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Party Crasher: A Gay Republican Challenges Politics as Usual Hardcover – June 10, 1999
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
As the executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, a political action committee for gay conservatives, Richard Tafel is used to criticism and scorn. "I've been demonized and been called names by those on the right who have never taken the opportunity to get to know me," he says. "And I've been caricatured and demonized by those on the gay left who also would rather despise what they think I am than find out who I really am." Party Crasher reveals a fascinating individual, an ordained minister (mentored by Harvard Divinity's Peter Gomes) comfortable debating scripture with fundamentalists and a political activist unwilling to accept the common wisdom that gays and lesbians should give their allegiance to the Democratic party. While always friendly towards queer campaign contributions, Tafel notes, the Dems have failed to follow through on many of their promises. Far from allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, he reports, the Clinton administration has been responsible for expelling more homosexuals from the armed forces than any other in American history. And then there was Clinton's trumpeting to the religious right of his approval of the Defense of Marriage Act, which refused federal recognition for same-sex unions. Tafel rejects the identity politics that lead to such unproductive alliances, favoring instead an emphasis on individual rights and responsibility in which political commitment is based on a desire to personally do the right thing rather than be "accepted" or "loved." "If you want to be embraced," he warns, "get a boyfriend or a dog. But don't get involved in politics because you need a hug; you'll just get hurt."
Party Crasher is filled with anecdotes of Tafel's encounters with people at all sorts of points on the political spectrum, such as the time that the radical group Queer Nation invited him to a college campus to criticize homophobic activities by members of the college's Young Republican chapter, or his perspective on the controversy surrounding the 1996 Dole presidential campaign's rejection of a Log Cabin contribution. And there are several profiles of other gay Republicans (heavily skewed towards men, it's true, but as Tafel says, openly Republican lesbians are even more rare than their gay male counterparts). There's something in this book to upset just about everyone's preconceptions, but what comes through most is Richard Tafel's passion and commitment for social justice and genuine acceptance of everybody's differences. --Ron Hogan
Tafel, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, gets ragged by gays for being Republican, by Republicans for being gay. But he comes from a long line of clergy (in fact, he is ordained), and the Christian virtues of forgiveness and patience have stood him in good stead as he has tirelessly explained that gay Republican is not an oxymoron. Politically, gays are usually sorted into assimilationist and liberationist camps, which differ on tactics but share seeking greater government clout for gay issues and allying with the Democrats. Tafel defines a third major faction, the libertarians, whose beliefs in individual rights and responsibilities, limited government, and free markets are better represented by the Republicans. Devotion to the Democrats, he argues, has led to being milked for cash and given lip or no service on such equal-access issues as gay marriage and military service. Further, he presents evidence that sympathetic lobbying of Republicans works for gays, which makes his advocacy of bipartisanship credible. Cogent enough to be the gay political book of the year. Ray Olson
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Having said that (I've always wanted to say that about Tafel), it is a very good book. It's thought-provoking and a good read...even if you happen to 100%, totally, positively, without question disagree with every single solitary word in the book.
Get it, read it, make up your own mind...
Tafel does an excellent job of providing personal stories of himself as well as others on how each of them struggle to come to term with their sexuality and their politics. He also illustrate the need of belonging and a sense of purpose that so many in the gay community need.
Party Crasher is a must read, especially those on the left fringe of the gay community.
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