There's a little something I noticed in the reaction to my first article here at the Guardian – a question tucked in the midst of the hundreds of pithy and thoughtful reader contributions – I was asked: what is it like to be gay and conservative?
After all, those conservatives hate the homos, don't they? It must be very, very difficult for me, one concerned reader noted, to be among the intolerant and hateful.
Well, I do suppose I would rather bask in the unbridled sunlight of liberal values of fairness, tolerance and love so eloquently on display in many of the comments made on my first contribution here. I know, it seems like such an odd decision, to reject the Eden of the liberal establishment. Yet strangely, after having been on the left for so long myself, I began to wonder: how much love and understanding can one person take?
Presumably, "batshit crazy"is an English liberal term of endearment, right? When I read another commenter's description of American conservative women politicians as "a bunch of petty, incoherent shrews", I was filled with joy at realising how great it was to be among authentic feminists once again.
Having made my point, I trust, I'll now slip out of my snark suit and share a little secret with you. The real story of bigotry and intolerance is the fact that it lives and thrives on the left. As a gay woman who spent most of her adult life pushing the cart for liberal causes with liberal friends in a liberal city, I found that sexism, racism and homophobia are staples in the liberal world. The huge irony is liberals spend every ounce of energy promoting the notion that they are the banner carriers of individualism and personal freedom, yet the hammer comes down on anyone who dares not to conform to, or who dissents even in part from, the liberal agenda.
Think about what would happen if you did act up? If you dared to say you like Sarah Palin, or admire Margaret Thatcher, or think global warming is a hoax, or think Bill Clinton is a sexual predator, or that George W Bush isn't to blame for everything, or that Barack Obama has absolutely no clue what he's doing, you know there would be a price to pay. Odds are that your "liberal" friends would very liberally hate you. At the very least, being shunned would be your new experience, condemning you to suffer that horrific liberal malady called social death.
So, when it comes to my comfort level as a conservative who happens to be gay, here's what I know: while many conservatives are people of faith and their religion promotes a very different point of view than mine on homosexuality (and a few other things!), I have found conservatives to be more tolerant, more curious and more understanding of those who are different to them than I ever did when ensconced in US liberal leadership.
Are there religious extremists on the right? Of course, but they are marginalised and rejected. As an example, this year at CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Committee), considered the premier, annual conservative gathering in America, a speaker stepped up to the podium and began verbally to attack gays and lesbians. He was summarily booed from the stage by a conservative audience that refused to allow such bigotry to continue.
As you might have gathered, I prefer the honest, decent and genuinely accepting friends and family I have in the conservative world. We don't always agree on everything, but isn't that the point? – being able to be yourself, make choices that best suit you, without fear of punishment or retribution. My friendships and relationships in the conservative world are not predicated on political correctness and enforced conformity of thought. They are based, instead, on mutual respect, honesty and understanding – concepts many modern liberals should consider revisiting.
(By Tammy Bruce, The Guardian UK)