Editors' Note: Guest blogger Robert Turner is president of the DC Chapter of Log Cabin Republicans.
We often use race and gender as a way to shame or silence our adversaries. But we should try to go beyond skin color to genuine ideas. We are not, thankfully, in the old days of segregation and Jim Crow, but neither are we within a post-racial world yet. In order to get beyond race, we need to deal honestly with people who try to use race to divide or deride.
Bilerico contributor Alex Blaze recently wrote about how the leadership of Log Cabin Republicans is so "white and male." While Mr. Blaze drew the reader in by first talking solely about the national board of Log Cabin, he swiftly pulled a bait and switch further into his column by expanding his examination to all leadership positions within the organization.
So imagine my surprise when he asked is it really "that there are almost no queer people of color or women who are Republican?" Or his odd statement of questioning why "women and minorities are less likely to be in leadership positions" within the gay right. At first glance, I thought 'so what?' But something kept me coming back to his piece.
As a black man who's President of DC Log Cabin Republicans, I should be offended. But I'm not. It is nothing more than the status quo from the gay left.
The Log Cabin Republicans are a cross-section of not only the Grand Ole Party, but also of the LGBT community. In the last presidential election, 27% of gays voted Republican. We range from RINOs to right-wingers to proud members of the Tea Party. We are well off and upwardly mobile, as well as lower to middle class just getting by. We are white, black and brown; male and female, and even transgender.
But this is an anathema to what liberals believe. The left believes the Republican Party, and to much affect the Tea Party movement, is a bunch of rich, white guys who are surely sexist and racist. But tell that to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, or New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez. Or better yet, the dozen or so minority freshman Republicans elected to Congress last year who were supported by the Tea Party, but I digress.
One couldn't help but wonder if our protagonist had taken the same strict scrutiny to our counterparts, the National Stonewall Democrats. While a quick cursory look at their webpage showed an abundance of lesbians on their Board of Directors, there was a dearth of minorities. Still, no questions as to where are the black and brown gay Democrats in leadership positions.
Perhaps it doesn't matter that Log Cabin Republicans have women and minorities leading strong chapters in places like DC, Chicago, and San Diego. That's merely an inconvenient truth!
Being a gay Republican is sometimes tough because both sides of the political spectrum discount us. Some on the right don't think we're true conservatives. To the left, my individualism reeks of selfishness, self-hate, and even betrayal by some. How silly to think the rainbow flag we hold so dear as a community represents strength through diversity.
But throwing in the additional identifier of being black or brown can often cause apoplectic shock to those in the other party. So when they say they don't mean to bean count, that's exactly what they mean to do. You see, we create a chasm in the gay left's demand for political solidarity.
The type of presumed innocence espoused by Mr. Blaze isn't compelling at all. When our modern movement first started back at Stonewall, one seriously doubt any of the early questions asked were "To which party do you belong?" or "Do we have enough dark people in our ranks?" The question on everyone's mind was about whom among the gathered masses would stand up and fight; stand up for equality.
When I was first elected President of the DC Chapter of Log Cabin Republicans last year, I declined to make an issue of being the first black president of a chapter. I believed, then and now, that my race should not be an issue. My talents and energies as an activist should be the measuring stick of my success.
To paraphrase Dr. King, we should not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of our character. The Log Cabin Republicans - especially the DC Chapter -- have moved beyond bean counting. When will Mr. Blaze and the gay left?