Fear and Self-Loathing

From the Moscow Times on January 11: “The Associated Press on Friday cited activist Igor Kochetkov as saying Chechnya has seen a spike in detentions of women and men suspected of being gay since December. His comments came on the back of an article by investigative outlet Novaya Gazeta — which first reported on a widespread crackdown on LGBT people in Chechnya in April 2017 — that gay women and men in the republic were once again facing persecution. The outlet said warnings were being posted on social media groups, citing one post which called on LGBT people to ‘flee the republic as soon as possible.’”

The Moscow Times is the largest English-language newspaper in Russia, and they’re keeping up with this recently-renewed humanitarian crisis more quickly than any English-language newspaper in the United States. The New York Times got around to covering the story three days later.

The AP story itself noted, ‘“Russian authorities kept denying that the killings and torture took place in the predominantly Muslim region where homosexuality is a taboo, even after one man came forward to talk about the time he spent in detention in Chechnya. Maxim Lapunov said he was detained by unidentified people on a street in the Chechen capital, Grozny, and kept in custody for two weeks, where he was repeatedly beaten. He was let go after he signed a statement acknowledging he was gay and was told he would be killed if he talked about his time in detention.”

Maybe Rump could take up the matter on his next playdate with Vlad.

“‘Hannity is a buffoon,’ Ben Holden said, perhaps a bit too loudly.” This is the marvelous opening line of a New York Times Magazine story by Benoit Denizet-Lewis on what passes for the gay right wing. “Holden was drinking disappointing sangria with a friend at the bar of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, where he had come last February more out of curiosity than reverence for the president. He was in town for his first Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an event that he took seriously enough to dress up for (dark suit, American-flag tie) but that he was also interested in for its anthropological weirdness. A 23-year-old student at Suffolk University in Boston who is gay and ‘leans conservative,’ Holden planned to take copious notes and write a gonzo-style journalistic piece about a political gathering known as much for its raucous parties as its provocative speakers.”

The article didn’t exactly leave me quaking in fear.

“Holden wasn’t the only young LGBT person in the Trump lobby that night. A few feet away, several conservative gay and bisexual journalists and activists reclined on couches. Among them was Charlie Nash, a tweed-wearing 21-year-old British reporter for Breitbart who described himself to me as a pagan, an absurdist, and a right-wing environmentalist.”

Well, he certainly sounds absurd.

“Next to Nash was Lucian Wintrich, the 30-year-old former White House correspondent for The Gateway Pundit, a conspiracy-peddling far-right website founded by another gay man, Jim Hoft, to ‘expose the wickedness of the left.’ Wintrich is perhaps best known for his Twinks4Trump photo series, in which he photographed lithe young men wearing Make America Great Again baseball caps.”

Don’t get too excited, fellas. The photo series, titled “Make America Hairless Again,” features boys who are not lithe as much as they are emaciated, with poor posture and no testosterone.

After a bizarre interlude in which a closeted fat man tries in vain to get Holden’s phone number and wins an arm wrestling match with Holden’s friend, Denizet-Lewis ramps up the, um, contradictions inherent to the gay right wing: “When not mocking gay conservatives, comedians — as well as many in the LGBT community — have delighted in the sex scandals of closeted gay Republican lawmakers across the country, who often voted against gay rights even as they solicited gay sex in restrooms, hired male escorts, or hooked up with men in their congressional offices. But gay Republicans have also long been seen by many in the LGBT community as no laughing matter…. The writer and sex-advice columnist Dan Savage, who has publicly called gay Republicans ‘house faggots,’ told me that ‘the GOP continues to be an anti-queer political movement, and these useful idiots continue to let themselves be used by the party to inoculate itself against charges of homophobia and transphobia.’”

I disagree with Savage on this point; most right wingers couldn’t care less about being called homophobic or transphobic — particularly transphobic. And I also take issue with the terminology; they aren’t afraid of us. They hate us.

Denizet-Lewis continues: “Though LGBT activists have never had particularly nice things to say about gay Republicans, the rhetoric has been dialed up in the Trump era. Kevin Sessums, a magazine writer and author who prolifically rails against Trump and Republicans on his popular Facebook page, has called gay Trump supporters ‘Vichy gays’ for what he describes as their ‘collaboration with a fascist and deeply homophobic regime.’ Recently, when a gay and formerly liberal power couple from New York were profiled in The Times as Trump supporters, the reaction was fierce. ‘These people are vile, despicable gay men,’ the writer and gay activist Michelangelo Signorile wrote on Twitter.”

It would have been sporting of Denizet-Lewis to point out that the pair only began to support Rump on election night itself, when it became clear that he’d won. And Signorile’s appraisal of them clearly doesn’t go far enough, though to be fair, the article he wrote on this “vile, despicable” duo paints a much more damning portrait than the two adjectives Denizet-Lewis pulls from a Twitter post.

Andrew Sullivan makes his inevitable appearance. “‘Because they know that during this period of the Great Awokening [ho ho, how witty], opposing Trump is not enough to satisfy the far left,’ said Sullivan, who still considers himself center-right politically even though he has supported Democratic presidential candidates since 2000. ‘Anything less than completely accepting the far left’s worldview will get you attacked as racist, or misogynistic, or ableist, or whatever slur the mob settles on.’”

Before we tire ourselves trying to figure out who this phantom “far-left… mob” might actually consist of, let’s pause to remember one of Sullivan’s most shining moments: in the 1980s, he wrote a sickening article for the New Republic about the then-current proliferation of apparently gay male imagery in underwear ads. He cleverly called it “The Ads Crisis.” The Ads Crisis! Isn’t that funny? The Ads Crisis! Many of us died laffin’.

“Considering how much criticism LGBT conservatives face from outside their ranks,” Denizet-Lewis continues, “I was surprised by how often I heard them disparage one another. The assimilationist-minded Log Cabin Republicans, the Trump critics like Sullivan, the deliberately trollish Yiannopoulos acolytes, and the conservative-leaning college students coming of age in an era of greater social acceptance have seemingly little in common besides their sexual orientation — and their oft-stated distaste for identity politics. I routinely heard conservative gays criticize other conservative gays as ineffective, boring or empty vessels.”

Okay, so they’re not entirely self-hating. No, they reserve at least some of their contempt for each other. A charming bunch, aren’t they?

Randy Rainbow does it again! For the latest in Mr. Rainbow’s series of song parodies, check out “There Is Nothin’ Like a Wall” on YouTube.

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