Breaking out of gay gridlock

by Marvin Liebman

The Washington Blade, 4 June 1993, p. 41

At a time which presents us with our greatest challenges and opporlunities, the gay male and lesbian community finds itself in gay gridlock.

We, who have always been outside the straight Establishment, now find ourselves captives of an establishment and bureaucracy we created: the Human Rights Campaign Fund, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and such satellite groups as the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund; the Campaign For Military Service, Coalition '93, and countless others. With only rare exception, this powerful Establishment has become the captive apologist for the Democratic Party and its leader, President Bill Clinton.

Our community is under attack from all quarters. The self-anointed "Christian" right have declared open war on us. They are joined by right-wing Republicans such as Jesse Helms, Oliver North, and Pat Buchanan. The Democratic Party is represented by the anti-gay Sen. Sam Nunn (and his new-found and already rejected ally Rep. Barney Frank) rather than the president who seems to have weakened in his pledged commitment to equal rights for Gays. Our military, led by anti-gay Gen. Colin Powell, has been permitted and invited by the commander-in-chief to enter the political arena.

The forces arrayed against us are formidable. Their attack is increasing in power and virulence. What positive action is our Establishment taking to counter them other than reacting to each new blow? The only response from our mainstream gay organizations seems to be to hold more black-tie fund-raisers to support Democratic candidates. It's all rather like the Mad Hatter's tea party.

I believe that the majority of the Gay community has lost confidence in our Establishment organizations, and the organizations seem to have lost touch with their own constituency. We are a widely diverse and multifaceted community. Yet, our major organizations are still mostly white, male, liberal Democrats and contemptuous of those parts of our community which may somehow shock or frighten the straight world and those of us still hiding in the closet Q our leather queens, bull dykes, drag queens, transvestites, and just ordinary queers who never wear ties, dresses, tuxedos, or gowns.

On the sidelines so far, we have the gay male and kesbian Republicans represented by the national Log Cabin Clubs -(of which I am a member) and the newly-organized lobbying group, Log Cabin Republicans, which I serve as chair. In spite of a national membership and chapters throughout the country, we have not yet been able to establish a presence in Washington. However perverse and bizarre it may appear, though, it is this group that probably represents one of the best hopes for our community's future.

Having obligations to no one, gay Republicans can exert a powerful rcle in articulating our positions and pointing a finger at the politicians of both parties and at our own Establishment organizations. We have the capacity to be a force for change in both the Republican Party and the gay community. However, gay Republicans must prove that we have the courage and resources to take center stage. There are many, many gay Republicans throughout the country and in Congress who remain in the closet. If we are to make a difference, they must join with me and the other men and women of Log Cabin and publicly come out and take their part in the battle for our very lives.

Our community has been placed in a dangerous and unreasonable position by this blind adherence to a party and a president who have given us only a few crumbs and not much more. This represents an historically dangerous path for our community. Wouldn't it be wise to hedge our bets a bit?

We must look to and learn from other American movements for civil rights and social justice. We should try to emulate the public action and organizations of, for instance, the American Jewish community which have proved so effective in curbing discrimination and gaining acceptance. The Gay Establishment organizations have permitted themselves to be taken over by the Democratic Party. It is time now for us to move into the Republican Party and to find an alternate and a new voice for our future.