Arts & Entertainment

The Betrayal Of Our Gay Inheritance

By Andrew Sullivan

How has the new trans left come to resemble the old religious right?

It was, as it turned out, a bit of a non-event. The walkout by transgender Netflix employees and their supporters to demand that the company take down and apologize for the latest Chappelle special attracted “dozens,” despite media hype.

But the scenes were nonetheless revealing. A self-promoting jokester showed up with a placard with the words “We Like Jokes” and “We Like Dave” to represent an opposing view. He was swiftly accosted by a man who ripped the poster apart, leaving the dude with just a stick, prompting the assailant to shout “He’s got a weapon!” Pushed back by other protestors, he was then confronted by a woman right in front of him — shaking a tambourine — and yelling repeatedly into his face: “Repent, motherfucker! Repent! Repent!”

This is the state of what’s left of the gay rights movement in America. Judgmental, absolutist, intolerant, and hysterical, it looks to shut down speech it dislikes, drive its foes out of the public square, compile enemies’ lists of dangerous writers, artists, and politicians, and cancel and protest anything that does not comport with every tiny aspect of their increasingly deranged ideology.

The generation that now leads the movement does not seem to know the actual history of the gay rights movement, or the centrality of free expression to gay identity. They also seem to have no idea of the history of the movement against gay rights. Because if they did, they might be shocked at the ironies involved.

Anti-gay forces, hegemonic for centuries, were just like these trans activists. They were just as intent on suppressing and stigmatizing magazines, shows, and movies they believed were harmful. They too targeted individual artists and writers for personal destruction. They too believed that movies and comedy needed to be reined in order to prevent social harm. They protested in front of movie theaters. They tried to get shows canceled. And if you’d marched in any gay demo or Pride in the 1990s, you’d always be prepared to confront a grimacing Christianist yelling “Repent! Repent!” in your face.

In fact, it’s hard not to see the trans far left as a farcical replay of the Religious Right of the past. They are the Dana Carvey church ladies of our time, except instead of saying “Could it be Satan?!” when confronting some cultural or moral transgression, they turn to the camera, clutch their pearls, and say “Could it be whiteness?!”


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