Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What the hell is a lifestyle, anyway?

Matt over at It's Matt's World discusses a comment thread over at Illinipundit about Republicans, gays, gay Republicans, and marriage. Go read it; it's interesting.

The discussion over at IP started with a post from one of the IP guys decrying the reprehensible Judy-Topinka-is-friend-with-dirty-fags smear campaigning going on over at Cut-and-paste, if you want. I'm not linking that so as not to raise their PageRank.

I just wanted to comment on the sort of language coming from the comment Matt links to. Not that there's anything particularly unusual in the comment itself; it is the standard boilerplate text of the Republican Christian Right:

I love all people regardless of who, what, when, where and what lifestyle they live. But it does NOT mean I have to agree with the lifestyle.

There's a blog post I've been meaning to finish about words that have lost all their meaning and have become code for something else. "Lifestyle" is pretty much the top of the list. When right-wing Christians complain about the "homosexual lifestyle," I just want to throw my hands up in exasperation. What exactly does that mean? It brings up mental images of Stepford-esque queers all sitting around in identical slacks and pink shirts, sitting around drinking tea, and discussing how to best recruit your sons* into their irresistible way of life.

Let's be honest. The "homosexual lifestyle" as Republicans use the term consists of the following: being gay. Period. That's it. There is no other behavior or action or trait that means you live the lifestyle. The term applies equally to both a boring suburban pair of white dads raising an otherwise-unadopted, mentally disabled, African-American teenager and to a cigar-smoking leatherdaddy busy spanking his naughty houseboy. So basically, "homosexual lifestyle" is code for "I don't like what you do with your dick.*"

I also don't get the idea of "agreeing" with the lifestyle. That's another word tossed about in these discussions, as well. It's not like there's not an open question to agree or disagree with. No one is asking for their consent. The word "agree" is used in this context as a substitute for "approve of." In other words, it's a way for conservative Christians to be self-righteous and be judgmental without feeling like they are being self-righteous and judgmental, which is not something good Christians are supposed to do.

This is just another example of something that Matt pointed out elsewhere. Namely, this is a situation where people make arguments that are primarily based in emotion, in favor of a position that has significant and tangible effects on someone else's life.

(*) Yes, I realize that the "homosexual lifestyle" technically covers lesbians as well as gay men, but it's the specter of two men together that seems to really disturb these people. It's no coincidence that the site mentioned above features a man in a tight, colorful bathing suit next to Topinka on its main page, and the prominently-displayed movie starts with two men holding hands. Homophobia is not about being gay, it's about enforcing traditional gender roles.


Matthew said...

Thanks for the mention, Narc.

I would also go as far as to say that when someone says they "disagree" with the gay lifestyle, it is often times code for I believe in "legislating against" your lifestyle. This, IMO, is the most important point to drive home.

A conservative who is against gay marriage once rattled-off to me some other groups of people that happened to rub him the wrong way, but that he wished no real ill-will towards (this was in the context of him giving me what basically amounted to a "hate the sin but love the sinner" lecture regarding gay people. But what he completely missed was the fact that, while he may not care for every single group of people out there that we manage to find labels for (nerds, gamers, etc.), he isn't supporting excluding rights and privileges from them that everyone else enjoys.

This sort of distinction is what the whole "I disagree with your lifestyle" comments are code for, and it's the most dangerous part of their rhetoric.

Narc said...

All excellent points, Matt. Unfortunately, the legislation of the conservative "disagreement" with the "homosexual lifestyle," isn't just a philosophical standpoint. It causes actual hardship with actual gay families and their children.

With Mardis Gras basically focusing on wanton drunkneness, cries of "Show us your tits," and the showing of tits, I find I can't help but disagree with the heterosexual lifestyle.