Gay lefties have hated gay Tories ever since learning of their existence. The concept baffles them, like pro-life women or alcohol-free wine. Those with long memories are aware of the Conservative Party’s ugly record on gay equality. This is the party of Section 28, of differential consent laws, of fretting about children ‘being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay’. But gay Tories, having largely rehabilitated their party and with many of the major gay rights battles settled favourably, hoped the rainbow flag might finally have space for a stripe of blue.
At London Pride over the weekend, it was clear this is a forlorn hope, for the LGBT+ Conservative contingent found themselves booed while the playing of a video message of support from the Prime Minister attracted jeers. Gay Tories felt ill-treated at what they expected to be an inclusive and tolerant event. Cue much prating that Pride is inherently political — by ‘political’, such people always mean ‘left-wing’ — and that Tory supporters should expect to be alienated for everything from their party’s past, to its deal with the DUP, and government weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. As one LGBT blogger pronounced:
‘It is not discrimination to oppose LGBT+ Conservatives. It is certainly not turning our backs on diversity.’
It’s the wrong kind of diversity, see?
Some years back, the exciting world of grievance Scrabble known as gender studies came up with a new, 22-point word: Homonationalism. Gays were allowing the LGBT agenda to be hijacked by Western imperialists as a cudgel against the Islamic world, which was actually very fond of homosexuals but just couldn’t find the right words to express it. Western gays, the theory ran, should focus more on the iniquities of the West, which in academia are as limitless as the funding potential for research proposals containing the words ‘hegemony’, ‘problematise’, and ‘intersectionality’. That weird alliance between some gays and the far-right is real — see Twinks for Trump and the Le Pen-voting gays of France — yet it is far from prevalent. But it is mirrored on the left, where homorelativism leads Labour LGBT people to excoriate the Tories as soft on homophobia at home while overlooking Jeremy Corbyn’s associations with homophobes abroad.
In part, this is jolly old tribalism. Nothing wrong with that. A bit of Tory-bashing every now and then is good for the soul. But when your Labourism is little more than sentimental anti-Toryism, the temptations of hypocrisy are ever-present. Qualms about the actions of your side can be suppressed, or acknowledged airily amid general throat-clearing, because the other side is obviously wicked and venal. Gay Tories should be booed for Theresa May’s deal with the DUP but the fact that Corbyn accepted £20,000 for appearances on Iran’s Press TV, the propaganda network of a regime that publicly executes gay men, does not stain the ethical character of gay Labour supporters. The Prime Minister’s cozying up to the limb-lopping barbarians of the House of Saud warrants heckling but not the Labour leader’s career of making common cause with Hamas, who kill men accused of sex with other men. Jeremy has a good voting record domestically and so his tendency to line up with homicidal homophobes overseas is excusable.
Once you convince yourself that your opponents are inherently evil, you find yourself engaging in such logical contortions. And when you fasten yourself to the political fortunes of a man like Jeremy Corbyn, you must become fluent in expressions like ‘MSM smear’ and ‘false equivalence’. Those Labour supporters who booed the LGBT+ Conservatives, and those who endorse it, could be honest and admit that gay activists in both main parties are compromised by the actions of their leadership. They might reflect that Labour, the party that did more than any other to make Britain a fairer, safer place for gay men and women, has sullied those achievements by embracing a self-confessed ‘friend’ of Islamists as its leader. Instead, they cheer their own virtue and gays in Iran can go hang.