political opinion?
It’s not unusual for Democrats who run for office (and are not LGBT) to speak for the community and exploit queer people in order to gain support. Hillary Clinton's State Department emails lost some of her support with same-sex parents, and her campaign responded by sharing a letter from a fearful gay dad who is “scared of what a Republican president will mean for his family. ”
In its own way, this kind of political act is offensive. It not only exploits gay people and takes away from the conversation around Hillary and her controversial stances, but it creates an idea that there aren’t gay Republicans. While the figure heads of opposing political parties do openly discuss whether or not they are LGBT supportive, we should take a look at our own community, and other liberals as well. Racism, misogyny, and transphobia are attributed as reasons to not vote for Republicans but these issues run rampant in all communities, not excluding the gay community.
It’s true, being only slightly homophobic is not as harmful as someone who holds political power and is overtly so, but the left truly isn’t that much safer of a place for many LGBT people because liberals have a tendency to act like just because they are liberal, there is no way that they perpetuate homophobia or transphobia. This ideology is wrong, on so many levels, and doesn't hold some "allies" accountable for their actions.
When a local Oregon militia locked themselves up in protest at the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge earlier this year in an effort to reclaim federal lands, indie rock group The Decemberists' lead singer Colin Meloy (who is married to a woman) tweeted gay bear fiction about members of the militia. Many liberals spent time and money sending the group dildos. While these actions maybe are funny, if these people were truly allies they would understand that reacting to conservatives actions by basically calling them “fags” is just as bad as being a homophobe in the eyes of many. It's subtle homophobia.
Men, regardless of their political standing, should all be able to hang out in a cabin without it being "gay." The word "gay" is also not a come-back to bigotry, even if you package it in a thinly-veiled, faux-progressive phrase like "liberal, educated, and comfortable with gay sex." These allies seem to be able to take the time to send packages to a militia and write gay porn about them, but have ignored transgender needs. While many leftist allies have come out against the nation's harmful bathroom bills, like North Carolina's HB2, where has their fervor been before now? Why are trans folks still dying? Why are liberal artists and journalist continuing to exploit trans lives for their profit? Why does the left only jump on a bandwagon when something devastating happens to a group? We've been asking for help and support for decades.
Aside from all of the hypocrisy in “calling out” LGBT Republicans, what feels most concerning and alarming is how the segregation between the left/right and gay/straight communities creates a political affiliation around sexual and gender identity. Political slants really shouldn’t have anything to do with how a person identifies sexually or in their gender presentation. If all queer folks were to only visibly exist on the left then it would look (to the right anyway) like LGBT identity is merely a symptom of liberalism, and not to be taken seriously. The left doesn’t outnumber the right. The Republican party isn’t going anywhere. We aren’t going to defeat their ideology by dismissing it. We can try to educate Republicans on issues, but we most definitely can not do that by isolating ourselves from them entirely.
Queer people on the left don’t have to befriend anti-gay Republicans; all they have to do is not bully the LGBT Republicans who are trying to educate their fellow conservatives.
Being LGBT and a Republican truly does have merit. LGBT people have accomplished so much throughout history and I think if we allowed other LGBT folks to bleed into the right, we could see further change. Some hot-button issues like the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, trans rights, and protection for LGBT youth (particularly the homeless) still need tending to, and if we had voices on both sides of the political spectrum advocating for these issues, we could get legislation passed faster. Society needs to stop demonizing and abusing LGBT people due to their political slants and instead engage with one another through healthy conversation that leads to societal fairness for everyone.