September 12, 2019 at 7:38 pm EST | by Brock Thompson
The problem with gay Republicans
Judd Deere, gay news, Washington Blade
Judd Deere, special assistant to the President and deputy press secretary. (Photo via Twitter)

So, what did you get up to on your summer vacation? I myself did the usual gay hot spots along with many of my fellow queer Washingtonians — Rehoboth Beach for a few weekends here and there, Provincetown, Mass. All in all, a pretty gay little summer. 

Just as our summers were wrapping up, Vice President Mike Pence was wrapping up his own rainbow tour of Europe, including stops in Ireland, where he dined with the country’s gay prime minister and his husband. Later, on to London, where Pence got all dreamy-eyed sitting across from Boris Johnson, gushing over both him and Brexit generally. The trip overall was no big deal, really. Most people seemed to ignore him, or, as the case with Iceland’s first family, straight up gay troll him. They famously wore rainbow bracelets in photos with the Vice President when he visited Reykjavik. Wherever he went, no one really seemed to want him there. The Irish Times didn’t dance around anything, calling the whole thing nothing but a real shit show.

Whatever you call the visit, you can’t call it, or Pence for that matter, anti-gay. That would be terribly unfair, according to Trump White House chief gay Judd Deere. That’s what he told us via his Twitter account anyway. That if you still think Pence is anti-gay, like everyone on the planet does, just remember he had lunch with gay people. True Kellyanne Conway-esque logic there. Sort of like saying, “Yes, your uncle is a complete anti-gay bigot. But may I remind you he really enjoyed Robin Williams’ performance in ‘The Birdcage?’ So, don’t you feel a bit foolish now?”

But who is Judd Deere exactly? Like me, he’s gay, and he’s from Arkansas. And he’s stepped up to the press plate at the White House following the departure of fellow Arkansan Sarah Huckabee Sanders. This column isn’t really about how anti-gay this administration is, or how Deere is wrong to enable and promote it. That’s all pretty obvious. But how, as gays, do we treat queer quislings like Deere? What do you do with this administration’s useful gay idiots? Some have argued that if you see Judd Deere out in a gay bar, you should tell him he isn’t welcome. And I have to say, this strategy is pretty damn tempting. This of course would involve some effort on my part — committing Deere’s face to memory, actively scanning bars for him, approaching him, unwelcoming him there. It’s a lot. But still, would it be fair for Deere to enjoy our gay spaces when he touts policies that fly in the face of everything these spaces represent — safety, security, free expression, and inclusivity.

There’s all of that, and now that summer is behind us, things could really come to a head this fall, as the Supreme Court is set to hear three cases of interest to us. The question, succinctly, is whether or not we can be fired for being gay. Trump’s Justice Department says yes, we can, submitting a briefing arguing so at the end of August. The cases are set to be heard this October. Aren’t you tired of having your basic rights argued over? Deere has made his thoughts clear on all of this. Calling the Equality Act passed by the House earlier this year full of “poison pills.”  The Equality Act would include workplace protections (safety and security) for LGBT Americans. 

I know what some of you might be thinking. There are gays of every stripe, be more tolerant, blah, blah, blah. This gay Republican thing would’ve been cool, say, in 1995, when all Republicans hated us, and so did about half the Democrats. But now, in 2019, the lines are pretty well drawn. So I’m fairly intolerant of gay Republicans like Deere. So perhaps in Rehoboth or Provincetown, or around our town, maybe I’ll get the chance to tell him one day. 

Brock Thompson is a D.C.-based writer. He contributes regularly to the Blade.

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