“Why would a person choose a life where they will be hated, judged, and rejected by society?” This was one of the first arguments I learned to defend myself against in arguments about my sexuality. In the late 1990s, it was perceived as a powerful call to the humanity of those who opposed gay rights under the notion that it was merely a lifestyle choice.
The idea was that if we could appeal to others’ sense of compassion for our social plight, perhaps they could understand the effects of their intolerance. I often fantasized about breaking through the walls of prejudice and somehow speaking to the heart of someone who did not yet realize I was just a person like them.
To be a conservative means to be forced to choose when to speak and when to remain silent, since offending someone on the left, even mildly or by accident, is a social battle you may not be able to win. To be a conservative means carefully regulating your speech and constructing opinions in such a way as to avoid being banned from the public square. To be a conservative means to be a marginalized voice, suppressed and dehumanized; bullied into hesitating to speak out.
Stop Flaunting Your Conservatism
When I was out in high school and complained about bullying, taunting, and rejection from my peers, I was repeatedly told that I should stop “flaunting” my sexuality in front of people. My grandmother would often ask why I felt the need to shout from the rooftops that I was gay. My dad often asked me to tone down my gayness to avoid embarrassment and confrontation.
I did not find my personal expression that outrageous or provocative, but I became far more self-conscious of what I said and how. The complaint was that, by being openly gay, I was provoking people who were happier not being confronted with something uncomfortable to them. Today I hear the same things when I see conservatives express concern over censorship and the left dismisses us as hateful bigots upset that our intolerant worldview is disappearing from society.
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