Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The drag queens of the conservative right

(I apologize in advance to my drag queen friends for putting them in the same sentence as the conservative extremists -- I merely do this to make a point) 

Who among us can forget the 1980s? I would guess that most of my readers were conscious adults during that glorious decade. Having come to this country as a young teen in the late '70s, I enjoyed the '80s as my time of initiation into the American culture. It was then that I became aware of such iconic symbols as the Brady Bunch, The Doors, and... drag queens. Yes, drag queens. As the struggle for gay equality permeated our collective consciousness, I began to notice a plethora of drag queens in the press's coverage of gay pride events. And a lot of very tough women in leather jackets on motorcycles. Just like most people in that era, I was not aware of any gay people in my immediate circle, so I had to assume that these flamboyant and memorable images were representative of the gay community at large. 

Well, my views grew up. As I learned more, I realized that the lovely drag queens and the charming biker lesbians were but the tip of the gay iceberg, images that in those days had sure shock value and sold news. The vast majority of the gay community, as it turned out, was virtually indistinguishable from heterosexuals. And for this reason, they were not newsworthy. 

I find the attention-grabbing efforts of the conservative extremists at hijacking our national healthcare discussion akin to the coverage of gay pride during the '80s: just the drag queens (though not nearly as charming and genuine) and no average gay people. Does Sarah Palin really represent the entire Republican party? Don't tell me that the hatred spewed hourly by the likes of Rush, Glenn and Bill does not make an average Republican cringe! Where are the voices of reason?

Another group that amazed and surprised my immigrant sensibilities in the 1980s was The Moral Majority. I remember finally someone coming out with the slogan "Moral Majority is neither". Today we have the extreme right purporting to represent the Republican majority and fiscal conservatism. In fact, they do neither. This emperor has no clothes.      

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