Log Cabin Republicans: Gay Racism

In July of 2016 the Log Cabin Republicans, an LGBT Republican organization, criticized the Republican party for putting forward what they called “the most anti-LGBT platform in the party’s 162-year history.” Gregory T. Angelo, the president at the time mentioned how, included within the Republican platform, you will find “opposition to marriage equality, nonsense about bathrooms, an endorsement of the debunked psychological practice of ‘pray the gay away’ — it’s all in there.” During this time, the organization declined to support then Republican candidate Donald Trump, finding his candidacy unpredictable and therefore unsupportable. Yes, to the amazement of a small bunch of conservative LGBT folks and the bewilderment of the rest of us who have known this for quite some time, the Log Cabin Republicans learned that the Republican party was anti-LGBT. Surprise!

Then something happened. On August 16th, 2019, the Log Cabin Republicans, to the shock and awe of no one really, reversed course and endorsed Donald Trump for reelection in 2020. While the organization has never really been a staple of the Republican party, it has gained a stronger footing in recent years. This can be attributed to several factors, including an increasing number of US Americans supporting LGBT rights, and the public bluster of President Trump, whom Angelo described as “perhaps the most pro-LGBT presidential nominee in the history of the Republican Party.” This supposed pro-LGBT stance can be attributed to Trump’s 2016 Republican National Convention acceptance speech, where he stated that he would do “everything in my power to protect our L.G.B.T.Q. citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.” As such, the Log Cabin Republicans felt like Trump kept his promise and here we are, at their surprising (but not so surprising) support for President Trump.

Ironically, in the same month that Log Cabin Republicans endorsed Trump, CBS News reported that his administration moved to eliminate “nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people by adding religious exemptions to an Obama-era 2014 executive order which “prohibited discrimination in hiring on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity.” You read that correctly. The same organization that declined to support Trump previously and found the Republican platform to be the most anti-LGBT, now endorses Trump right as his administration works to remove LGBT protections. This, on top of the fact that Trump has nominated several anti-LGBT judges to courts across the US, initiated a ban on transgender soldiers in the military, and whose Vice President is one of the most extreme anti-LGBT Vice Presidents on record. So what gives? What made the Log Cabin Republicans reverse course? One way to make sense of this is to use the concept of “interest convergence.” According to the late great Law Professor Dr. Derrick Bell, when white people, in general, only support racial justice because there is something in it for them, this becomes interest convergence. For example, in the 1954 case of Brown v. Board of Education that found “separate but equal” unconstitutional, Bell argued that United States had an interest in presenting itself to the world and the Soviet Union as pro-civil and human rights and that this was the real reason behind it finding the law unconstitutional and not because all of a sudden the US become enlightened and found black people as equal to whites. Now let’s take the same rational behind the concept and apply it to the Log Cabin Republicans and Donald Trump but instead of the interests being in racial justice, lets imagine that it is racism.

In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Robert Kabel and Jill Homan, the current chairman and woman of the Log Cabin Republicans, argued that while they don’t agree with everything the Trump administration is doing, they support Trump’s push to end HIV in 10 years and his protections of LGBT families. While on the surface these policies seem to protect all LGBT people, they are really aimed to attract white gay men.

For instance, while new advances in science and technology have decreased HIV infection rates in the US, these medicines are more likely to be in the hands of white gay men than men and woman of color, the group most likely to be infected by HIV. It also doesn’t help that in March of 2019 the Trump administration proposed huge cuts to Medicaid and Medicare, which provide health coverage to many poor people, and people of color. The result of which Jen Kates, from the Kaiser Family Foundation, predicts will work against the Ending the HIV Epidemic program. As she said for NBC news, “With infectious disease, pulling back resources historically has led to increase in infectious disease.” Surprise! Who would have thought that stripping health care from the most vulnerable people will result in higher infection rates? Being that more and more LGBT people are young, of color and from a lower income group, they will be most likely harmed by such cuts, resulting in less access to prevention medications. Still, by making the call to end HIV and making sure that white gay men have access to such resources while gay people of color don’t, the anti-LGBT Trump administration and the pro-LGBT Log Cabin Republicans found a converging point for their interests.

Similarly, their interests converged for the call to end the criminalization of homosexuality globally. NBC reported that a young, gay Iranian man was hung to death as a result of the country’s anti-homosexuality laws. The Trump Administration took the opportunity to claim that their random push to decriminalize homosexuality globally was because of this incident. In reality though, the Trump administration wants to end the Iran Nuclear Deal and wants other countries to join suit and to impose economic sanctions on the country. European nations have been hesitant to do so and so the administration is using human rights, in the form of a global push to decriminalize homosexuality, as a point of agreement with these countries on Iran. Thus, once again, interest convergence explains this scenario better than the Log Cabin’s claim that Trump has kept his promise to the LGBT community.

It makes little sense for the Trump administration to claim a moral superiority over countries that outright kill homosexuals when their policies are anything but friendly to LGBT folks. Research shows that when “transgender youths are allowed to use their chosen name in places such as work, school and at home, their risk of depression and suicide drops.” That is, being able to use the name that matches their gender identity literally saves their lives. Still, in November of 2018, the Trump administration pressured the international 4-H youth organization to remove a policy that asked the local programs to “treat all students consistent with their gender identity and allow them ‘equal access.’” This disparity between claiming to be for LGBT people and doing things that harm LGBT people can be concealed under the guise that Trump is fighting to protect queer lives by pushing for the decriminalization of homosexuality.

The Log Cabin Republicans interests converged with the Trump administrations once again over families. According to Robert Kabel and Jill Homan, Trump has supposedly done much to protect LGBT families. One just has to wonder though, which LGBT families are they talking about? The Muslim ban proposed by Trump tore apart families. The concentration camps that currently house immigrants are similarly harmful to families. And the Trump family separation policy that takes children from their parents at the border clear rips families apart. In case the Log Cabin Republicans forgot, many LGBT people are Muslim, Latino, and immigrants. It seems like these families were forgotten. Or, surprise! They weren’t even considered in their endorsement because they are not the sort of LGBT families Trump or the Log Cabin Republicans care about.

Using interest convergence, we can now see why the Log Cabin Republicans endorsed Trump. Even though many would see Trump’s words, policies, and actions, as harmful to LGBT people, in reality, they are particularly harmful to LGBT racial and gender minorities and not so much gay white men, whom make up the majority of the organization. In fact, it is in their shared whiteness that the Trump Administration and the Log Cabin Republicans have a joint interest. So, of course they would endorse Trump. His racist actions and policies hurt people the Log Cabin Republicans could care less about. At least, it’s not a surprise anymore.

Jesús Gregorio Smith is an assistant professor of Ethnic Studies at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. His research centers on the intersections of race, gender and sexuality and how they impact health.

Homophobia, Religion, and Racism

On June 17th 2015, nine beautiful Black individuals who were having Bible study at a church in Charleston, NC lost their lives to a White, racist gunman who revealed in his manifesto that he thought Blacks were “stupid and violent.” The killing demonstrated how prevalent racism is in the U.S. today, especially in the way it echoed the 16th street Baptist Church killing of four innocent black girls at the hands of White Supremacist in 1963. It was particularly painful because the church for many Black people represents liberation and comfort, and has been and is still the location for community organizing against racial oppression. It was in the Black church that Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. gave many of his most powerful sermons on love and justice and if you know the Black church like I do, it is where the pastor always yells “Our God is an on-time God. Now let the church say ‘Amen’ ” and the congregation would repeat the Amen.

But the church has not always been a space for love and hope for everyone, especially for sexual minorities and gender queer people. Almost a year after the Charleston shooting, forty-nine queer Latino and Afro-Latino individuals lost their lives to another deranged gunmen, but unlike the White supremacist’s suggestions of us being “stupid and violent,” many church goers have said instead that we “reaped what we sowed” and in essence deserved our deaths for rejoicing in our sinful lifestyles. In fact, many of us might recall the painful video from 2009 of the dangerous ministries of Patricia and Kelvin Mckinney as they tried to exorcise a “gay Demon” from a young Black 16 year old boy. Not long after the Orlando slaughter of the 49, a Latino Christian pastor wished more of the “sodomites would have died.” These stories remind me of the pain I had to endure, Sunday after Sunday, as my pastor said “Hate the Sin but Love the Sinner” and posited that it wasn’t homophobia he was pedaling but the “truth of God, and the church says Amen.” The positions of the church made it difficult for my Latino mother and Black father to accept me as I am for years. Hell, it made it difficult for me to accept myself for years.

The social sciences were not any better for me as a queer person of color. Sociologist Mark Regnerous, a tenured University of Texas (Austin) faculty member and deeply religious Christian man, used the auspices of “science” to conduct a well-funded yet inherently homophobic study about the dangers of same sex parenting. Despite the study being widely debunked by the scientific community, it has been cited and used in countries in Africa and in Russia as justifications for legislation that jails and murders sexual minorities. The Black sociologist George Yancey, no doubt a hero to many Black Christian academics, defended Regnerous’s work and continues to describe homosexuality as a sinful “choice,” despite the overwhelming amount of research that suggests sexual minorities have no more control over their orientations than heterosexuals. In fact he states that being Black or a woman is not a sin, but homosexuality is, therefore suggesting that sexism and racism are somehow more oppressive than homophobia. This thinking is common in the church and among numerous Black and Latino scholars. And this same religious thinking–that we somehow are choosing to engage in our “deviant lifestyles”–is what leads religious extremists like the Orlando killer to do exactly what he did.

A Gallup poll conducted in 2012 found that the LGBT identity is highest among younger, non-white, and low income individuals. Similarly, a great number of hate crimes and attacks are on LGBT peoples including many transgender women of color. We are fighting racism in our gay communities, and homophobia and transphobia in the straight community. We are fighting for our sexual worth among sexual minorities and for the right to use the restroom among heterosexuals. No matter how much time passes, we are constantly fighting.

And so today I am again getting ready to fight, and the source of my anger and pain is the many people who use the church to hide their thinly veiled homophobia and hate. And I will take this fight to the couple that tells me I have a “gay demon” while they have demons of hate and misunderstanding, to the so called Black intellectual who claims to love the sinner and hate the sin, as if the two can be separate to me, to the Latino pastor who falsely associated my love for another gay man with pedophilia, to the many race scholars who stay silent because they think they can fight racism without fighting sexism and homophobia but do not understand that they cannot. I am here to tell all of them that the blood of the victims is on their hands too, that they contribute to this hate in varying ways and that they have done more to kill us slowly than the shooter did when he snuffed out lives in mere seconds. I am mad as hell and I am ready to fight to live, because too many of my brothers and sisters have died. And while I’m on the topic of choice, now is the time for you to make a choice, to abandon your homophobic ways and join me in this fight or continue to be the bullets that filled the killer’s gun. NOW let the church say “Amen.”

Jesus G. Smith is an advanced Ph.D. student in sociology at Texas A&M University

Gay Marriage and the Illusion of Equality


This week the U.S. Supreme Court will consider making marriage equality a reality for several same sex couples across the country. Despite this possibility, LGBT people of all backgrounds will still be fired from their jobs for being who they are, LGBT youth will continue to experience incredibly high rates of homelessness, and many LGBT people (and trans women of color in particular) will continue to face extremely high rates of violence and death. And to top things off, even if marriage equality does in fact become a reality, issues of racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, and body shaming continue to further marginalize different groups of people in gay communities across the nation.

But none of this should come as a surprise to people who study race and racism in the U.S. Many groups have adopted the strategies and political maneuvering from the Civil Rights movement of the 60s as a means to gain political power in the U.S. while simultaneously engaging in anti-black activities. Gay communities are no different. For example, it is quite common for white gay establishments to deny entrance to Black gay men by asking for multiple ID’s, and to deny Black men access to leadership positions in gay organizations. Gay media such as magazines, films, and television often does not include men of color unless to discuss HIV/AIDS, and Black and Asian men are usually considered the least desirable as sexual and relationship partners. These realities alone should show us that LGBT communities are just as susceptible to racism as any other group.


What is important to notice about this discussion though is not only who is preferred in sexual relationships among gay men, but why. Why is it that the research is showing time and time again that White men are more desired across all racial groups than any other? And why are we allowing gay White men to guide the direction of the gay civil rights movement when they are unwilling to even have this discussion about the isms and bigotry’s in our LGBT communities? It is time for us to do better, because once gay marriage passes, many gay Whites (especially many gay White men) will be happily married to each other, enjoying the privileges their Whiteness and maleness afford them while ignoring the plight the rest of us experience. Luckily some groups are fighting back and countering gay racism. If pages such  as sexualracismsex.com and the well-known Douchebags of Grindr are any indication, queer people of color are not going to drink the cool-aid much longer.




Often times the most common manifestation of racism in gay communities is online through dating sites and apps such as Grindr, Jack’d and Scruff. On these sites it is quite common too see such signs as “no fats, fems, or Asians/Blacks” sprawled across profiles. This new form of gay racism has been difficult for people in LGBT communities to grapple with and understand. It is not uncommon for White gay men to claim that desiring only White lovers is no different than desiring only men, thus conflating biological arguments of sexual orientation with racist arguments of individual preference. Yet, if we contextualize these debates within the larger social structure of a systemic racist society, we can understand why Whiteness is most preferred in gay spaces, and Blackness least.



As the above profiles from Grindr demonstrate, Blackness is associated with many other forms of social undesirability such as fatness, thinness, femininity, and oldness (to name a few). We can see that all these different things represent qualities gay men have come to despise such as being out of shape, being too old so as not to be the fresh new meat on the market as well as anything feminine, much of which is tied to internalized homophobia.


"No Dogs, Negroes, Mexicans" - Sign from Texas, ca 1940s

“No Dogs, Negroes, Mexicans” – “1942 DALLAS, TX”

They are also the antithesis of the young, fit, masculine, WHITE man, which can be understood as desirable when viewed through a lens of European White Patriarchy. It was not that long ago when Whites were using other signs to keep people of color out from social spaces and arguing that this was the “natural” order to things.

So, even if the Supreme Court overturns the state-level prohibitions on gay marriage and marriage equality does in fact become a reality across the U.S., many in the gay community will be celebrating but not everyone will be welcome at the party.


~ Guest blogger, Jesús Gregorio Smith, M.A., is a  Ph.D Candidate in Sociology and a Diversity Fellow at Texas A&M University. He is also President of the Hispanic/Latino Graduate Student Association.