We often use race and gender as a way to shame or silence our adversaries. But we should try to go beyond skin color to explore genuine ideas. We are not, thankfully, in the old days of segregation and Jim Crow, but neither are we within a post-racial world yet. In order to get beyond race, we need to deal honestly with people who try to use race to divide or deride.
Alex Blaze of the Bilerico Project blog wrote recently that the leadership of Log Cabin Republicans is so “white and male.” While the author drew the reader in by first talking solely about the national board of Log Cabin, he swiftly pulled a bait and switch further into his column by expanding his examination to all leadership positions within the organization.
So imagine my surprise when the author asked is it really “that there are almost no queer people of color or women who are Republican?” Or his odd statement of questioning why “women and minorities are less likely to be in leadership positions” within the gay right. At first glance, I thought “so what?” But something kept me coming back to his piece.
As a black man who serves as president of D.C. Log Cabin Republicans, I should be offended. But I’m not. It is nothing more than the status quo from the gay left.
The Log Cabin Republicans are a cross-section of not only the GOP, but also of the LGBT community. In the last presidential election, 27 percent of gays voted Republican. We range from RINOs to right-wingers to proud members of the Tea Party. We are well off and upwardly mobile, as well as lower to middle class just getting by. We are white, black and brown, male and female and even transgender.
But this is an anathema to what many liberals believe. The left believes the Republican Party and the Tea Party movement are comprised of a bunch of rich, white guys who are surely sexist and racist. But tell that to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, or New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. Or better yet, the dozen or so minority freshmen Republicans elected to Congress last year who were supported by the Tea Party. But I digress.
You couldn’t help but wonder if Blaze had taken the same strict scrutiny to our counterparts at the National Stonewall Democrats. While a cursory look at their website showed an abundance of lesbians on its board of directors, there is a dearth of minorities. Yet, no questions from Blaze as to where the black and brown gay Democrats are in leadership positions.
Perhaps it doesn’t matter that Log Cabin Republicans have women and minorities leading strong chapters in places like D.C., Chicago and San Diego. That’s merely an inconvenient truth.
Being a gay Republican is sometimes tough because both sides of the political spectrum discount us. Some on the right don’t think we’re true conservatives. To the left, my individualism reeks of selfishness, self-hate and even betrayal by some. How silly to think the rainbow flag we hold so dear as a community represents strength through diversity.
But throwing in the additional identifier of being black or brown can often cause apoplectic shock to those in the other party. So, when they say they don’t mean to bean count, that’s exactly what they mean to do. We create a chasm in the gay left’s demand for political solidarity.
When I was first elected president of the D.C. chapter of Log Cabin Republicans last year, I declined to make an issue of being the first black president of a chapter. I believed, then as now, that my race should not be an issue. My talents and energies as an activist should be the measuring stick of my success.
To quote Martin Luther King, Jr., we should not be judged by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character. The Log Cabin Republicans — especially the D.C. chapter — have moved beyond bean counting. When will the gay left?
Robert Turner is president of the D.C. chapter of Log Cabin Republicans. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.