“A person regarded as betraying their cultural or social allegiance.” That’s the definition of the phrase “Uncle Tom.” It’s a term used almost always to refer to a member of the Black community. In recent years the term has come under scrutiny, and there’s been a push to stop using it altogether. A few years ago Barney Frank used the term to describe the Log Cabin Republicans, and he endured much criticism. But the question remains, what do we call those in the LGBT community who betray our struggle for equality? We need our own symbol.
This has puzzled me for years to find that word or term, and there was never a time I wanted it more than last weekend when Richard Grennell, a log cabin, card-carrying homosexual Trump supporter and former acting director of national intelligence, glibly tweeted something to the effect of “anyone who attacks me is a homophobe.” That coming from someone who has supported Trump, and his dismantling of LGBT rights, more than anyone else. It’s funny that an openly gay man is one of the biggest homophobes in the country. That’s right, Dick, you are.
And there’s that question again: what do we call LGBT people who fight against the advancement of our community?
I toyed with the idea of “homosexual.” That word represents your sexuality and nothing else. It does fit, since people like Grennell would probably rather their sexuality be completely separate from every other aspect of their life, like a pseudo-closet, or maybe a walk-in closet. But if you’re like me and proud of who you are, you probably wouldn’t want to be labeled “homosexual” since that brings to mind an image of a 1950’s self-loathing individual. But wait, there’s another option out there.
Some are beginning to use the term “Uncle Lindsey” to refer to groups like Log Cabin Republicans and other LGBT people who actively campaign against LGBT rights. It has its roots with an anti-LGBT U.S. Senator who many believe is closeted, Lindsey Graham. Now, I am against outing people who do not harm our community. But if you are a religious or political figure who attacks our community from the pulpit or the floor of the U.S. Senate, then you should absolutely be outed as a hypocrite. If Senator Lindsey is closeted, then he fits this term well. But is he? Does it matter? Maybe not. Maybe by using it, that term becomes a tool, a tool that no closeted or homophobic politician wants, a tool that no self-loathing “homosexual” person wants. A tool to define and call out their hypocrisy.
Maybe the term will work in ways we don’t yet know. At the very least, maybe it’ll be a way to call out Graham’s homophobia, Grennell’s homophobia, and Log Cabin’s homophobia. So, the next time you encounter a gay person who supports Trump’s anti-gay agenda, you can ask them: How far does your homophobia go, Uncle Lindsey?