The Gay Right.
June 17, 2002 6:19 PM   Subscribe

The Gay Right. Richard Goldstein argues (accurately, I think) that the Right has come to dominate gay and lesbian politics. Even when I don't agree with them, I've always enjoyed reading Andrew Sullivan and Norah Vincent -- but where are their progressive counterparts?
posted by MikeB (21 comments total)
Well, I seem to recall reading somewhere that the average per capita income of openly gay people was higher than that of straights(I googled for the figures, came up empty). People with money have a lot to protect which can make people more conservative, at least some of the time.

Now these numbers may be skewed by the fact that gays in wealthier more educated eviornments are more likely tro be out of the closet, but I still think it's a good theory. Not being gay of course, I have no way of knowing, really.
posted by jonmc at 6:45 PM on June 17, 2002

Andrew Sullivan is not now and never was a conservative. The spectrum simply shifted leftward so that he winds up on the right. Likewise, the yellow-dog Democrat New Republic is considered "conservative" these days. Even a guy like Christopher Hitchens is seen as right wing.

This shift started in the early 1970s when a group of cold war liberals turned against the New Left: Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, Nathan Glazer, Daniel Bell, Ben Wattenberg, etc. They replaced the Old Right conservatism of Russell Kirk, Robert McCormick, Richard Weaver, Henry Regnery, Wilhelm Roƫpke, etc.

What is called "conservative" today looks like the ghost of FDR: interventionist foreign policy, increased power in Washington, deficit spending, government intervention to "save" capitalism, plus the destruction of self-government and all that represents pre-1964 Americana.

That homosexuality has anything to do with it is simply a consequence of an ongoing trend.
posted by Erendadus at 7:25 PM on June 17, 2002

Oh my god, do you mean to tell me that 'mos aren't all the same? Shocked, I am. Next you'll be saying 'mos are just people with all of the various moods, emotions and thoughts are everyone else! How confusing would that be?
posted by Poagao at 7:45 PM on June 17, 2002

The idea that gay people are wealthier than straights is based on zero (repeat: zero) hard evidence. Be sure to read Income Inflation: The Myth of Affluence among Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Americans (pdf), a 1998 study by a labor economist for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, especially pages 5-7, "What's Wrong with the Marketing Numbers." Turns out that all of the early studies were done by marketers who didn't even try to contact poor g/l/b/t folks. They weren't interested in those people; there was no money there. Instead, their samples came entirely from mailing lists of subscribers to upscale g/l magazines like Out and users of g/l-themed credit cards. Yeah, that's real good science.

Unfortunately, queer "leaders" like Megan Smith, president of the clunky, doomed dinosaur, hyped the wealth thing like crazy during the Internet boom. Here's Smith whoring the community out to advertisers in an April 2000 Salon interview:

"The gay and lesbian community has very attractive demographics...We're talking about $450 billion in consumer buying power in the U.S. alone. They're more likely [than the average American] to have 401Ks, for example -- this makes them very attractive to E-Trade."

I asked a PlanetOut spokesperson at the time where Smith got her numbers and was told they came from a 1996 Simmons Market Research study. Guess what Simmons told me when I asked where they got their sample? Uh-huh. Gay credit card and magazine subscription lists. Shit. Smith's comments are a perfect example of corporate queers boosting the bottom line at the expense of the struggle for full equal rights. As if we didn't have enough lies and bigotry to deal with, we now had Megan Smith giving false ammunition to the religious right about how wealthy we all are.

Just wonderful.
posted by mediareport at 7:59 PM on June 17, 2002

Do we really need the word 'homocons'?

Erendadus: what you're describing is not conservatism, it's dubyaism. Many conservatives, and conservative fellow-travelers (me) are not happy with much of what Bush has done since being elected, including deficit spending, increasing the size of government and huge pork-barrel spending (this year's Farm Bill).

Remember that during the election Bush was billed as someone who could run a bipartisan coalition, who could work with Democrats, as he did when he was governor of Texas. Well, this is him doing it. I don't think he's vetoed a single bill since election. It's not conservatism. It's 'going along and getting along'. Everyone has to do some of it, but Bush can be criticized for not standing on conservative principles at all, except on social issues (which I often disagree with). Sullivan is a conservative. Bush is often less of one.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 8:20 PM on June 17, 2002

increased power in Washington, deficit spending, government intervention to "save" capitalism

I'm pretty sure that doesn't describe Sullivan.

Likewise, the yellow-dog Democrat New Republic is considered "conservative" these days.

This is also not my impression. Certainly, TNR is hawkish, and certainly they fit well into the New Democrat mold, but I don't think anyone really considers them conservative, save on war on Israel.

Oh my god, do you mean to tell me that 'mos aren't all the same?

I think that the argument is that the most prominent, politically-oriented homosexual writers are conservative, not that--hey, wow! there are gay right-wingers!
posted by claxton6 at 9:56 PM on June 17, 2002

Do we really need the word 'homocons'?

Sure. We Americans love having little shorthand names for everyone. I'm just waiting for someone to lie about their sexual preference in order to further their conservative agenda.

That's right... a Deceptihomocon.
posted by fnord_prefect at 12:50 AM on June 18, 2002

TNR was far more conservative under Sullivan than it is now. And it strikes me as a better magazine now than it was when Sullivan was in charge. (Sullivan's TNR put me in mind of a bargain-basement National Review.)

I suspect that politically conservative gay pundits are more palatable to the media than the left-wing variety.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:19 AM on June 18, 2002

... just like anti-abortion conservative women or conservative african americans
posted by goneill at 6:03 AM on June 18, 2002

Even a guy like Christopher Hitchens is seen as right wing.

By who? He's a regular columnist in The Nation. Though he hates the Clintons and is a hawk where military action against Islamists is concerned, there are others on the left who share those traits.
posted by rcade at 6:52 AM on June 18, 2002

Sullivan's trajectory is quite unusual. When straight conservatives are caught having affairs or otherwise behaving ethically unseemly (by the Christian monogamist morals they advocate), they get dumped by the Republican party. When Sullivan shames other people for sexually un-Catholic behavior that he himself practices, he somehow becomes more acceptable. How does the teflon fruitcake pull that off? I still don't understand how he pulls off the mindfuck of being a Catholic sinner.

To Sullivan's credit, Goldstein is quoting severely out of context in this article, as explained on

If Sullivan's making so damn much money off his blog, why can't he afford permalinks to posts instead of days of the week? ;)
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:30 AM on June 18, 2002

Do we really need the word 'homocons'?

It could be worse; he used "gayocons" when he wrote a similar piece last year. Also see his book, Attack Queers: Liberal Society and the Gay Right.

I'm a little put off by Goldstein's generalizations about queer culture ("The queer community is the spawn of a marriage between socialism and bohemianism more than a century ago"). I dunno, seems to me that same-sex attraction existed long before the 1900s, which means Goldstein's only talking about one particular "queer community" here: the predominant one in the modern West. So what's the problem with acknowledging that there can be others?

That said, I do think it's important to keep alive the "visionary tradition" of queer humanism that began the modern movement, and think Goldstein nails the appeal of gay conservatives for squeamish mainstream liberals who enjoy keeping a house fag handy. The homocon contrarian shtick can be truly wretched, as when Norah "look how unorthodox I can be!" Vincent cavalierly dismissed transgendered people who "mutilate their bodies" and dare to consider themselves a woman or man when the dictionary clearly says they're not. No one who's watched a friend transition would ever say something so deeply, unnecessarily insulting. The dictionary? Give me a break.

Sullivan's response to Goldstein is here, btw (scroll down). Not surprisingly, he calls the piece a "hysterical screed" and attacks Goldstein for deliberately misquoting him. True or not, Sullivan's got his own brand of slipperiness. He's kidding himself and lying to readers when he now claims to have never condemned casual sex. There's a reason he was known in the '90s for ridiculously moralistic dismissals: he kept making them. That he also could occasionally write about non-monogamy in an accepting way was more a sign of his conflicted queer Catholicism than anything else. Getting caught posting at a bareback sex site forced him to resolve some of his issues, but anyone who was paying attention to him prior to that knows he'd written some incredibly judgemental and dismissive things about people who liked casual fucking or were part of the leather or S&M worlds. No amount of revisionism can change that.
posted by mediareport at 8:10 AM on June 18, 2002

I still don't understand how he pulls off the mindfuck of being a Catholic sinner.

Mindfuck is the right word. The way most folks do it is to compartmentalize themselves, in some cases so completely that they're not conscious of what they're doing. I know I wasn't the only one who saw this kind of conflict working itself out in Sullivan's writing for years before the bareback episode.
posted by mediareport at 8:19 AM on June 18, 2002

posted by kliuless at 11:20 AM on June 18, 2002

mathowie in MeTa on June 13:
"I hate to be the angry parent, but seriously, for the benefit of all, if people continue to abuse the privilege of posting inline images, if they keep posting stupid images that aren't funny and take up tons of screenspace and user bandwidth, the image tag is going away completely for everyone.

"Remember when people used blaring red fonts on the home page and were unapologetic about it? I had to turn that off because users chose to abuse it, and the same thing is happening with images."

Was there a point to posting a pic of the "Men on Film" sketch in this particular thread, kliuless?
posted by mediareport at 11:33 AM on June 18, 2002

sorry! i did not get that memo! if i could edit the post i would just link to it instead! it will not happen again! sorry!
posted by kliuless at 11:41 AM on June 18, 2002

Ok, let's assume you posted the link instead of the image itself.

Was there a point to linking to a pic of the "Men on Film" sketch in this particular thread, kliuless?
posted by mediareport at 11:58 AM on June 18, 2002

i will stand in the corner and think about what i have done, considering the moratorium (until my posting privileges are revoked :) i just liked the blue on party blue background and the coy gaze of damon wayans from the corner :) and thought it would add some levity to the discussion :) (though, now that i think about it really didn't need it, and they're really aren't gay :)

again, sorry. i apologize, mediareport and to the other posters for derailing a very interesting thread :)

btw, i was trying to think of some gay progressive commentators and all i could think of really was rosie o'donnell. oh and david brock i guess? there might also be some parallels with conservative jews in the news. oh and also rick perlstein wrote a book on barry goldwater that i think might help explain the conservative thread from a fresh perspective.
posted by kliuless at 1:08 PM on June 18, 2002

right wing gay - 1. self hating, self destructive person who prefers sex with those of his/her own gender. 2. oxymoron, with a stress on the moron part 3. relative of the dodo bird, exists only in theory

:) how's that for injecting some levity into the thread?
posted by nofundy at 12:31 PM on June 19, 2002

how's that for injecting some levity into the thread?
Not so good.
posted by thirteen at 1:02 PM on June 19, 2002


Don't you mean Cryptohomocon?
posted by mikewas at 8:52 AM on June 21, 2002

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