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    Growing up in public

    Gay Orbit notes that GayPatriot appears to have cast the apple of discord in our midst with the varying opinions of its proprietors about whether it’s the new Daily Dish. Others are already doing all the wrangling necessary, so I will confine myself to two points I don’t think are being given sufficient attention:

    First, yes, Andrew Sullivan has turned into a wet noodle. It’s painful to see, and his opining now frequently ranges from the silly to the outrageous. Let’s remember something, though, shall we? A decade ago, he was using his print and television presence to show a rare face of gentlemanly, reasonable gayness. The gay marriage argument has moved beyond his early books, but back then, the opposition really did tend to confine itself to things like, “Gays have sex, not love.” At the level to which the debate had progressed, Sullivan was one of the few major figures who made rational arguments that gays were responsible enough to be fully included in society.

    This past year or so has been a test of his principles, and he’s flunked so far. There’s always hope that he’ll get it together, but he completely deserves the drubbing many of his current positions are taking. That doesn’t change the fact that he made a lasting contribution to gay advocacy; it’s unseemly to be slagging him off as if he were a terminally-empty Richard Goldstein type who’d recently found a way, somehow, to become even more tiresome. Show some respect.

    Second, Gay Patriot wants attention, and I think it’s wonderful that he and his thoughtful collaborator are getting it. I don’t like the idea that for eternity there will be a single Andrew Sullivan Chair in Non-Commie Homosexuality that has to be filled, with every other gay who opens his mouth considered leftist until proven innocent; but there’s nothing wrong with having one commentator or blog that’s the most prominent exponent of right-leaning gay thought.

    And yet…I think GP mentioned once that he works in marketing, and, well, I believe him. I mean that in both good and bad ways. GP and GPW are good at soundbites, and soundbites are useful in blogging. They get quoted, and they’re attached to a site called GayPatriot, and that does good, necessary work in demonstrating that not gays are not all lockstep leftists who look down on America.

    At the same time, I worry. I worry because the guys at GayPatriot don’t seem to recognize that you can’t stop at marketing. At times, they do make solid, worked-out arguments; but for the most part, when one of their political posts sounds good, it sounds good because you’re filling in the gaps between catchy pronouncements with actual facts or logical constructions you’ve read elsewhere. When GP, especially, needs to make a case that has no evidence to corroborate his–there’s the hilarious story of the bottle thrown at his car and the more serious allegation that LCR’s Chris Barron may have had divided loyalties up to very late in the election year–he doesn’t show much inclination to ascertain and then question his own assumptions in order to strengthen his story. (I suppose it’s possible that each of these posts was followed up with more hard evidence, but I read GayPatriot regularly and am pretty sure I’d have remembered; they both made me practically fall off my chair at the time.)

    The guys at GayPatriot also don’t seem to understand that, while they deserve kudos for publicizing their unpopular political opinions, their mindset about people is stereotypical urban-gay, and not in the good way. Here’s GP demonstrating that he’s more all-American than Andrew Sullivan:

    Andrew’s main problem is that he, along with his fellow Clinton Democrats, do not understand Red State (and the majority of) America. He admits he doesn’t like or “get” country music, for example. Funny, my iPod continously brings up Kenny Chesney on random rotation.

    I know people who grew up in rural Kentucky that can’t stand country music; there are also New York music critics who can go off for days about how wonderful George Jones and Loretta Lynn are. But neither of those is really the point–the point is that GP is fixated on the artifacts rather than the attitude. Do you use your music to make a statement about yourself, or do you figure that people’s integrity is pretty much unrelated to whether they have Cher or Reba in the CD player? And, if we’re going to use the term, which mental framework is more “Red State”? (I admit I laughed at the hockey joke, though.)

    There are a lot of nice people in the blogosphere who are looking for reasons not to think uncharitably about gays and who are very receptive to GayPatriot’s message, which is great. Some of them have day jobs as journalists and could get the site real exposure, which is also great. For now. But the more attention they get, the more likely it becomes that they will run into skeptical people who hold you accountable for everything you say and expect finely-woven arguments. If they don’t start figuring out how to provide them, they’ll make themselves and the rest of us look bad.

    4 Responses to “Growing up in public”

    1. GayPatriot says:

      I just like being different :-)

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Cool. Just be different by being smarter than your enemies. Seriously–I don’t care when Michelangelo Signorile spins gossamery, insubstantial fantasies. That’s all he has. I mind when people have defensible positions but don’t defend them. We need to make sure we have the goods.
      And BTW, did you have to try to prove you’re like C&W-listening Red State men by picking the singer who’s primarily known for being hot? /:)
      (Okay, I went in and altered that last sentence, since, as someone who doesn’t get the lust-for-Chesney thing, I really won’t be able to explain it if asked. Maybe there’s a void since we don’t hear much about Clint Black anymore.)

    3. Toren says:

      I really regret Sullivan’s fall, since he was (and still can be, on occasion) a superb writer, really world-class. And he was a very astute observer, as well.
      It’s a damn shame.

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      Yeah, it’s not worth sifting for me anymore. A loss, though.