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Republican 'coming out' is inflammatory

BY GUEST OPINION | APRIL 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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While covered by the right to free speech, using the phrase "coming out" for Republicans is propaganda because it erases the distinctions. Experts in the history of sexuality could provide even more precise distinctions, but I will take a stab at it here.

Coming clean as a Republican is in no way similar to coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or even a straight ally. Your sexual orientation is not a choice, and until you come out, you often live with some awful guilt about the contradictions and disjunctures between the social norms you would like to satisfy and your own humanity.

Disclosing your sexual orientation is a choice made under some of the most difficult circumstances, against overwhelming odds, and in the face of devastating consequences. Your political affiliation is also a choice, but the circumstances are far less difficult, and the consequences less severe.

Coming out as gay, lesbian, or bisexual or trans-sexual/gender person risks the most severe consequences. These range from rape, assault, beatings, phyisical or psychological bullying to disinheritance, being disowned by your own family, and losing all or most of your intimate relationships — Not to mention losing the right to marry, hospital visitation rights, and joint tax filing. At the least, any one of these is profoundly life-altering — in many cases, they are directly life-threatening. Coming clean as a Republican carries less risks both in quality and frequency.

At best, the LGBTQ community's public support systems and organizations are relatively young — they go back to less than 50 years. For support, Republicans in the U.S. can rely on the GOP, a powerhouse political machinery with its multitude of think tanks for policy making and social and professional networking.

Close to half of the population of the United States are socially conservative. Social conservatives are overwhelmingly opposed to rights for LGBTQ people. On the other hand, social conservatives tend to either vote Republican, are members of, or are favorable to the Republican Party. The same cannot be said about Democrats, many of whom are liberals; But even liberals struggle with homophobia and mistaken assumptions about LGBTQ life and rights. It can only be hoped that the Democratic Party will one day embrace LGBTQ rights in action as well as in rhetoric.

Simply put, coming out as a gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans-sexual/gender person means joining a marginal minority, while declaring yourself Republican means joining a dominant, mainstream political movement. The difference between the two is that the first group has an extremely small amount of power, access, and resources of self-defense, while the second group enjoys a substaintial amount of power in society.

To to use a metaphor from sexual orientation for political ideology is not only mistaken, it is also misleading and inflammatory. It does not help rational and civil debate, it instead hinders it.

Gyorgy Toth
UI graduate student


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