The Gay Republican Conundrum


I'm constantly asked about it, for some reason. Here's an exchange in the new MW interview that may help clarify things:

MW: Given the case that you make in the book about the Republican party being taken over by fundamentalists who are so hostile to gays and lesbians, is there a point where it becomes ethically or morally wrong to be gay and Republican?

SULLIVAN: Having never been institutionally in the Republican Party, I never had to face that dilemma, but I've seen people who have. I was very proud of Log Cabin for not endorsing Bush in 2004. I think Patrick [Guerriero] did a spectacular job under insanely difficult circumstances.

I don't know how gay Republicans can exist today unless they are actively out and actively fighting the forces within their party that are aligned against us. There is no space for, 'I'm just going along to get along.' No. We're at war with these people, and they've made that very clear. The Mary Cheney option is contemptible at this point. Either you fight back from within - and I mean fight back from within, which is an honorable position to take - or you leave and fight from outside for the principles you believe in. But the coward option, I think, has to be called by its name. It is that. You're enabling these people. At some point it's sick. It becomes masochistic.

I'm never going to force that decision on anybody else, because I'm not judging anybody. But I've seen a lot of gay people in the Republican Party - just go to the Duplex Diner on Thursday night, it's not like it's a mystery. I know the strain that this has put on a lot of them and I know good people torn up about this. I just call them to stand up for themselves. That's all I'm doing. We can sit here and we can judge and we can condemn, but as gay people we've been judged and condemned. Maybe we should be a little forgiving of one another, but at the same time, urging people to come forward and fight. It's not easy. It's never been easy. Our lifetime as gay men has been bewildering, to be honest.

But we dealt with it through this terrible plague as well, this hideous illness that struck so many people down. And the current younger generation I don't think even understands what we went through, what we witnessed. For me that's the fuel. The ashes of all the people I loved who are dead keep me going. I promised one of my best friends that I would not give up. And that's still very much a part of my identity. I am a child of the plague and I will never, never forget that. For some of us, that changed us forever. It gave us a sort of intensity and drive that the younger generation cannot know because they are lucky enough to have escaped it.

(Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP.)