Friday, June 24, 2005

Gay Republicans

Gay Republicans is exactly what its title suggests: a documentary about gay Republicans. Four individual members of the Log Cabin Republicans speak about their political views and their agonizing over how to balance their support for a sitting Republican President against that President's avowed support of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Mark Harris, an "outspoken grass-roots organizer" in Los Ángeles, doesn't find a problem in continuing to support Bush in spite of the marriage amendment, since he's quite comfortable around other Republicans — as long as he remains completely closeted. Of course, it doesn't seem to occur to him that he could just as easily remain closeted as a Republican when he's among other gay people.

I would feel much more at home in a room full of Republicans than a room full of gay people. Reason being: Gays judge other gays. Republicans don't know unless you're wearing a name-tag that says, Hi I'm Mark I'm gay. That's why to me, being gay is not even an issue. — Mark Harris

Carol Newman, a lawyer who switched from Libertarian to Republican because she was tired of voting for an "also-ran" party, ends up travelling to Massachusetts to legally marry her partner. She comes to realize that, while the Republicans were once a fairly small-L libertarian party, the Bush faction has moved sharply from that heritage. She comes to the conclusion that she cannot support Bush in the wake of his endorsement of the Federal Marriage Amendment, holding out hope all the way through the Republican National Convention that Bush would distance himself from the homophobes.

For the president to propose institutionalized discrimination against gay people, when he had gay people standing up in support of his re-election, it just cut the knees out right from under us — and we don't know what we're going to do. — Carol Newman

Steve May, a lifelong Republican and former Arizona state legislator, was once the poster boy for young gay Republicans. However, he came to the conclusion that the Republican Party had been hijacked by the radical right, and so he made the only principled decision possible: he endorsed John Kerry and worked to defeat George W. Bush.

He made a cold calculated political decision, this is all about core politics, it's all about satisfying the people in the far right. And that day George Bush decided who his friends are and who his friends aren't. And he did not pick me to be his friend. — Steve May

Maurice Bonamigo is a fuh-LAY-ming-ly flamboyant hairdresser in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he and his wealthy friends remain completely committed to Bush, even going so far as to endorse the marriage amendment. In fact, the Palm Beach chapter of Log Cabin Republicans was expelled from the national organization because it insisted on endorsing Bush despite the national decision to withhold any endorsement. Bonamigo dreams of running for Congress in 2006, hoping to be the East Coast's answer to Representative Sonny Bono, or the South's answer to Senator Rick Santorum. To put it bluntly, Bonamigo is so vapid, so inanely oblivious, he doesn't even realize that he's a joke. He's either incredibly stupid or entirely lacking a sense of humor — or both. Indeed, his objection to Jimmy Carter centers on the fact that, unlike Reagan or Bush Sr., Carter wore sweaters instead of a proper suit in the White House.

I get very offended by this organization [Log Cabin Republicans] when they're saying, well I'm not going to support Bush, I'm not giving any more money, he betrayed us. Oh, for crying out loud! Get over yourselves. Be a Republican. Be a man. Get your balls out of your purse and start wearing them like a man. — Maurice Bonamigo

I recommend the film, not only for the thoughtful portrayals of Carol Newman and Steve May, but also for the mind-warping experience of watching the delusions of Mark Harris and especially Maurice Bonamigo unfold on screen. Just be sure to wear a paper bag over your head — not for anonymity, but to protect the upholstery if your brain explodes.

GAY REPUBLICANS, dir. Wash Westmoreland, 2004 USA, 63 min. video, distribution: World of Wonder

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