This week we probably lost another LGBT leader. What makes it unusual is that he abdicated, in effect. He felt compelled to proclaim that he thinks his life-long conservative political convictions are falsely understood by “the LGBT community” in such a way that he has to choose between being an LGBT advocate and a supporter of US President Donald Trump. In other words he feels obligated to choose between being consistent with his beliefs and being an advocate for LGBT rights being held by a community that he thinks insists he stand for a whole list of “liberal” issues. Since he cannot pick and choose the issues he wants to advocate, he feels forced to choose between being head of an LGBT advocacy network and being a political conservative “in the Trump era”.
These are key passages from his long message posted this week:
I do not support Black Lives Matter; I do not believe in systemic racism, white privilege, safe spaces, intersectionality, reparations or the third wave of feminism. I do not believe in sanctuary cities.
I support Brexit, school voucher, nationalism, boarders, equality of opportunity not equality of outcome, rule of law, small government, gun ownership, pro-life, and separation of church and state (rightly understood).
I cannot be in the closet [about his political conservatism] any longer simply because I am a gay "activist" and simply because identity politics dictates that I must be liberal or be ostracized from the LGBT group. I choose to be ostracized from the LGBT community, if that's my only choice.
He is choosing ostracism, a type of social martyrdom. He is marching bravely into the Internet coliseum singing “Nearer My God to Thee”.
What we have here is another gay person who voted for Trump and now wants to ignore the things Trump is doing and defend his vote as from his heart of hearts. One question is how can any gay people willingly vote against their best interests, but the other question is what do they think their best interests are?
My first thought was that he is confused and his list of things he supports is quite inconsistent and incompatible with actual issues LGBT groups advocate. But on second thought he may be right, just unclear about how he is right, that he has to choose between “us and them.” I propose the following as thoughts as to what is going on between Liberals and Conservatives in the USA and elsewhere:
In many countries (perhaps every country) there is a struggle going on to promote human rights and opportunities for LGBT persons. This has initially been divisive before finding areas and strategies for rapprochement, in those places where that has been accomplished. Particular campaigns have included same-sex marriage and the rights of transsexuals and transgender persons to have their sex identity changed on official documents, as well as the right of same-sex couples to adopt children. Often churches and other religious organizations have been active opponents of these efforts, citing beliefs that the sexual binary is an inviolable law of nature or that males are created superior to females. LGBT rights groups have sought linkages to other human rights groups whenever possible. It is a strategy to produce strength through numbers. Opponents have tried to discredit these groups by focusing on a particular issue in order to divide and defeat them more easily. The divisions between “liberals and conservatives” have basically been about these linkages.
My “Ah Ha!” is a realization that we often fail to differentiate between principles and strategies. For example, LGBT advocacy groups have often sought to align themselves with other groups advocating different forms of human rights. Feminist rights, racial rights, sexual rights, immigration rights, healthcare rights – they have a lot in common and advocates can learn from and assist each other. We can march together in a Pride parade or #Me Too rally. But opponents of one of the issues can highlight that and seek to discredit “the whole agenda,” tarring everyone with the same brush. Church groups, having become convinced that abortion is not a human right but a grievous sin, find it easy to lump anyone favoring abortion with those who favor other issues as well. Zionist groups excoriate anyone who advocates human rights for Palestinians and call all with whom they associate anti-Semites. Racists in the USA, feeling threatened by increases in numbers of people of color, have chosen “Confederate Monuments” and battle flags, as a symbolic issue to be used against a wider swath of “dangerous ideas” including controls of any kind on firearms, or homeschooling. The idea is to unhitch one issue from the package the opposition is presumed to advocate in order to quash the opposition.
The fallacy, of course, is the failure to notice that advocacy groups try to form alliances without necessarily subscribing to all items on every list some other marchers are hoping to accomplish. When we collapse all those distinct aspirations into a lump with a libelous label other aspects of our logic and rationale begin to collapse, too. Then it is easier to feel like a victim. When we succumb to paranoia, we are lost to our cause.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.