Friday, September 17, 2010

Jörg Haider and the Right-Wing Gay Connection

"Jörg Haider war nicht schwul" reads a cover line of Germany's leading gay magazine, Männer (see image, right). In English, that headline means "Jörg Haider was not gay."

If you believe Wikipedia, then it's illegal, following an Austrian court ruling, to call the late nationalist Austrian politician gay or to say he had male lovers. But I'm not Austrian, and I don't always believe Wikipedia, so I don't have to change my opinion.

Today, the English-language online news site Austrian Independent reports that a member of one of Haider's right-wing parties, Vienna Freedom Party official Gerald Ebinger, had used Haider's alleged homosexuality as a selling point when trying to get gay Austrians to support his party. This led to an argument with officials from the party that Haider created after leaving the Freedom Party, but that's too uninteresting to recount here.

My own probably safe guess is that Haider was gay. Rumors of his sexuality apparently followed him for many years, and he famously died after crashing his VW Phaeton following a visit to a local gay bar. I think it's very, very safe to say that xenophobic, ultra-right wing conservative politicians don't visit gay bars to use the restroom or get directions.

I've read articles in gay publications expressing shock, yes shock, that there are gay right-wingers, but it doesn't surprise me, and the sooner people get over it and get real, the better off we'll be. As a friend of mine said back at the University of Wisconsin in the 1980s, just because you're gay doesn't mean you can't hate communism. (A corollary is that just because you hate communism doesn't mean you're a right-winger, but that's another blog post.) And just because you're gay, it doesn't mean you're sensitive, or smart, or nice. It might be nice if it were otherwise, but that's the truth. People are people.

One would think we've seen enough right-wing politicians and political activists come out of the woodwork and come out of the closet to make us realize that one's sexuality doesn't dictate one's politics. I'm gay, but my politics straddle center-Left to center-Right. True, I won't vote for a far-Right candidate, but that's because I was raised in a good family and a fine church, not just because I love my partner. I've never been tempted to become a Log Cabin Republican, because I think the Republicans have turned their backs on any real semblance of moderation. Or science and rationality, for that matter. But I have known Log Cabin Republicans, and I respect them, if not their faith in their party.

But David Brock. Larry "I'm still not gay" Craig. J. Edgar Hoover. Edward L. Schrock. Hell, go back to Ernst Rohm, who was done in by a little wacko named Adolf Hitler. this is no longer something that should surprise people. Ideas and political philosophies matter. Sexuality shouldn't.

I'll leave you with the image to the left. Simply because I like it. And it in no way makes me right-wing.

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