Life comes at you fast and furiously, as one gay conservative recently discovered following a horrifying auto collision.

A Twitter user who called Alex, who bills himself “Sassy Gay Republican” went viral after establishing a GoFundMe campaign to help pay medical bills he alleges his insurance is unwilling to cover. This in itself is an all-too-common occurrence in the United States, where healthcare is not considered a fundamental right but a luxury.

 

For argument’s sake, though, let’s assume everything Alex is saying is true, because it provides an interesting news angle into something the gay community needs to reckon with: the growing number of young, white gay men attracted to the far-right and neo-fascist movements.

 


First, let’s clear something up. Debating Alex’s views on health care misses the wider point and is, in fact, a waste of time. He isn’t a hypocrite. Alex has said he is against state-funded healthcare but has no problem begging strangers online for a handout.

American conservatives opposed to public health care contend that individuals are responsible for their own medical coverage, and charity (including crowdfunding on sites like GoFundMe) is one way to do that. The argument isn’t that people shouldn’t willingly pool resources to help one another, but rather that they shouldn’t be forced to pool resources through taxation, which is what socialised medicine requires.

Regardless of what you think about the state’s role in providing healthcare (and I fundamentally disagree with Alex here), but he’s not a hypocrite. This is ideologically consistent.

 


Yet debating this one point is to miss the forest for the trees. While this whole incident raises a lot of interesting questions – about healthcare, about the role of Twitter in political discourse, about the power imbalance between celebrities and the rest of us (Chrissy Teigan helped this story to go viral) – the most jarring question is why Alex is a Trump-supporting “redhat” to begin with. How did this young white gay man arrive at such a radically different worldview to the majority of our community and why do so many other young white gay men seem to be following down the same path?

I touched on this earlier this year in an essay for my blog, The Curious American. It largely piggybacks off an article by Laurie Penny which discusses her experiences with Milo Yiannopolous – the standard-bearer for the gay hard right – and his acolytes. Since then, several other pieces have been written on the gay attraction to neo-fascist movements in the US, UK, and Germany. In an article for the New Yorker (which later appeared at The Cut), Maureen O’Connor explains that “gay men are remarkably prominent – if not exactly abundant – in the alt-right universe,” mentioning Yiannopolous, the journalist Chadwick Moore (whom I wrote about for the Independent in February), and “Twinks 4 Trump” founder and Gateway Pundit blogger Lucian Wintrich as standard bearers of this homofascist movement.

O’Connor, as I did in my essay for The Curious American, links the gay appeal of the “alt-right” (which to be clear is really just doublespeak for far-right, neofascism, and white supremacy) to a hypermasculine yet camp aesthetic. It sounds paradoxical, but it makes perfect sense that hypermasculinists such as Trump would appeal to camp, flamboyant men like Yiannopolous and Wintrich who fetishise “Daddy” (as they call Trump) and Black men (in the case of Yiannopolous).

In doing so, they knowingly play on the stereotype of Black men as “bulls” who are hypersexual and dominant – a trope that goes back to Jim Crow when Black men were painted as sexually predatory and a threat to white women and white womanhood. Meanwhile, other gay men swoon over the leader of the so-called “alt-right movement” Richard Spencer, who has been held up as a far-right sex symbol by even the mainstream media.

Still, other gay men are attracted to the far-right movements currently gaining traction in the mainstream because of an innate Islamophobia. Trump and his ilk used the Pulse massacre – in which an American-born Muslim slaughtered 49 people at a gay dance club in Orlando – to stoke Islamophobia within the gay community. It worked remarkably well, not just in the United States, but abroad. As CNN reported earlier this month, many German gay men are turning to the hard-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party because of anti-Muslim prejudice. The party opposes same-sex marriage, yet that doesn’t matter to their gay supporters who view Islam as a violent, existential threat to themselves.

 

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While ISIS clearly has some medieval views on homosexuality and routinely throws gay men off roofs, this is like comparing Ugandan Christians (who routinely execute LGBT people) to MIke Pence, whose own evangelical beliefs are used to justify his opposition to LGBT equality. In America, the majority of Muslims think it’s fine to be gay – far outstripping their evangelical Christian counterparts.

In Britain, the picture is bleaker – just over half of British Muslims polled think homosexuality should be illegal while most Christians have liberalised their views on homosexuality since 1990. But when you look at hate crime statistics, most anti-gay violence in the US, UK, and Germany is perpetrated by non-Muslims – complicating the argument that Islam is the greatest threat to Western gays, regardless of polled views.

Which brings us back to Alex, whose tweets (two of which I’ve posted above) illustrate a deep but unwarranted Islamophobia. Whether this was the primary motivation for him to support Trump, I don’t know. After all, whilst he’s vehemently pro-Trump, he seems to oppose Vice President Mike Pence, who is notoriously homophobic and anti-gay.

 

This really underscores a key point. Many of these gay men who are fascinated with the alt-right are turned off by traditional conservatism as defined by the Tory Party in the UK, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats in Germany, and the Republican establishment in the USA. That is a conservatism that plays on outright prejudices (making opposition to same-sex marriage a key platform, for example) whilst the “alt-right” – while nearly universally opposing LGBT civil rights – feigns acceptance and even borrows from gay culture (with the camp shtick of Yiannopolous and Wintrich and the hypermasculine ideal of others).

Indeed, Alex himself, in a filmed diatribe released following his viral tweets, says that his sexuality isn’t an issue at Trump rallies. Yet this anecdote isn’t backed up by any polling data currently available: 59% of Trump supporters oppose same-sex marriage according to a Rasmussen poll from June. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll earlier this month found only 37% of Trump voters back equal marriage.

 

Alex is but one young man, but he is indicative of a larger trend of white gay men moving to the far right. His sudden viral fame provides an excellent jumping off point not to debate the merits of crowdfunded healthcare but rather to ask ourselves, as a community, why so many of our young men are being drawn to a decidedly anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim movement.

This is something the wider LGBT community is going to have to grapple with over the coming years, and while I fully recognise I don’t present many answers here, I think it’s time we start talking about why young white gay men like Alex are radicalising, and what it means for the wider LGBT movement. Because right now, these alt-right gay men are driving the entire community towards a head-on collision with fascism.

 

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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.