GOProud, a group of gay conservatives, recently endorsed Mitt Romney — a move that angered LGBT activists because of Romney’s position on gay marriage. Now GOProud says progressives, in condemning the endorsement, have crossed the line into hate speech. Their opponents in the LGBT press charge that the group is trying to exploit the very real issue of homophobia for political purposes.
Last Wednesday, GOProud — which aligns more closely with the tea party wing of the GOP than the other well-known gay Republican group, Log Cabin GOP — voted to endorse Romney. The vote was not unanimous: Co-founder Chris Barron reaffirmed his support for Libertarian Gary Johnson.
The endorsement sparked derision and scorn from gay columnists and progressives. GOProud said the reactions went too far.
• Gay rights advocate and columnist Dan Savage called the group “house faggots” in a tweet condemning the endorsement.
• The Village Voice’s Michael Musto compared GOProud to “Jewish Nazis” (along with a list of other incendiary pairings). Barron responded by calling Musto “a muppet.”
• Current TV’s Joy Behar speculated that the only reason GOProud endorsed Romney was because the men in the group are attracted to Romney’s sons. She also wondered how “They call themselves gay and they haven’t been to ‘The Book of Mormon?’ Unbelievable.”
On Tuesday, things escalated when Musto linked to the comment section on the popular progressive LGBT blog JoeMyGod, where a rousing defense of Musto was under way. Two of the commenters said Barron should jump off a cliff, which Barron interpreted as a suggestion that he kill himself. The comments were taken down by JoeMyGod (you can see them here on Barron’s blog).
Musto and Savage, Barron says, are hypocrites — attacking gay men and lesbians with the force and tactics that are the trademarks of the bullies they have spent their careers condemning.
Barron sees homophobia in the comments, particularly Behar’s.
‘“The tolerant left’ like Joy Behar, this is what she actually thinks of gay people,” he said. “She also said, ‘haven’t we seen the Broadway musical “The Book Of Mormon?” because of course every gay guy thinks with his dick and goes to Broadway musicals. That’s the Joy Behar-Manhattan view of the world. ‘Haven’t these gays gone and seen a Broadway musical?’”
“You know, ‘of course they’re making a decision based on who they want to hook up with, my florist does!’” Barron said, mocking Behar’s reasoning. “It’s the most disgusting and condescending attitude from someone who claims to be such a gay rights advocate.”
Barron said that young gay conservatives may feel attacked by the comments thrown at GOProud, making Savage part of the problem he is trying to end with his “It Gets Better” campaign.
Savage strongly objects to that assessment. He said GOProud was trying to hide behind the rhetoric of bullying and homophobia to protect itself from legitimate criticism from those in the LGBT community upset the group is backing Romney, who is the now the only major party presidential candidate on the ballot who does not support marriage equality.
“For these loudmouth, attention-seeking shit-kickers in GOProud to run around pretending that they’re bullied 13-year-old homos living out in the sticks is just so offensive on its face and disingenuous,” he said. “Oh, yeah, they’re the real victims here. Let’s all set aside our concerns for actual victims of actual bullying, which requires a massive power differential and someone being in a vulnerable social position and wring our hands about people who live to kick a hornet’s nest having kicked a hornet’s nest.”
Savage pointed out that GOProud leadership has used the term “faggot” before as well. Savage said he doesn’t believe the word in and of itself constitutes an attack.
“I don’t believe a word is hateful or not hateful. It depends on the context,” he said. “Which is why I had to qualify ‘faggot,’ which I don’t see as a hate term, with ‘house’ to make it an insult.”
As for Behar, Savage said he hadn’t heard the joke but it didn’t strike him as homophobic. It did strike him as lame, however.
“It’s sounds like an unfunny joke, maybe. Like half-formed,” he said. “But I don’t think that it’s that crazily offensive. … Go to any of these GOProud, you know, macho mans’ Twitter feeds, and they make really rude jokes at the expense of others and then somebody makes a rude joke at their offense and they’re folded up in the fetal position, sobbing.”