October 19, 2024

Decision 2024: The Gayest Presidential Election in History!!!

Is this gayest presidential election EVER? Okay, so the Millard Filmore / Winfield Scott match-up was a bit of a nancy-dance, but it's nothing to the tweaked-out circuit party this election's become. Gays are finding themselves constantly in the glare of the national spotlight, and often without their make-up on. Political discourse has begun to resemble the script of a gay.com chat channel. There are long discussions between cable pundit hacks on George Bush and John Kerry's strategies for debate make-up applications. The specter (or the promise) of gay rights is being yielded rather awkwardly, either in attempts to mobilize a certain voting bloc or tamp one down. Lesbian bodice-rippers have taken over spin alley.

And I knew it was going to be like this way back in the early spring, when we here in Minnesota worked hard to fight a measure that would be put the issue of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage on the November ballot. Does anyone still not realize that these movements across the country had a two-fold purpose: to ban gay marriage, sure, but also to bring out passionate homophobes on November 2nd who would obviously vote for Bush in his re-election attempt.

Because of Bush's support for the Federal constitutional amendment, the small cadre of gay republicans quickly decamped. While in the 2000 election, whether a gay should vote democrat or republican was actually up for debate, the decision was decided early on this time around. I think all that's left of the group is an answering machine at an empty Log Cabin Republicans office in DuPont Circle and one insane black gay republican.

With that decided, we needed something else to keep the queer meme active, so naturally the question on everyone's lips became: Who's gayer? Kerry or Bush? Soon after John Kerry picked John Edwards as his running mate, they were given the beat down among the internet's right-leaning chattering classes as too pretty, too fey, too gay. The Drudge Report (run by the ambiguously sexual (or unambiguously gay, depending on whom you ask)) Matt Drudge posted the legendary headline, "KERRY AND EDWARDS 'CAN'T KEEP HANDS OFF EACH OTHER'". And what is Bush's over-used stump speech gag about not choosing Dick Cheney for his hairdo other than an attack against the masculinity of his opponents? So you have to be ultra masculine to be commander-in-chief? Kerry fired back. He went on The Late Show with David Letterman and told a few jokes himself, including one regarding debate negotiations: "I wanted to have John Edwards stand. Dick Cheney wanted to sit. We compromised and now George Bush is gonna sit on Dick Cheney's lap.''

Now, while the more enlightened among us realize that masculinity and homosexuality are not exactly intertwined, in popular discourse an attack against one is more often than not an implication of the other. As individual identifications with one or the other candidate solidify to an extent I find rather scary and semi-fascist, as the ranks assemble in such tight formation that they no longer allow room for nuance or even rationality, the attacks have aimed waay below the belt. Betty Bowers takes aim at the hypocrisy of the right's fear of The Homosexual with her essay, "Is President Bush a Girly Man?". Well, it's worrying to some when the President is caught saying "...you got a pretty face ," [Bush] told the surprised Mr. Reid. He wasn't done. " You got a pretty face ," he said again. " You're a good-looking guy. Better looking than my Scott anyway."

But while the left's preoccupation is rather in jest, I have been particularly disgusted with how the blogosphere's conservative blogs have been referring to John Edwards as Kerry's "bitch boy." The tag even appeared on the letters page of Andrew Sullivan's blog, though I think he's taken it off; it only appears on a mirror. How could those two be gay? They're not even for gay marriage! And did you hear dandy Tucker Carlson call Jon Stewart Kerry's "butt boy" on Crossfire recently? Where's the FCC? Is that not worse than a tit?

Tangental to all of this (at least until the third and final debate) was the steady outing of republicans. Thanks to Blogactive, we were first treated to Ed Schrock's gay phone sex advertisement and then a whispering campaign about Congressman David Dreier that broke into the mainstream media. Not to be outdone, a right-wing Christian group in Maine threatened to out those who want to "eliminate the mother/father family." The list is long, they promised us! Yes, but we don't just want the names, we want the deets!

Of course, things got complicated when Kerry mentioned Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter in the third debate. Now it's gotten personal! The issue has been fought over for, like, the last four news cycles (that must be a record!). Of course making it an issue--to an even greater extent than John Kerry did--is a brillant political move by the Bush/Cheney campaign--while they can at once play up on homophobic, intolerant attitudes about mentioning someone's homosexuality while couching that in a language of propriety, thereby claiming the moral high-ground. As Andrew Sullivan said, it's "masterful jujitsu." Yes, and it's called gay-baiting.

Mary Cheney is out with her and her partner, and works for Coors as an out lesbian doing outreach to the gay community. Her sexuality is not a private matter any more so than any other partnered adult. Kerry didn't mention her in a gratuitous way but merely to show that we all have gays and lesbians in our families. John Edwards mentioned her in his debate and it was fine--why is it such a big deal now? And republican senate candidate Alan Keyes (whose daughter is gay, dontcha know...) called Mary Cheney a "selfish hedonist" at the republican convention, but neither the Cheney family nor anyone else on the right spoke out about that. I find this particular bit of politics fascinating for what it leaves to the imagination--could the Cheneys really be using their daughter's sexuality as a political football? How does Mary Cheney feel about this?

Usually, us gays are trotted out on stage and forced to wear silly frocks to make a convenient political statement, then we're expected to go back to our closets or gay bars or wherever they think we live and keep quiet. The extent to which homosexuality has been a part of politics this year shows how pervasively it's seeped into our culture, and thus our consciouses. I'm just concerned that the glare we're forced under gets brighter and brighter, and the lighting lately hasn't been very flattering.

Posted by Jason at October 19, 2024 07:13 PM
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