Lessons Learned

BY Michelangelo Signorile

May 16 2011 3:00 AM ET

 There are two things we’ve learned from GOProud, the small, often obnoxious right-wing gay group that makes the Log Cabin Republicans seem like liberals. For the uninitiated, this is the group that supports outspokenly anti-equality public figures — from Ann Coulter, who was paid to speak to the group, to Donald Trump, who is opposed to any gay unions—and targeted gay congressman Barney Frank during the 2010 election with an ad that called him “catty.”

First off, denialists and elitists who believe they are superior to other gays — even if the attitude masks a pitiful self-loathing — are clearly as prevalent as ever in the LGBT movement, except that they can now be out of the closet. Perversely, the fact that we can find such people in GOProud is a measure of our success.
The other thing we’ve learned is that the Christian right, contrary to all the media blather about it losing steam as the Tea Party ascends, still has a grip on the GOP, and this can actually be helpful in gaining civil rights through the Democratic Party—if the Democrats recognize a useful wedge issue staring them in the face.

On the first count, let’s look back in history. There’ve always been gays in even the most extreme corners of the Republican Party. There was the reckless senator Joseph McCarthy’s right-hand man, Roy Cohn, who helped his boss ferret out both alleged communists and homosexuals in the government in the 1950s. In the ’80s closeted conservative activist Terry Dolan vocally supported the antigay agenda of Christian right leaders as chair of the National Conservative Political Action Committee. He helped elect—and wrote a book about—Ronald Reagan, who bowed to religious extremists and ignored AIDS, the disease that took Dolan’s life in 1986 at the age of 35.

Justin Raimondo was the openly gay campaign manager of the virulently antigay Pat Buchanan’s 1992 presidential campaign. In the new century we had Ken Mehlman, chair of the Republican National Committee and, later, George W. Bush’s reelection campaign manager, who promoted anti–gay marriage amendments across the country, helping the GOP to win with hate. And let’s not forget Mary Cheney, who, like Mehlman now, is out, but gives money to antigay politicians even as she enjoys the benefits of hard-won gay rights advances.

Their motivations are probably unique to each but there are some commonalities: a desire to be close to power; a hunger for attention and GOP approval; a selfish devotion to Republican “fiscal” policies over civil rights; and a belligerence toward gay activists, whom they seem to detest.

GOProud’s Chris Barron fits right in, often appearing desperate for Republican acceptance, compromising his positions at a moment’s notice—if he even had any to begin with. Formerly political director for the Log Cabin Republicans, he broke away and cofounded GOProud, claiming that Log Cabin wasn’t conservative enough. Since its founding in 2009, GOProud slowly moved in the direction of not taking any pro-gay positions, all in an attempt to be included in the Republican Party, even though Barron oddly once tweeted that GOProud is “a gay organization, we only work on gay issues.”










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