Tuesday, August 26, 2008

An intolerant gay community

Two weeks ago, news emerged that the co-founder of the website Manhunt.net had contributed $2,300 to the presidential campaign of John McCain. Uproar ensued.

Haven't heard of Manhunt?

Unless you're a gay man, that's to be expected. It's one of the most popular gay websites in the world, with 1 million registered members in the U.S. alone and 400,000 unique visitors a month. As its name implies, it's a site where many gay men go to find "casual" sexual encounters.

Except that the Internet, as Jonathan Crutchley recently discovered, isn't really private. He founded Manhunt with his partner, Larry Basile, in 2001. He ran into trouble when Out published an article about the website in its current issue. The article, in passing, referred to Crutchley -- who until last week was chairman of the board at Manhunt -- as a "liberal Republican." That tidbit apparently shocked gay blogger Andy Towle, who within seconds found Crutchley's donation to McCain on a contributor database and posted the news on his website.

The shaming and condemnation of Crutchley was swift and unforgiving.

"Let's show MANHUNT what we in the gay community think of members of our community who support politicians who vote against the interests of the community," an anonymous commenter wrote. "Delete your MANHUNT profile!" Michelangelo Signorile, a gay liberal radio host, labeled Crutchley "asinine" simply for supporting McCain.

Rarely do you come across a political candidate who shares each and every one of your political views, and Crutchley's support for McCain was hardly different from that of any other donor who doesn't make the perfect the enemy of the good. "I believe McCain will be a better commander in chief than Obama, who also opposes gay marriage," Crutchley wrote on a website that covers the online personal ad industry. "If we have an experienced, seasoned person defending the country in this dangerous age, we will be able to argue about the gay agenda later."

That explanation might not please every gay activist, but it is a feeling shared by many gay people. According to exit polls, about 25% of gays voted for George W. Bush in the last two presidential elections (the actual number is likely higher, seeing that many gays do not identify themselves as such to pollsters).

The fact that Crutchley is a Republican ought not to come as much of a surprise then, especially considering that he's a self-made millionaire. And he's hardly a radical right-winger either. "I'm a Massachusetts Republican," he wrote, "which is about the same as being an Alabama Democrat."

But such nuance is apparently irrelevant to those who equate homosexuality with political liberalism. Manhunt hasn't revealed how many people canceled their profiles. However, just how poisonous Crutchley's politics can be in a gay milieu can be deduced from the speed with which he stepped down from his position as chairman -- at "the request of the board," according to Basile. Crutchley maintains his co-ownership of the site.

If the intent was to silence a conservative gay voice, it appears to have succeeded.

The hue and cry over Crutchley's politics is all too familiar. Why can't gay activists countenance the idea of a "Massachusetts Republican"? Liberal intolerance. In the minds of too many on the left, gay people (like women and ethnic minorities) have to be liberal and support Democratic candidates. To do otherwise -- to have opinions on issues that don't follow the left-wing line -- is to be a traitor to the gay "community."

Anyone ever hear of the Log Cabin Republicans?

For too long, many gay-rights activists have acted as if throwing temper tantrums will magically bring about their political agenda. But labeling everyone with whom they don't agree a "bigot" does not help gay equality.

Civil rights for gays can't come about without the help of Republicans; gay people -- and straight supporters allies need to stand with, not silence, people like Crutchley who are working to change the GOP from within.

Did we forget California? The state Supreme Court loaded with Republican appointees legalized gay marriage and the Republican governor is one of the most powerful pro-gay publicly elected officials in the country, to understand the importance of making gay rights a bipartisan cause.

Aside from sexuality, gay people are no different from heterosexuals. There are gay people of all races, income levels, occupations, body types and, yes, political beliefs. Gay liberals are always crowing about the importance of "diversity" and lauding its importance on matters of race and gender. Too bad diversity doesn't count when it comes to politics.


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