As I settle into my golden years, several things in Portland confuse me: white boys with baggy clothes and corn rows who use the word “yo”; woman of all ages, races, shapes and sizes who insist on displaying their bare midriffs; “straight” men who cruise the Eastern Prom without hiding their wedding bands or Bush-Cheney bumper stickers.
However, these puzzlers pale in comparison to my lifelong bewilderment over the idea of being really gay and really Republican.
To me, being gay and Republican is like a person of color joining the KKK, a Jewish person joining the Nazi Party, a chicken pimping for Colonel Sanders.
Nevertheless, it’s a New Year, and I made that resolution to be open-minded. A recent quote from First Republican George W. Bush sticks with me. In the name of promoting more “common ground” and understanding, Bush said, “If you come up to me and speak Texan, then I know you have an interest in Texas culture… If you learn to speak Arabic, you are showing that you have an interest in the Arabic culture.”
Maine now has a chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, the official GLBT segment of the Elephant Party, so I decided to look for that common ground, to understand this group’s reasoning and motives. I wanted to learn gay Republicanese.
It wasn’t easy to reach out. After several failed attempts to interview Maine LCR President Noah Hincks in person or by phone, I finally submitted my questions via e-mail.
Citizen Dick: Your announcement about the LCR chapter in Maine received a fair amount of attention. What’s your reaction to how it was reported?
Noah Hincks: I’m not surprised that left-leaning publications have omitted any response of mine that pointed out where Democrats have faulted on gay civil rights, such as Clinton’s endorsement of the Defense of Marriage Act (while he was committing adultery, no less), or John Kerry’s support of every statewide constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, including his home state.
We’ve received a positive response from the Maine GOP. Dan Schuberth, the vice chairman of the Maine Republican Party, personally congratulated me when the news broke of Log Cabin Maine’s launch, and in talking with everyday Republicans I’ve found their reactions to be overwhelmingly positive.
The litany of hateful things Republicans have said and done to the GLBT community over the years is well documented. How do you defend your position to those who ask?
Two years before President Bush ever mentioned it, three Democratic congressmen co-sponsored a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage (Ronnie Shows, D-MS; Ralph Hall, D-TX; and David Phelps, D-IL).
As I pointed out earlier, Bill Clinton and John Kerry have had less-than-stellar records regarding same-sex marriage. It was interesting that John Kerry’s biggest selling point to the gay community was that, even though he supported statewide constitutional amendments, he opposed the president’s federal amendment. If he was so opposed to it, why didn’t he bother to show up in the Senate to vote against it?
Fred Phelps, infamous for his ‘God hates fags’ campaign, is a devout Democrat. So devout, in fact, that he campaigned on behalf of Al Gore, and was invited to, and attended, both of Clinton’s inaugurations.
I would go on if I thought you might actually print this, but my point is that neither party is perfect on gay issues, so why vote based on that one thing?
How many members do you currently have?
Ever since the story broke, we’ve received a lot of interest in membership, so right now I really couldn’t give you a number. Let’s just say we’re growing…
Is there any divide among the membership over just how conservative the LCR should be in Maine?
We are unanimous in our mission to elect fair-minded Republican leaders in the State of Maine. If we find more than one running for the same thing (as will probably happen when we go to endorse a candidate for governor this year), we will vote on whom to endorse.
What is the immediate goal of the group?
Short-term goals would include increasing membership and supporting Republican candidates this November.
What is the long-term goal?
The sky’s the limit. Obviously, as a Republican organization we would continue to support fair-minded Republican candidates (which are plentiful in the Northeast) and maybe turn Maine a little more red in the process.
When you worked for Outright [Hincks is a past chairman of the organization’s board of directors], did you ever expose the youth to your Republican views?
When I volunteered at Outright I was also a youth, and I don’t think expose is the term called for here, unless you consider Republican views to be a disease (why would that not surprise me?).
As a youth I frequently attended Drop-In and other programs, and I made a lot of friends at Outright. Naturally, these other youth who knew me well came to learn of my political affiliation.
What was their reaction?
They were usually surprised, but they still consider me a friend.
Other than the national LCR website, what other websites or blogs would you recommend for gays to explore?
There are many gay conservative blogs out there that are easy to find with a search engine. I would also recommend the official websites of the Maine and national GOP to learn more about the Republican party.
There is a man you are interested in, but you discover he is a card-carrying liberal Democrat: Is the romance over?
I’d rather not comment on my personal life.
Any political aspirations of your own?
Not yet, but I’m only 23, so who knows?
Postscript: I can’t let February arrive without letting dear Abraham himself have the last word….
“We, on our side, are praying to Him to give us victory, because we believe we are right; but those on the other side pray to Him, too, for victory, believing they are right. What must He think of us?” (Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865)
A semi-retired arts promoter, Richard Lawlor is co-founder of GFPM Enterprises (producers of GayFunInPortlandMaine.com and The Companionnewspaper). His column, Citizen Dick, runs biweekly.