Saturday, July 14, 2007

Democrats Who Do Not Act Like Sissies

Gay writer and sex columnist Dan Savage recorded a now-classic This American Life piece for their show about “Sissies” a few years ago. His hook was gay personal ads seeking “straight-acting” men. His take was an effeminate man having the courage to act as he is damn the social reprobation is less of a sissy that at least some “straight acting” gays.

As it is with gay personal ads, so it is with politics. If the Democratic party had written a personal ad up through 2004, it would have read something like:

    Curious party (NS) seeks straight-looking, straight-acting gay man/woman for discrete, politically advantageous encounters.
Democrats liked the idea of getting votes and volunteer help from the gay community. But did they have to act so gay and everything? Because it might make people uncomfortable.

Which is why I am enthused about the LGBT Presidential Primary forum co-sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign and Logo TV. The forum will happen August 8 and has now been extended to ninety minutes and will focus on issues important to the LGBT community. So far Clinton, Dodd, Edwards, Gravel, Kucinich and Obama have RSVP'd.

As important as it might be to discuss specific issues, the forum sends the overarching message that the Democratic Party will not be bullied by the far right into marginalizing our gay brothers and sisters. After years of trying to play both sides -- tell the gays we care but we'd really appreciate it if we did have to say it too loudly -- Democrats can be proud of the courage of these candidates. They know the far right will try to pillory them for attending the forum. They know that they won't be in complete agreement with the audience.

And they know that the thorniest issue of the '04 campaign -- that of gay marriage -- will be Topic A. Most of the candidates are not four-square in favor of calling it marriage, which should make for some interesting posturing. Especially since Kucinich isn't exactly shy about taking the absolutist position and beating his opponents over the head with it. (For those of you keeping score at home, my own view is that gays should be allowed to marry but I am willing to get there incrementally.)

As for the guest list, Biden and Richardson are currently missing. Interestingly, both are arguably the most Manly Mannish candidates. Which is all well and good, but it's no excuse for acting like a sissy.


Village Green said...

Oh I'm so glad to see they are now welcoming Gravel to their debate. I fired off an email to LOGO when Mike announced he'd not been invited because of not raising enough money. I told them I would not watch the debate unless all Dem candidates were invited.