The first gay-topic book I ever read was titled, The Homo Handbook: Getting in Touch with Your Inner Homo: A Survival Guide for Lesbians and Gay Men, 1996 by Judy Carter. It was a humorous book, typical of the era, that approached the reality of being gay in the late 90’s with optimistic charm and energy. One of the memorable passages which today would read as proto-woke humor was about changing everyday language to be more gay and fun.
‘When giving directions, instead of saying, ‘Go straight ahead,’ say, ‘Continue gayly forward!’
25 years later the message seems more relevant than ever. When I think on what it means to be a gay person on the right, conservative, Republican, libertarian or wherever one finds themselves on the spectrum, it has become the very nature of gay identity itself that has become necessary to reaffirm. Long past are the days of American Dad style Log Cabin Republican ubiquity with the larger gay world, separated only by views on taxes and gun rights. Today we find ourselves considering an entirely new kind of gay rights movement.
Gender Identity has overtaken the LGBT world to such an extent they can no longer remember what being gay means. Being gay for modern privileged gays seems to mean activism for trans identity and rights, mixed in with a healthy dollop of intersectional racial identity. To be gay is to be a progressive activist and to be anything other than a progressive activist is to be guilty of bigotry, self-hatred and community shame.
Of course, that has always been an aspect of the gay community, long before it became the LGBT community and longer still before it deformed itself into the LGBTQQIAAP+ Federation of Identities. However, being progressive in 1996, as Carter lovingly described, was about personal acceptance and using that inner sense of love to encourage creative tolerance in those around you. It wasn’t about ideological domination, but merely a seat at the table.
Today we have the whole table and have mean girled everyone else away, as long as the BLM kids don’t need it to stand on for a protest.
Somewhere along the way being gay on the right moved from ‘I’m gay but that isn’t why I’m here’ to the last place in American society a person can freely and proudly be gay without judgment. Ironically its the conservatives who seem to be holding up the last remnants of 90’s gay flamboyance, drag culture and the golden rule of individuality and freedom of expression. The gay movement has come to rely on the conservative movement for survival.
In many ways I think we have mutually benefited one another. When looking across the conservative spectrum, we see many more prominent gay people than you’d otherwise expect, several trans people too. Many of the most vocal rightwing voices are gay voices. We offer access to the contemporary world in a way conservatives have struggled to sustain, even if that world is becoming less and less hospitable.
So when I begin to wonder what purpose gay conservatives have any longer, considering every policy goal from the early Log Cabin movement well into the 2000’s has been accomplished, it comes down to the idea of survival of the individual. In many ways there is no gay community any longer. Only gay people exiled from the Cyber Punk 2077 dystopian wasteland of LGBTQIAP/BIPOC misery and fear. There is no conservative movement either, only what’s left of humanity that still believes individuality and freedom mean something more than symbolic equality or positive statistical social outcomes.
We find ourselves stranded outside the city together, not wishing to return, but having nowhere else to go. Our ‘movement’ is one of personal liberation from Puritan progressive authoritarianism and it doesn’t matter who we are married to any longer. We just want to be free and we need each other to rebuild a society that values freedom over safety and superficial social equality.
My message for all of us has come down to ‘Continue Gayly Forward,’ as we all must refuse to be personally or publicly forced back into a closet of hiding who we really are. Whether that means feeling safe to homeschool your child to attending church to declining to participate in gender identity madness, we are all fighting for our right to free expression and independence, together.
Continue Gayly Forward, my friends. If I have to put on a wig and heels and march down the street waving the new flag of freedom to get us there, I’ve already got the perfect dress for the occasion.
I read that book. Good times.
I also didn’t recognise the trauma I had gone through as a closeted kid in the 1980s growing up in a hostile environment, along with most other gay kids. It sometimes takes decades to recover from, but the first step is acknowledging it, so you can deal with it and finally move on.
One thing a lot of kids today have the advantage of is growing up in loving environments where family and society loves them for who they are. It creates a new breed of gays who are stronger and more confident. They stand up for what is right and just. A lot of older gays may harbour a subconscious jealously of their worldview because they weren’t afforded the same benefits of support in their childhood. I know I struggle with that. But, I have also learned to listen, because, like it or not, the kids have something to teach us on who we can really be.