The Gay Word
April 1st, 2012 - R. Rados (updated April 7th, 2012)
Gay and liberal have become interdependent in our lexicon. If someone says “gay”, our minds automatically default to “liberal” when we attempt to speculate about a person's political ideals. Hearing the words gay and conservative in the same sentence is truly rare, unless someone is describing a conflict between the two or trying to slander a conservative by attacking his sexuality. However, it seems our society may be on the cusp of change.
In January, The Huffington Post acknowledged that Stephen Harper's Conservative government has emerged as a global leader in gay rights. This story arose from the controversy over nullified gay marriages between some non-citizens. The issue was quickly corrected by Canada's majority Conservative government and gay marriages became universally recognized through the closure of a loophole. This didn't happen until after liberal media tried to slander Harper's government and blame him for a loophole that was actually the result of poor Liberal legislation.
Despite Canada's strong affirmation of gay rights, there are still those within the Conservative party who have remained disparate. Or seemed to remain disparate. A few years earlier, Jason Kenney, Canada's Immigration Minister, reportedly pulled all references to gay rights from a study guide for new immigrants. These actions seem antithetical when we compare them to some of the more discreet positions held by the Conservative Party – or by Kenney himself.
In June of 2011, following their majority victory, several gay Conservatives held their own unofficial party called the "Fabulous Blue Tent" party, which has become an annual event at convention. In attendance was Jason Kenney, who tweeted, “Great view of Parliament Hill from the top of the Ottawa Westin, at The Fabulous Blue Tent party,” with a photo of his view. One of the event's organizers was Kenney's former aide, Jamie Ellerton, who ordered the pink and blue lights and catering services for the event.
Just like Kenney, John Baird is a tough-talking Conservative that apparently doesn't like to be open about his own personal life. In an interview with a CBC radio program in Toronto on February 2nd, 2010, Conservative candidate, Pamela Taylor, was asked why there are no openly gay Conservatives. “Openly? John Baird,” she said. Taylor then went on to claim that “there are lots of others”.
Many obvious facts have been deliberately side-stepped and avoided by major Canadian media organizations. The Fabulous Blue Tent party saw a brief 45 seconds worth of air time on CBC, a few minutes on CTV, and likewise on Global. It seems that Canadian media has taken an overly cautious approach when covering the implied sexual orientation of some Conservatives. The question is: why?
During Pamela Taylor's CBC radio interview, Andy Barrie showcased the classic liberal mentality that leads many Canadians to believe that conservatives can't be openly gay. The fact that Barrie didn't bother to press Taylor on the issue only proves how unprepared he was for her answer. He was actually expecting her to prove his point by stumbling and failing to provide an answer at all.
It turns out that there are openly gay conservatives. We just don't hear much about them because the media deliberately avoids the issue.
The truth is, John Baird has been a warrior for the gay and lesbian community. He has consistently avoided voting with many of his fellow Tories against legislation that advances gay rights. It also turns out that John Baird is revered and respected by Ottawa's gay community. Baird not only attends annual gay pride events, he has publicly condemned gay rights abuses in Africa. He has also been known to frequent Byzantium, a Toronto cocktail lounge that prides itself for being “the grand matriarch of the gay village”.
The liberal Canadian media venues that have covered Baird's sexuality, like Rabble, have attempted to make the media's “cover-up” look like a way to keep Baird's “hypocrisy” out of the public eye. Rabble, which claims to be “news for the rest of us”, behaves exactly like a biased liberal smear machine by framing anything remotely positive about conservatism into a conspiracy or scandal. Also, in a silly article written for Mediastyle, Ian Capstick suggests that the Ottawa Citizen purposefully avoided publishing Byzantium's status as a gay bar to protect Baird and to hide his hypocrisy – because, according to Capstick, being gay and conservative is hypocritical. You can waste some of your precious time by reading his article here.
There are three truths that Canadians need to accept. One, the Canadian media doesn't avoid covering the sexuality of prominent conservatives and Conservatives to hide their hypocrisy – the Canadian media avoids such coverage to protect the liberal perception that all conservatives are homophobic. Two, wanting a smaller government, more economic freedom, and stronger social values is not exclusive to heterosexuals. Three, balanced and unbiased reporting died decades ago.
It is true that Conservatives (small C and big C) have a lot of work to do. There are, in fact, those among them that do find homosexuality and lesbianism morally wrong. Down south, Rick Santorum and Kirk Cameron are evidence of this. In Canada, we still have our fair share of conservative homophobia. However, modern conservatives are beginning to embrace more libertarian views on sexuality and victimless acts. Ron Paul, a Republican Congressman from Texas, has openly supported gay rights during several debates on same-sex mariage. It seems that such ideas are becoming far more mainstream amongst conservatives than liberals would like to admit. Through the admission that Harper's Conservatives are now a global leader in gay rights, it appears that Canada is one step ahead.
As words and terminologies continue to evolve, we have no idea what conservatism might mean in a hundred years. What we can gather is that the union of gay and conservative will cease to be as much of a taboo as it is today. Liberal scholars, intellectuals, and word creators won't be able to maintain the association between bigotry and conservatism for much longer – unless, of course, bigotry somehow evolves into gay and the two words become synonymous. If you're like me, you wouldn't put it past a group of limousine liberals with PHDs to reconfigure the English language for their own political gain.