Entertainment » Culture

Our Future: The Face of the New Gay Conservative

by Kyle Mangione-Smith
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Nov 27, 2017

The gay Republican has always held a somewhat anomalous position within the gay community. Log Cabin Republicans are certainly the most well-known contingent of conservative-leaning gays, and since the 1970s have occupied an Uncle Tom butt-of-the-joke type space within the community. The Log Cabin gays, along with the majority of openly conservative gays within America, have always clung primarily to the free-market Reaganite approach to conservative politics. The brand of conservatism where they could easily grit their teeth and glaze over the incessant homophobic dog whistling that pours out of their own party. But as it's become increasingly clear over the last year, the face of conservatism within America has dramatically shifted. Trump has reshaped the party in a deeply fundamental way, where basic respectability is no longer needed. Accordingly, a new image of the gay Republican has arisen to match the shifting political field.

As I've mentioned before in other articles, occasionally I venture into the world of gay-oriented message boards on Reddit. Given that Reddit as a platform tends to attract a variety of people from different backgrounds, it's a good way to gain insight into the experiences of members of the community I might not typically interact with. Out of all the boards I've ventured onto, r/gaybros strikes me as the closest to a catchall community when it comes to gay men that visit Reddit. It currently has 87,000 readers; the largest readership of any LGBT oriented board on the site.

Donald Trump. Photo: Associated Press

A few weeks ago, a moderator of the board created a thread announcing that they would no longer be allowing any threads regarding Trump. The threads that had been flooding the board for months were split fairly evenly between support and dissent. While Reddit, in general, tends to be more right-leaning when compared to other similar message boards, it made it impossible to ignore something that has been building since Trump announced his presidential run: gay Trump supporters are very much a thing. And for the most part, as one might imagine, they tend to be radically different from the image of the conservative gay that's existed for years.

This certainly wasn't the first instance of gay Trump supporters making their presence known. Back in June, an activist group by the name Deplorable Pride made headlines after being denied a patriotically designed float at the Charlotte Pride parade. And of course, Milo Yiannopoulos became infamous for creating an image of gay conservatism that was a dramatic departure from the Log Cabin Republicans, one that was clearly tailor-made for the age of Trump. The existence of the gay Trump supporter has existed just below the surface of the gay community for some time.

Gregory T. Angelo, Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans. Photo: Associated Press

Most of these men tend to be in their late teens to early 20s from urban and suburban communities, most of who primarily formed their political views and support for Trump through the Internet. They tend to distance themselves from their sexual identities, outside of the pleasure they take in flaunting their political views in duality with what's expected of them as gay men. They often see the modern incarnation of the gay community as vapid, immoral, and socially unacceptable. Above all, they are a very real contingent that likely has more of a presence within the community than people tend to realize.

But where the Log Cabin Republican tended to regard his sexuality and community with ambivalence, the young, gay Trump supporter tends to reject them flat out, along with more standard conservative beliefs. They see themselves as entirely separate from the queer world, occupying a more naturalized placed within a traditionally heterosexual culture. They reject anything that could distance them from the traditional white, heterosexual, American experience. They tend to deny the concept of coming out of the closet, along with any culture or community associated with the LGBT experience. And of course, they're masters in the mental gymnastics needed to rationalize the outward, uncensored hatred the Trump administration has espoused towards the gay community.

Being a gay conservative has always required the ability to rationalize contradictory (and often outwardly dangerous, self-damaging) cultural stances. But the Internet has fundamentally changed the way politics are disseminated. Young gay men can now begin to discover their sexualities in congruence with the formulation of their politics, all through these message boards. Which, as has been established through the rise of the alt-right, can lead to impressionable gay teenagers falling into the depths of extreme far-right politics. Politics that categorically deny any expression of sexuality that falls outside the realm of traditional, respectable heterosexuality. Politics that can lead to young, gay men trying to find a way to rationalize supporting a government that denies their very humanity, more brashly than we've ever seen previously.

Kyle Mangione-Smith is a filmmaker and student living in Boston.


Add New Comment

Comments on Facebook