The Daily Caller lamented that gay people have become “totally boring” now that they've secured some basic legal rights and no longer have to live in fear of being outed or ostracized in their everyday lives.
In a November 6 op-ed, reporter Patrick Howley cited the Senate's advancement of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) as evidence that gay people had lost their “daring, transgressive” edge and had instead become a “bland, tedious, grievance group eagerly seeking government approval” :
Back in the day, gays were subversive adventurers, trolling the city streets at night on a lustful quest for experience and with an outlaw mentality not seen since the days of the Wild West. They were decadently-dressed sexual superheroes, daring Middle America to condemn them as they pranced their corseted, high-heeled bodies around to midnightscreenings of great American movies like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Pink Flamingoes,” and “Mommy Dearest.” They had an ingrained creativity, a patented sense of irony. They had a brand. They had an identity.
The progressives hosed all of that activity down. The progressives have filled the back-alley glory holes with MoveOn.org petitions. They have condemned clubs named “The Toilet” and erected phone-banking operations for Media Matters. They have taken away your leather costumes and dressed you in Obama-Biden T-shirts. They have taken away your poppers and your molly and handed you $14 apple martinis.
What Howley fails to mention, of course, is that much of the gay community's “outlaw mentality” probably had a lot to do with the fact that gay people were frequent targets of harassment and legal discrimination.
It's unclear what time period Howley is romanticizing, but the history of the gay community in America is littered with examples of police brutality, government persecution, and intense societal rejection. The Stonewall Riots, widely considered to be the birth of the modern gay rights movement, were sparked in response to regular police raids and harassment at a New York City gay bar.
Gay people were branded as having "mental illness," arrested for committing "crimes against nature," and routinely denied even the most basic legal recognition for their relationships. When the AIDS epidemic began ravaging the gay community, right-wing homophobia kept government actors from responding quickly to the growing epidemic even as thousands of gay men began to fall victim to the disease.
There are countless stories of gays and lesbians being forced out of their homes, attacked, and even killed because of their sexual orientation, to say nothing of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” ongoing housing and employment discrimination, and marriage inequality.
It's no wonder that Howley, a straight man, misses the flamboyant and subversive elements of the gay community of yesteryear; he didn't have to deal with all the pesky routine discrimination and violence that came along with it.
Howley ends his exercise in hetero-privilege by urging gay people to cut ties with progressives and “embrace the freedom this country has to offer” - ostensibly while still letting go of the fight for ENDA and other progressive LGBT policy objectives:
To the gays, whose plight and whose stories in this free country are inextricably bound to mine, I say: be yourselves. Live your lives free of the anger and the division that has been forced upon your community by political interests that don't see any color in life at all, let alone the colors of the rainbow flag. Embrace the freedom this country has to offer, do your part to expand freedom and liberty for others, and cut ties with the unlikable political brand you've become attached to.
It's a sweet-sounding sentiment, but that “freedom this country has to offer” wasn't always offered to gay people. It's been won thanks to decades of hard-fought organizing and campaigning by the LGBT community and its progressive allies.
Laws like ENDA would obviously help “expand freedom and liberty for others,” but Howley would prefer it if gay people remained on the margins of mainstream America. According to the Daily Caller, marginalized groups are just less fun to look at when they start being treated equally.