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Why are Republicans So Obsessed with 'The Gays'?

Why are Republicans So Obsessed with 'The Gays'?

Why are Republicans So Obsessed with 'The Gays'?

Don’t you find it odd that out of all the real problems in the world Republicans focus on us?


With the presidential election cycle in full swing, it’s hard not to turn on the news to hear Trump, Pence, (and now to a lesser extent) Ryan, Cruz, Rubio, and various other Republicans, discuss the LGBTQ community in some fashion. Now the big focus is trying to reverse our right to marry, but other discussions include the ability for transfolk to use the restroom of the gender with which they identify, our right to adoption, and the implementation of conversion therapy.    

What confuses the living hell out of me is why Republicans are so obsessed with us. In the beginning, it was flattering, but now it’s plain weird. There are so many actual problems in the U.S. (poverty, homelessness, the mass incarceration complex, the inability to access necessary resources for mental health, police brutality, mass shootings, unaffordability of higher education, and that’s only domestic) to focus on. Think about all the international concerns coming from countries overseas. What about the turmoil in the Middle East and the fact that more and more countries have nuclear weapons?

Out of all these things, Republicans want to focus on taking away the rights of an innocuous group. A group that isn’t asking for much. We’re asking to be treated like every other human being in the U.S. We don’t want special rights. We want equal rights. We don’t want to be in the spotlight. We want to be left alone. We’re not even asking for acceptance, because apparently, that's too much. We’re simply asking for tolerance. To let us be and do our own thing without government interference and violence, but Republicans cannot stop talking about us. What was once flattery, is now an infatuation — an obsession.

You can name the BS reasons they believe “the gays” are a critical issue in the U.S., but for the sake of argument, let’s focus on the top three reasons Republican mention.

1. The Bible says being gay is an “abomination.”

2. Marriage is “sacred” and supposed to be between a man and woman.

3. Men might pose as transwomen and then sexually assault women in the bathroom.    

There are two things in common with their reasonings: They’re logically invalid and simply disprovable. Each can be taken down with a few sentences.

1. In Leviticus, the Bible mentions some things that are abominations, such as working on Sabbath, or planting two seeds in one hole, why are we focusing on the one abomination? Who are you to pick and choose? Doesn’t the Bible also teach tolerance and loving thy neighbor? Also, isn’t there a separation between Church and State?

2. Marriage between two men or two women in no way cheapens or affects the marriage of a man and woman. Allowing gay and bi couples to marry same-sex partners doesn’t ruin the establishment of marriage. If anything, it strengthens it, showing the power of love and commitment.

3. Men can easily do this now. There’s no security stopping men from going into women’s restrooms. There has also been a total of zero documented cases of men posing as transwomen to sexually assault someone in the bathroom. Additionally, more Republicans than trans people have been arrested for sex acts in bathrooms.

Of course, these are oversimplifications, but you get the point. Because the logic for people opposed to LGBTQ rights seems so obvious, this leads to one of two conclusions.

1. The Republicans who are vehemently against LGBTQ rights are unintelligent, with no capacity for independent or critical thought.

2. These are just the surface reasons they give, but the real reason for their hatred stems from something entirely different. Reasons they can’t articulate or are too afraid to admit.

I’m not willing to believe that millions of people in America are that stupid and manipulatable. That’s a cop out answer for a larger problem, which is why I have to believe option two: There’s more than what meets the eye. Republican queerphobia runs deeper than they realize.

I can only speculate the reasoning as to why this is the case, but from a social/evolutionary psychological perspective, the short answer is fear of the unknown/what’s different. Xenophobia, in comparative psychology, isn’t considered a bad thing; it’s an adaptive trait that animals possess to survive. If you’re a gazelle, you don’t mingle with lions. You fear them. You hide from them.

Having the urge to stay away from what’s different is what separates you from being alive and dead. But queer people aren’t lions. (If anything, we’re bears and unicorns.) Humans also aren’t prey, and we have developed consciousness, so comparing us to animals isn’t apt. But it explains the atavistic root of the fear that causes so many Republicans to become homophobic.  

So I think they fear us, which is why homophobia is a phobia. Yes, this phobia manifests itself in violence and hatred. But that’s just manifestations of their fear. Republicans fear the unknown, almost irrationally so. Trump knows this and is capitalizing on human fear.

But (one) of the best way to get over an irrational fear, according to social scientists, is exposure therapy. This often happens naturally, (when a Republican homophobe has a gay/bisexual son, daughter, genderqueer child and then change their thoughts on homosexuality), but often, this isn’t the case. Many of us live in this sheltered world. For homophobes, this world is entirely devoid of all queer things and people.

I also have to believe that Republicans fear that they, themselves, may be gay. If they are indeed gay/bi, they will be stigmatized by their peers, and rejected from their religious/familial communities. Instead of accepting themselves, they push their sexuality deep, deep down, and then become even more vehemently queer.

Subsequently, they project and displace their internalized homophobia onto others. Now we know many of these adamantly anti-gay congressmen are closeted. We know this because gay callboys spiked during the RNC convention, and once every few months we hear a story of an anti-gay Republican congressman (or religious leader) who cheats on his wife in the airport bathroom with a man (or some variation). At this point, when we hear these things, we’re not shocked. In fact, we think to ourselves, “Yup, that makes sense.” When the truth is, this should be shocking, especially given its prevalence, but we’ve become desensitized because closeted Republicans have become a common trope in society.

So we can’t, as LGBTQ+ members of the community, expect to change the minds of those adamantly opposed to gay rights through logic. Fear trumps logic. This may be one of the few things that Donald Trump is aware of. 

What we, as an LGBTQ+ people need to do, is expose the homophobes to queer culture and people. Yes, of course, this shouldn’t be our responsibility, but if we don’t do it, no one will. The best way to get over being homophobic is to have a dozen gay daughters and sons. Alas, since that isn't quite possible, we need to do the next best thing, which is to expose ourselves. This means we’re going to have to engage with the enemy. Instead of unfriending our friends on Facebook who are Trump supporters, we need to talk to them. Show them that we’re not only real people, but that’s there nothing to be afraid of. Instead of using rhyme or reason, appeal to their humanity. Show them that we, as a people, aren’t the lions that they think we are.

There is so much fear in this world, and after seeing Donald Trump gain more and more popularity, I’m beginning to suspect that there’s no bigger motivator than fear.

I’m going to take shamelessly from FDR, and I know how corny this sounds, but I feel like I have to say it. Let’s show Republicans that the only thing they have to fear, is fear itself.

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Zachary Zane

Zachary Zane is a writer, YouTube influencer, and activist whose work focuses on (bi)sexuality, gender, dating, relationships, and identity politics. Check out his YouTube channel here.

Zachary Zane is a writer, YouTube influencer, and activist whose work focuses on (bi)sexuality, gender, dating, relationships, and identity politics. Check out his YouTube channel here.