Remember when Simon & Schuster was going to publish a book by Milo Yiannopoulos and people were all, “But he’s a racist/misogynist/anti-trans hate monger!” And Simon & Schuster were like, “Yeah, but dollars.” But then a recording of Yiannopoulos saying nice things about pedophilia surfaced and Simon & Schuster was all of a sudden like, “No, cuz morals.”
Not to mention that the Conservative Political Action Conference, which has always been a total hatefest, disinvited Yiannopoulos for the same reason. They were cool with the racist stuff, the anti-Muslim stuff, the misogyny. That’s CPAC’s bread and butter, after all. And let’s not forget that when people protested on college campuses against him, many on the right were quick to hail Yiannopoulos as a defender of conservative ideas and claim that the left had no respect for freedom of speech. President Donald Trump even threatened via Twitter to withhold federal funding from the University of California at Berkeley after they canceled a Yiannopoulos appearance.
But apparently that celebration of freedom of speech only goes so far.
Of course, Yiannopoulos says it was all a misunderstanding. Either he was joking, or he used poor phrasing or the remarks were manipulated by selective editing. Maybe all of the above! Or none!
But it really doesn’t matter why Yiannopoulos said, among other things, that a priest who abused him as a boy is the reason he gives good oral sex today. What matters is that Yiannopoulos has thrown fuel on the “gays are pedophiles” fire that opponents of gay rights drag out at every opportunity. Because sex with kids is bad and people who hurt kids are the worst, therefore gays are monsters.
Monsters are, of course, not human, and dehumanizing an entire group of people is a great way to justify systematic oppression and hatred of said group.
For example, the antigay right has long since pointed to the North American Man Boy Love Association as “proof” that gays are pedophiles, as if this small and isolated group were representative of all gays everywhere. It isn’t. It’s on the outer fringe. (I mean, if they really were a huge and powerful group, they’d have a way more professional-looking website.) I’d say that saying NAMBLA represents the LGBTQ movement at large would be like saying white supremacists represent all Republicans, but that analogy isn’t accurate since the outer fringe actually has taken over the Republican Party.
While the gays-as-pedophiles myth still haunts gay-rights discourse, you can’t go to the supermarket checkout without seeing some adorable gay celebrity like Neil Patrick Harris or Ricky Martin posing with their kids on the cover of People. The idea that gays are some kind of sickos who lurk around elementary-school playgrounds is a lot harder to sell today.
Then again, we’ve never had more antigay folks in the federal government. Let’s not forget that Steve Bannon is who hired Yiannopoulos at Breitbart. And that Bannon is Trump’s right-hand man. So when Yiannopoulos says that Trump is the most pro-gay president ever, don’t fucking kid yourself.
So conservatives can clutch their pearls all they want over what they suddenly find so shocking about Yiannopoulos and his views, but he isn’t saying anything they haven’t been saying for ages. Which is exactly why he has been embraced by hate mongers everywhere. Finally a gay man who says the same hateful shit about gay people that they do! Never mind that the vast majority of gays aren’t like Yiannopoulos and think he’s a garbage bag filled with internal organs. Yiannopoulos, for conservatives, is the True Gay. All the rest must just be fake gay news.
D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.