Article Title:Gay Republicans
Author or Credit:Chris Banks
Published on:10th June 2005 - 12:00 pm
Story ID:771
Text:GAY REPUBLICANS Dir: Wash Westmoreland USA, 2004 Beta SP, 63 mins Gay right-wingers. What to do about them? As the subjects in Gay Republicans tell us, they're constantly being told they're oxymorons. Here in New Zealand, they're basically invisible, whether they're supporters gathering for tentative meetings in Auckland teeny-bopper gay bars, or elected MPs nicknamed "Spanky". Yes, in New Zealand, gay right-wingers are pretty silent, but in America, the land where nobody knows when to shut up, you can be sure that the gay right-wingers – the Log Cabin Republicans – can be just as loud as everybody else. There are some truly infuriating gay people in this doco, from the arrogant tub of lard who defends Bush against his anti-gay marriage campaign by spouting Christian right rhetoric ("you're not discriminated against, you can marry someone of the opposite sex like everyone else"); and the toady Palm Beach hairdresser with more money than sense and a political ambition to rival Alan B'Stard in The New Statesman. But there are also moderates, ordinary men and women who feel betrayed by their party. You really feel for these people who, under an archaic two-party system, have had their principles hijacked and flown first-class to Jesusland. The extremity of the Republican Party's ideological shift over the years cannot be overemphasised. The closest local comparison would be a party made up entirely of liberal ACT/National people and rationalists morphing into Christian Heritage under Graham Capill. It really is that bad. Although they're a bona fide Republican group with tens of thousands of members, they can't even get a booth these days at the Republican Party convention in Texas, which is nothing less than a religious revival gathering. Imagine a Don Brash campaign launch as run by Destiny Church. Actually, just imagine United Future. In power. With someone like Paul "quarantine AIDS patients" Adams as leader. This documentary charts the months leading up to the 2004 presidential election, where the Log Cabin Republicans will be rocked to their foundations over the debate to endorse, or not endorse, President Bush. His increasingly anti-gay pronouncements in that time have caused great anguish. Are we a Republican organisation of gay people, or a gay organisation of Republicans, they ask. Surely when it comes to having your civil rights cut off at the knees, it's a bit of a no-brainer. Not for some of these people. Gay right-wingers are often stereotyped as being self-loathing, selfish and masochistic. That is certainly challenged by watching Gay Republicans, although there are also examples of exactly where that stereotype comes from – writ large. Our chubby friend from earlier who endorses Christian right anti-gay arguments at one point can't seem to make up his mind; during a TV debate with a lesbian Democrat he insists that he would love to be able to marry, because he has a man he loves very much. We never see this person. Perhaps he is embarrassed by this man's extensive collection of George Bush dolls, one of which farts. I am not joking. There are two backbones, literally, to the doco. One is Arizona man Steve May. A former US military paratrooper and openly gay Arizona state representative, May has had hate mail from fundies that make some of the nuttier civil union submissions to our Parliament look like nursery rhymes. He's something of a celebrity, and has been described as the poster boy for gay Republicans, but he's got some tough decisions to make in the run-up to the election. The second is lesbian woman Carol Newman. She is the most visibly betrayed by George Bush's campaign against gay marriage, and how that has personally affected her and her partner of many years. She doesn't want to switch teams and vote Democrat, because that would compromise her principles on everything else. She's upset and angry that Bush has forced her into this position by taking the anti-gay stance he did – and this is a man who sucked up to gay voters in the 2000 election and gained a sizeable chunk of votes from them in the crucial swing state of Florida. Gay Republicans is a fascinating insight into a world of conflicted and compromised human beings that is sure to get your blood boiling, as well as a scary window into a potential future if the religious right is left unchallenged. Chris Banks - 10th June 2005    
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