Alex Blaze

The reality of a gay candidate

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 16, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Craig Lowe, Florida, Gainesville

We hear every now and then about what percentage of Americans are willing to vote, in the abstract, for a gay candidate for president. I always have to wonder how inflated those numbers are by people's unwillingness to confront their own homophobia, as well as the fact that the "all things being equal" premise can't possibly apply because all things aren't equal for straight and queer people in the US.

An openly gay man is running for the mayor of Gainesville (the Florida city that never ceases to impress when it comes to ridiculously homo- and transphobic ad campaigns. This unattributed flyer has appeared in the town:

gay-lowe-poster.png

I haven't seen any evidence that that came from an opposing campaign. For all we know, it could be a work of pop art, considering the... creative lay-out and the ridiculousness of the statements (how does the mayor create "gay communities"?).

But what it does show is that while people generally believe that they could handle an openly gay president because they think that they're generally not homophobic, there comes instances like this where it becomes clear that reality isn't a hypothetical situation.

Notice the traditionally homophobic tropes used in the ad, including men ('m assuming the first bullet point means that, unless they're saying that lesbians will use the women's room, which is already happening) attacking women in public restrooms, gays going after kids in school, and gays taking away people's freedom of religion. None of this stuff is particularly new; they're merely lizard-brain stereotypes that get dragged out near elections to make people vote a certain way that most nice straight people (and many queer people) don't even know were in their heads.

That's when it becomes about "this gay" instead of "gays in general," and suddenly it's not homophobic anymore. Sure, candidates in larger elections will have to be less clumsy than this poster is, but it's not too hard to finesse a stereotype in a way that people don't even know that's what they're buying into. They have a vested interest in not recognizing it, anyway.

Craig Lowe has more faith in the electorate, of course:

He said he wasn't sure whether he would file a complaint.

"I think that the biggest recourse is with the voters," he said.

Good luck!


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OMG! He'll get gays into women's bathrooms?! Will they be giving out free fashion advice and makeup tips while they are in there? I would so vote for Craig if only I was a resident of Gainesville!

Denis Dison | March 16, 2010 4:43 PM

Thanks Alex. It's important to distinguish between rank and file voters who are not preoccupied with the culture wars, and those folks who are obsessed with beating the LGBT community.

Voters typically don't care that much about a candidate's sexual orientation, particularly if they know significantly more than that about him or her. But our enemies will always try to enlist the rank and file in their efforts to keep us marginalized--to varying degrees of success.

That didn't work in Houston back in December, and we've all got our fingers crossed that it won't happen in Gainesville tonight. But sometimes it does work, which is one reason we must continue to support LGBT candidates.

Thanks for stopping by. Good point!

Results from the election yesterday:
Lowe 40.13%
Marsh 29.17%
Cooper 24.86%

Since there's no majority, there will be a runoff between Lowe and Marsh.

"Gays in Women's Restrooms" - more proof, if any was needed, that those who oppose our existence have no clue about our internal divisions. We are all "gay" in their eyes.

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"Gays in Women's Restrooms" - seems pretty obvious that this is an attack on public accommodations for transpeople (transwomen in particular).