The Queer Issue: You're Doing It Wrong
Oh, homophobes, what a weird time it is to be you.
For decades, you've drawn sustenance from the same old arguments against "the homosexual lifestyle," which you've steadfastly called depraved, diseased, willfully perverted, and an inherently evil threat to the fabric of society. The generations of homosexuals who lived in the closet allowed your craziest arguments to go unchallenged, and the few hidden-in-plain-sight gays operated from within the gays-are-evil-perverts paradigm, with Liberace denying his depraved lifestyle to the bitter, flaming end and Paul Lynde distorting himself into a sexless, self-ridiculing cartoon.
But what a difference a day makes! Especially when the "day" is a four-decade stretch of progress that's seen the whole ramshackle culture make the evolutionary leap to understanding that gay rights are human rights and homosexuality is just another component of life. And yet in this brave new world of Glee (gay teens running free on TV!) and Lady Gaga (world's biggest pop star moonlighting as the world's most outspoken gay activist), you Bible-thumping homophobes have kept spewing the same poop, responding to the new reality by clamping down harder than ever on old saws, in hopes of... what? Changing minds? Winning converts?
Sorry to burst your bubble, but in the age of Glee/Gaga/majority support for marriage equality, old-timey Bible-based homophobia says so much less about gay people than about the homophobe, who's exposed as a deluded nutbag.
For example, when Michele Bachmann describes homosexuality as "a very sad life" that's "part of Satan," the majority of American housewives don't think, "Hm, maybe that crazy-eyed lady is right, and I should prepare for the day Ellen DeGeneres sprouts goat legs and eats a baby." They think, "Oh, she's one of those freaks who invents reasons to hate gay people." Or take this statement from the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer, who eloquently summed up the gays thusly: "Ladies and gentlemen, they are Nazis. Do not be under any illusions about what homosexual activists will do with your freedoms and your religion if they have the opportunity. They'll do the same thing to you that the Nazis did to their opponents in Nazi Germany." (The mind reels. In the world of self-persecuting homophobes, anyone who isn't actively oppressing homosexuals is a homosexual activist, from actual gays to the many pro sports teams and one president who've contributed to the It Gets Better Project. And apparently we're all going to band together—you, me, President Obama, Adam Lambert, the Chicago Bears—and get some good old-fashioned Nazi death camps up and running. It'll be fab!)
Seriously, homophobes—if you're hoping to reverse attrition in your crazy ranks, you've got to learn some finesse. The hoary old monster myths—that gays are inherently evil, that we have a predilection for pedophilia, that we are affiliated with Satan and Hitler—are repellant to anyone who knows an actual gay person. There are definitely new homophobes to be recruited (the road to equality always has stragglers), but if you're looking to win converts, you're doing it wrong.
For a lesson on how to best present anti-gay bigotry in this age of general okayness with gayness, you'd do well to study the maneuvers of a man with legitimate ties to both Satan and Hitler: Donald Trump. The real-estate-mogul-turned-reality-TV-star-turned-failed-presidential-contender spiced up his faux-campaigning with some relatively inspired anti-gay bigotry—"inspired" mostly because it seemed so casual. Asked by Bill O'Reilly for his opinions on gay marriage, Trump said, "I just don't feel good about it. I don't feel right about it." Trump further explained his position to the New York Times: "It's like in golf. A lot of people are switching to these really long putters, very unattractive. It's weird... I hate it. I am a traditionalist. I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, but I am a traditionalist."
And that, my homophobic friends, is the kind of bigotry that could attract some followers. No Satan, no Nazis—just an offhand, unexplained preference. The most functional model of contemporary anti-gay bigotry, Trump proves, is just to present "the ick factor" as an inalienable right.
It's genius. Getting 21st-century Americans to believe Rachel Maddow is the spawn of Satan is clearly an uphill battle, but nothing is easier than getting people to fetishize their own preferences. Presenting anti-gay bigotry as "just a personal preference" is homophobia's last best hope for survival. Polls show the Bible is a losing argument against the gays—even religious leaders are starting to admit that. So drop the Bible-thumping, Third Reich bullshit, homophobes, and start working on your "It's Okay to Not Like Gays!" campaign. You'll need a hip and attractive spokesperson. (Donald Trump doesn't cut it.) Good luck.