Ann Coulter: The Next Gay Icon
First there were the theater divas: Liza Minelli, Carol Channing and, of course, Barbara Streisand (or Babs to those who know her well). Later came the disco queens, Donna Summer being at the top of that list. Recently we have seen the rise of the trashy pop superstars: Mary-Kate, X-Tina and, of course, Paris Hilton. Over many generations these spotlight stealing celebrities have each held a very important and exclusive title, bringing them hoards of fans and ensured their niche popularity even as they age and fade from the mainstream tabloids.
The title I am talking about is that of the gay icon. Whether we’re talking about the stars of old MGM musicals or of MTV music videos, these women have been adopted by the gay community because of their propensity for controversy, their desperate need for attention and their ostentatious, over-the-top, campy celebrity persona. Everyone has their favorite and arguments over the comparative merits of Babs and Liza have made many a blind date slightly less awkward for those in the gay community.
For this reason, I have found it necessary to find my own favorite icon and after much soul searching I have chosen someone who combines the trashy persona of Mary-Kate with the sharp tongue of Liza, someone who makes Paris look tame, someone who makes Babs look positively B-list. The someone I am talking about is the stylish, snarky and downright sexy Republican pundit, Ann Coulter.
I’m not the first to associate Ann with the gay community. Blogger (and Oberlin convocation speaker) Andrew Sullivan has called her a “drag-queen-fascist-impersonator” while right wing pundit Michael Savage has referred to her as the “Paris Hilton of conservatism.” In fact, it’s really not an outlandish statement to make because what makes her so successful as a pundit is exactly what makes gay icons so popular within the gay community. Instead of Liza’s stint in rehab or Paris’ evening escapades, Ann Coulter provides us with suggestions that Timothy McVeigh should’ve blown up the New York Times building; these comments make Republican leaders cringe but create tabloid gold in a way that puts Britney’s newly shaved head to shame. The campy shallowness of Mary-Kate and Ashley exists in full force within Ann as most of her comments revolve not around policy but surface insults like, “You know when I tour college campuses, I always find that the prettiest girls in the room are college Republicans.” This, of course, doesn’t even take into account her appearance; her sleek, black suits hug her wire thin frame for a casual-formal appearance that would make the gay stereotypes on Queer Eye swoon.
This becomes interesting in the context of recent comments made by my girl Ann in relation to John Edwards’ sexuality. Ann accused Mr. Edwards of being “a faggot,” which she has done to Bill Clinton in the past. While on the surface this may sound indistinguishable from boilerplate, conservative anti-gay rhetoric, there’s something about these comments in the context of her gay icon-like persona that seem harmless and almost progressive. As much as she talks about “simple, moral Americans” Ann Coulter dresses and speaks like the stereotype of the latte-sipping, city-loving liberal. On some gut level, for me, her jabs at Presidential candidates’ sexuality read not as weapons in the culture war but as the kind of joke often made among my friends. The fact that she targeted John Edwards (one of the younger, more attractive Democratic candidates) and Bill Clinton (who also has bankable sex appeal) should give her even more credibility within the community, instead of insults towards these candidates, Ann Coulter’s comments act as sort of a wish fulfillment-like favor to gay political junkies everywhere.
Having pointed out the opportunity for Ann Coulter to become a gay icon, I would like to officially extend the invitation to her. Ann, given the recent electoral loss that Republicans sustained, conservatism is on the way out. The Republican party will no longer tolerate your outlandish statements as they try to moderate their appearance. But, no matter which way the political winds are blowing, you will always have a place in my heart and something tells me that many in the community that you often accuse of immorality of biblical proportions might also agree.