Gay Repub­li­cans and grudg­ing re­spect

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

psaun­ders@the­gavoice.com

“The gay Repub­li­cans story hap­pened to post to so­cial me­dia the morn­ing af­ter Trump con­tro­ver­sially fired FBI Direc­tor James Comey, so Ge­or­gia Voice read­ers were ex­tra fired up that day. And they let Kennedy and An­der­son have it. Hard.”

It was May 10, the morn­ing af­ter we went to pro­duc­tion on our last is­sue. I was a lit­tle groggy-eyed from spend­ing the pre­vi­ous two days with the staff putting the is­sue to­gether and get­ting it off to the printer when my phone kept ping­ing with no­ti­fi­ca­tions. Peo­ple were leav­ing Face­book com­ments left and right on one of the sto­ries we posted.

That story? “Ge­or­gia gay Repub­li­cans stick­ing by Trump 100 days in.”

It was a fol­low-up to a story we did last June giv­ing in­sight into the minds of LGBT Repub­li­cans in Ge­or­gia who sup­ported then-Pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Trump. The two sup­port­ers we found, who not only agreed to speak on the record but were ea­ger to, were re­tired me­te­o­rol­o­gist Arch Kennedy and Uni­ver­sity of West Ge­or­gia stu­dent Avery An­der­son. With the fol­low-up, we won­dered, af­ter all that hap­pened in that first 100 days, did they still sup­port Trump? The short an­swer was yes. Hell yes. The story came out in our April 28 is­sue, and we posted it on­line on April 26, but we stag­ger the sched­ul­ing of all of our print-to-web sto­ries on so­cial me­dia so they go out into the world over the next two weeks of the print edi­tion’s run.

The gay Repub­li­cans story hap­pened to post to so­cial me­dia the morn­ing af­ter Trump con­tro­ver­sially fired FBI Direc­tor James Comey, so Ge­or­gia Voice read­ers were ex­tra fired up that day. And they let Kennedy and An­der­son have it. Hard.

You can visit the thread to get a taste of the re­ac­tion. Sup­port­ers of the two must have got­ten wind of the story and the com­ments a week later be­cause we then got hit with some peo­ple be­ing angry at the peo­ple be­ing angry about Kennedy and An­der­son’s views and com­ments. And so on and so forth.

The up­roar re­minded me why I’ve al­ways had a cu­ri­ous fas­ci­na­tion with, and grudg­ing re­spect for, gay Repub­li­cans, or at least the ones who will speak up about their views. And I don’t mean the Milo Yiannopouloses of the world – the ones who are clearly just trolling peo­ple to get at­ten­tion and build their brand. I mean the ones who will tell other LGBT peo­ple how they feel po­lit­i­cally and why, know­ing that they’re go­ing to get ab­so­lutely ripped apart by most in re­sponse.

While I ad­mit to that grudg­ing re­spect, what I don’t re­spect is ig­no­rance. Ig­no­rance is dan­ger­ous. And that’s what Kennedy dis­played in his com­ments about sup­port­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion with­draw­ing Pres­i­dent Obama’s guid­ance on keep­ing trans kids safe in pub­lic schools.

“If you have man parts, you use the men’s room and locker. If you have fe­male sex­ual parts, you use the women’s locker room,” he said.

To do oth­er­wise is un­fair to the kids, he said. Yes, the old line about trans peo­ple be­ing sex­ual preda­tors. Which, cu­ri­ously, had al­ways been the line ho­mo­phobes used against gay men.

A cou­ple peo­ple asked why Kennedy and An­der­son were given the spot­light in the first place. The re­ac­tion to the story it­self an­swers that. There are many of us that are clearly miles apart in our views, and that de­serves to be ex­am­ined and dis­cussed.

The vit­riol was not un­ex­pected, and tap­ping into that kind of anger and frus­tra­tion can and of­ten does lead to pos­i­tive change when man­aged with in­tent. But there are also an­swers to be found when the scream­ing sub­sides.

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