|Posted on February 11, 2017 at 1:10 AM|
By Dennis Stone
I haven’t posted any pieces here recently, but I’ve had several great ideas. My primary goal in my writing over the past couple of months has been to try to produce output that can be published by mainstream sites or magazines. At the same time I want to communicate ideas that are a bit outside of the mainstream. After all, how many more pieces do we need decrying how awful Trump is, or highlighting the latest inanities of the far right wing goofballs? Any idiot can write pieces like that, and those pieces add nothing to the conversation or to our understanding.
After the election I wrote what I still humbly feel was one of the most illuminating explorations of the forces at play in the election and our immediate reaction to it on the left. (Hey, they always say you can’t get anywhere without confidence!) But no one was interested. It wasn’t a one dimensional “we hate Trump” hit piece, and those were what filled ALL gay and left wing sites. No room for nuance, or, gasp, self reflection.
My piece about having a certain level of respect for the Log Cabin Republicans generated some interest. It would have been a gamble for a gay or left oriented site, and would have generated some backlash. An editor was intrigued, and considered trying to find a way to publish it. But that was BEFORE the election, and the atmosphere following the election completely ruled out that sort of multi-dimensional contrariness. In addition to being against the perceived queer zeitgeist it would have pushed out another “We Hate Trump!” piece, and we can never have too many of those!
As I said earlier, the past couple of months have generated several story ideas that would have explored issues from different angles, or expressed contrarian opinions. I strongly believe alternative viewpoints like these need to be expressed and read. We are stuck in our safe little bubble worlds, as always listening only to those with whom we already agree, and following to the letter the prescriptions of the “The Little Black Book Of Proper Liberal Thought.” We need to break down the walls around us, look at the world with fresh eyes, and expand our understanding. Alas, it won’t happen. Not in the foreseeable future, and perhaps not ever.
And so I realized that if I want to be published I have to dial back my contrarian nature, and get in line with mainstream thought. The question and the trick becomes figuring out how to be mainstream while still marginally expanding the conversation. I just can’t bring myself to write a “We Hate Trump” piece. But where is the sweet spot between that sort of inanity and the sort of challenging piece my nature wants to produce?
Don’t get me wrong. In no way am I laying the blame solely at the feet of my queer and left wing compatriots. The right wing does exactly the same thing. Fox News, Breitbart, et al, are not going to be publishing any pieces that mitigate their admiration for Trump, or their disdain for Obama and the Democrats. There are as few independent thinkers on the right as on the left. There are as few writers who exalt and practice nuance and self reflection.
The bottom line is sad and disheartening. There is no place in the publishing world for gay or left wing people who don’t follow the playbook, and there is no place for conservative people who diverge from the right wing gospel. We need a queer media outlet that wants to look at things from multiple angles, that - horrors! - publishes pieces by queer conservatives or even queer liberals who don’t blindly follow the party line. We need a Huffington Post that generates a genuine back and forth debate between competing views. We need a Breitbart that believes in conservatism but that also believes in challenging the tenets of conservatism, at least once in awhile.
I’m a dreamer. That’s what made me a progressive at the age of fifteen, and why I continue to believe in progressive ideals. But that is also why I want us to critically look at ourselves, and to engage in honest, open minded conversation with people who see the world differently. Is that really too much to ask? Alas, I’m not enough of a dreamer to be able to answer “no” to that question.