|Posted on January 9, 2018 at 1:05 AM|
By Dennis Stone
Everyone knows that gay journalists are all safely ensconced on the left side of the political spectrum. Well, except for a couple of anomalies like Milo Yiannopolous, that is. We take it for granted that anyone who has lived a gay life, and has been immersed in the issues of the gay experience in order to write about them, must have adopted a leftist worldview. Conservatives have been our enemies, after all, historically opposing gay equality and even gay acceptance. When we read the work of gay journalists in outlets like the “Advocate,” “Out,” “HuffPost,” etc., we know what we are going to get.
And then along came Chadwick Moore.
Moore gained attention and a good deal of notoriety in 2016 when he wrote a profile piece on Yiannopolous for “Out” magazine. The piece was lambasted from all corners of the queer and progressive worlds, derided as being a “fawning” and “normalizing” portrait of a vile gay traitor.
The thing is, that was a gargantuan overreaction. The piece was actually a neutral look at a highly visible and newsworthy gay person. I strongly defended the journalistic qualities and appropriateness of the piece in an article I wrote for this site. Gay journalism should not be trapped by the limiting assumption that all writing should be part of a praise/condemnation dichotomy in service of the “movement.” Journalism has always celebrated the neutral examination of controversial people and issues. Gay journalism should be able to do the same, and let readers make up their own minds.
A few months after publication of the piece I was surprised to learn that Moore had turned in his leftist philosophy for a conservative one. He announced the change in a piece in the “New York Post” titled “I’m a gay New Yorker, and I’m coming out as a conservative.” He revealed that the extreme reaction to his “Out” piece had shocked him. He received death threats, accusations of Nazism and worse. Friends and long time bar mates shunned him. His best friend ended the relationship, calling him a monster. In a discussion with a date he mentioned that he opposed Trump’s wall, but believed in strengthening our borders. The date called him a Nazi and left.
All of that caused Moore to rethink his allegiances and his viewpoints. A lifelong liberal, he came to realize that he generally liked conservative people better than liberals. Conservatives were more open-minded. He began to see that he was living in a liberal bubble with people who considered you a traitor if you dared diverge from the accepted way of thinking. He gradually realized he thought more like those on the right than those on the left.
In the “New York Post” piece he talked about how difficult it was to come out as conservative in gay New York, where he lives. The headline of a profile in the “Des Moines Register” (he went to college at the University of Iowa) was: “It was easier for him to be gay in Iowa than conservative in New York.” I don’t doubt any of that for a moment. Despite being gay and liberal myself, I’m highly critical of mainstream gay and progressive people for exactly that reason. There is a huge amount of enforced orthodoxy and intolerance of alternate views.
Since his “conversion” Moore has routinely been dismissed and demeaned in gay and progressive circles as a traitor, an enemy, complicit in our oppression. One piece said this about him: “Asking that the gay community embrace you and your politics is like one turkey asking another to be okay that he voted for the farmer and Thanksgiving.” Put another way, his gay card has been revoked. It’s not hard to see why Moore became disenchanted with the left.
What is curious about all this, though, is not that Moore backed away from his liberalism in the face of the reaction to his Yiannopolous profile. What is curious is that he went almost instantly to a brand of conservatism that embraced Donald Trump and aspects of alt-right philosophy. He became Editor-In-Chief of Milo’s site “Dangerous,” and he sounds like a typical Fox News fan on his Twitter feed. On December 10 he tweeted this: “Man, he’s looking good these days. Keep up the winning, Mr. President. You got this.” His profile on “Scruff” began with “Proud Western chauvinist” and ended with “build that damn wall.”
So what is going on here? How could negative reaction to a published piece in a gay magazine lead this Hillary Clinton voter and lifelong leftist so suddenly to become almost the opposite of what he had been? Why wouldn’t he reject the stridency and unthinking orthodoxy of his critics, and make cogent arguments against them?
To me, there are two possible explanations. Perhaps his progressivism had been superficial, born of an expectation in the gay community that liberalism was inevitable for gays. He never actually thought through his ideology, but just accepted the mantras of the side of the political divide that supported gay people. He read and took to heart the ideology of the “Little Black Book Of Proper Gay and Liberal Thought.”
Related to that explanation is the possibility that his thinking had been gradually evolving away from liberalism and toward conservatism, but he had not really been aware of it. Modulation was occurring, often subconsciously, and sudden awareness hit when the liberal and gay communities attacked him so viciously.
Bubbles are real, and one of the most insidious aspects of our modern life. They afflict liberals and conservatives alike, and supporters of various single issues, from gay rights, to abortion rights, to religious freedom, to immigration foes, and on and on. I am constantly amazed by how shallow is the thinking of so many people today, and how little they expose themselves to any contrary positions or arguments.
Chadwick Moore has stated that he was living in the liberal gay bubble, and it clouded his thinking. The problem is, he seems to have exchanged one bubble for another.
The second possible explanation for his sudden and radical conversion is that he is what some would label today as a “snowflake,” unable to handle criticism. As I’ve expressed before, I consider criticism of Moore’s piece to be extraordinarily unfair, a product of the one-dimensional and bubble-generated thinking of a sizable portion of the gay community. But, fair or unfair, journalists have to expect and deal with criticism. It’s possible Moore was so disconcerted by being attacked from within his bubble that he overreacted and was driven to the other “side,” to people who opposed the people who were attacking him. And once inside that bubble, he allowed his new co-habitants to shape his thinking just as the denizens of his previous bubble had done.
Either conclusion leads me to negative opinions of Moore, but also negative opinions of the current state of our society. Regarding Moore, his political opinions appear to have little depth behind them, whether his previous liberal opinions were simplistic adoptions of the ideology of his peers, or whether his new views are a thin-skinned overreaction to his attackers.
I myself have major issues with a large segment of today’s progressive community, from the intolerance of opposing views to the demonization of conservatives to reflexive reactions to people and events. But none of that has influenced my positions on issues. They have evolved in various ways over time, but they remain overwhelmingly progressive. Some are more progressive than the mainstream, and some are a bit more conservative. But I don’t let my disillusion with the small minded and intolerant actions of some segments of the left influence my principles and positions.
It’s hard to believe that Moore has subconsciously been a Trump-supporting conservative during the recent years of his literary career, and simply woke up when attacked. It’s also hard to believe that attacks from the left, as personal as many of them were, would convert a genuine progressive into a diehard conservative. I believe that it’s very possible that the conversion was a combination of the two factors. Perhaps his underlying thought had been evolving in a more conservative direction in recent years, but the power of the bubble obscured that evolution. Perhaps also the attacks generated an overreaction born of hurt and dismay with the actual intolerance of those attacks.
Despite everything I’ve said above, I think Chadwick Moore is at heart a good man with the potential to be a strongly independent thinker and voice. Everything I’ve read about him points to that potential. I’m hoping that time and reflection bring him to that point. He may well remain a genuine conservative, but I admire thoughtful conservatives even as I disagree with them.
Ultimately I want to smash all the bubbles out there. It will never happen, of course, at least in the foreseeable future. Chadwick Moore has burst out of one bubble, and if he can do it once, he can do it again. It’s a bit like the Matrix, where we have to awaken people one by one! Perhaps that’s a labored metaphor, but it feels right.