Alive: A Gay Pro-Life Network?


A few days ago, Geoff from Geoff’s Shorts got in touch with me to let me know about a bit of research he was doing on a Twitter account calling itself @aliveGPN, or Alive! Gay Pro Life. Geoff’s done a thorough analysis of the groups’ Twitter account over at his blog- I’d strongly recommend checking it out. He’s found some truly delicious stats on the group’s followers- did you know, for example, that the most popular other accounts among people who follow @AliveGPN include such notable LGBTQ allies as Ann Coulter, Paul Ryan and Pope Benedict himself?

As Geoff did such a spectacular job analysing Alive’s Twitter followers, I decided to take a slightly different tack and look at their blog.

Who are you?

As someone who spends far too much of my time reading and writing blogs, one of the first things I tend to do after finding someone new is head to their About page. It’s good to know a little bit more about the person, group, collective or organisation behind a page. To find out who they’re connected to, who’s on their blogroll, who they link to. Seeing how a blog fits into our wider network is interesting. I always say that blogging is as much about who we say things to as what it is we’re saying. When it comes to the internet, our geographies are made up of the connections between us.

Unfortunately it seems that Alive doesn’t have any. They call themselves a Gay Pro-Life Network, but their level of publicly visible networking, on the blog at least, is non-existent. There are no commenters. Their About page is still on WordPress’s default. Using the word ‘Network’ in their name implies that they include a number of different people or organisations, but there’s no author info and no links or blogroll. Clicking through their posts I thought I could find some sense of the network from their commenters, but they have none. Finally I went through their posts- only three of these, although the first was in July and the second was a few weeks ago on January 2nd. There were two links. One to an article in Politico and another as part of a post asking readers to contact their representatives regarding an abortion bill. This is a blog with the tagline “bringing together LGBT Americans in support of the right to life” which is entirely without faces, names or even references. It feels strange to be in a site so cut off from the rest of the internet.

Reading through Alive’s posts, some details in writing style felt slightly ‘off’ to me. I am not, by the way, saying that these tell us anything for certain about whoever it is that writes this blog. But it felt strange.

A Question of Gender

Let’s talk about language. The word ‘gay’ came up 21 times in Alive’s posts. ‘LGBT’, eight times. ‘Lesbian’, once. Bi or trans not at all. For a page that claims to be about LGBT people, that’s an awful lot of G and practically nothing about the people who are more likely to be involved in (not) having abortions. This reminded me of Alive’s Twitter background- it’s a couple of men with a baby. Now, I’m not saying that men never get pregnant- of course they do. Loads of trans men have uteruses and some of them grow babies in them. But of all the families within LGBT communities, isn’t it the queer women who are more likely to have a uterus (or two) around? It seems strange to me that a group embedded in LGBT communities with knowledge of our families would pick a picture of two men with a baby to talk about abortion. Cis male couples’ involvement in parenting generally starts in earnest after their babies are born. The men in that picture are far more likely to have in-depth knowledge of sleepless nights from feeding and changing their baby than from getting up to pee every 20 minutes while having their vital organs pummelled by an acrobatic fetus. It’s strange that a group claiming to focus on an issue that is overwhelmingly about women and trans* men doesn’t talk about either and uses a gay male couple as its background image.

This bizarre erasure of women continues. While the word ‘mother’ appears 10 times in the blog, ‘woman’ is entirely absent. And look what happens when they talk about a pregnant person:

In every abortion there are two victims, an unborn child who loses his life and a mother who is often left with immeasurable pain and regret for the rest of her life.

An unborn child. Who loses. His. Life.

Right.

Awkward Equations

I have straight ally friends and acquaintances who write and talk about queer issues all the time and who do a damn good job of it. I’ll often get a call or an IM asking if I wouldn’t mind taking a quick look over someone’s latest article, if there’s anything I think should be added to their talk, or what the most polite way to refer to something is. I often do the same when I write about groups I’m not a member of myself- have a quick check-in with someone in the know, or give it a google if it’s something basic or there isn’t anyone around with the time, spoons or experiences to help. While there’s a fine line between checking-in and expecting oppressed people to be your personal PA and teacher, people who live their lives in a particular category tend to have an awareness of nuances that the rest of us mightn’t be aware of. It’s like the difference between a canned pop song about love and something that someone wrote about a person they’re actively smitten with.

To my queer woman’s eye- and this ain’t scientific- this blog feels canned. It talks, for example, about the two biggest topics in the news relating to LGBT people these days- marriage and bullying. Things we’re all aware of. Let’s take a look at how they discuss bullying:

Far too often LGBT youth particularly are targets of bullying and tragically in some cases it has led LGBT youth to end their own lives. With the advent of new public awareness campaigns and new anti-bullying laws, it’s clear our society cares about protecting children’s lives. Yet every year over one million unborn children lose their lives to abortion.

Doesn’t that feel a little off to you? Yes, they acknowledge that bullying happens and that LGBT kids are targets of bullying. But there’s a lot that’s missing. Where’s the acknowledgement that this is still happening? It’s implied that public awareness and campaigns are making bullying of LGBT kids a solved problem. If you think this is the case, I invite you to take a moment. Open up a new tab and pop “gay teen suicide” or “lgbt teen suicide” into google. Check out the news results and a few statistics. And what about the fact that bullying and harassment of LGBT people doesn’t stop when we graduate? Or that queer kids are often victims of bullying at home and in their communities as well as in schools? I’ve never seen a queer person write about homo/bi/transphobic bullying and harassment without mentioning either some anecdata or statistics or hinting at an understanding of the nuances of the experience. And I’ve never, ever met a queer person who hasn’t encountered it at some point. Even if we escape ourselves, we live our lives embedded in communities of friends and partners who haven’t been so lucky.

Let’s take a look at a similar passage in another post:

Gay people are familiar with these tactics. In an affront to our very existence, misguided and sometimes hateful people insists that gays and lesbians are deficient, broken, diseased, and worse…less-than-human.
These categories would sound immediately familiar to a pro-life activist.

Isn’t it interesting how “a pro-life activist” is situated as different to “gay people”?

I’m not saying these people, whoever they are, aren’t queer. I am saying that the way they write bears no resemblance to the way any of the queer people I have met, spoken to, heard of or read do. The GSM people in my life are a motley bunch of bis, aces, trans folk, lesbians, the odd gay man, a bunch of people who could pick a few categories from the above, and shedloads who just go by ‘queer’.

There are antichoice members of the LGBTQ community. I’ve met plenty- I wouldn’t forget arguments like the ones I’ve had with some of my fellow queer folks about abortion. For activists embedded in our LGBTQ communities, finding people willing to share real and nuanced views of all kinds on abortion isn’t that hard. Although I disagree with them vehemently on this, it’s still sad to me that the people who claim to speak for them and to be a network of people like them… don’t.

Check out Alive! Gay Pro Life and the Minority Report over at Geoff’s Shorts to take a look into Alive on Twitter and find out where their followers are coming from. 

Edited to add: I’m hearing that this post, despite my statements to the contrary, is being taken to imply that I don’t think that LGBT antichoice people exist. Or that they have organisations. Of course they do! PLAGAL have been around since 1990 and are still going strong, from what I can see. As far as local groups go, the LGBT Life Alliance seems to be defunct but it does look like it was set up in good faith.

21 thoughts on “Alive: A Gay Pro-Life Network?

  1. Yep. I believe that there are anti-choice people in the LGBTQ community, I definitely do.

    But I am immediately suspicious of anyone who claims to know a lot about, or even be part of, the ‘LGBT’ community and yet never once uses the word queer.

  2. I seem to recall running into the occasional pro life dyke, but my memory is rather sketchy. I do think your clues are important and would agree with your assessment.

    This entitlement to the bodies of women still astounds me, even though it’s in my face every day. I watch someone slam the participation of US women in military combat, and his concern is for how men will have careers ruined because of sexual assault. Huh?

    And these folks who carry their signs and defend the rights of foetuses, too often they oppose every programme that benefits those in need, including children. It seems caring ends with birth.

  3. Interesting, I am the other end of the dont fit spectrum, a pro choice Christian, so of course accept people can have a variety of sincere views on this emotive and deeply personal issue. However I do think an awul lot the points you make ring true. Sadly as any sex work activist knows the easiest thing to do on the internet is to set up an account that says what some people want to read.

  4. There are certainly ‘Pro Life’ LGBT people, I know many. I’d probably be one of them, if it wasn’t for common sense and a bit of human compassion. Abortion doesn’t sit well with me, however, it is an issue that *does not just affect me*, and there are myriad circumstances to take into account. (For the record, Midget, I am pro choice due to aforementioned sense and compassion. There’s no need to cut off the tea supplies.)

    That account screams either ‘FAKE’, or extremely cowardly/lazy. I’d go with fake to be honest, but then I’m a cynic at heart. They may believe there are many LGBT people who would come out as ‘pro life’ if it weren’t so closely tied into the other elements of the culture war, i.e gay rights issue.

    • Don’t worry, I know you’re way too sensible to go around seeing things in black-and-white like that. And one of the major points of being pro-choice is that you don’t, y’know, have to make the same one as everyone else. We’re cool that way.

      Y’know something though, there probably are lots of LGBT people who’d join a network like this if it were actually a network. What with there being a difference between LGBT people and the Borg. Which is… something that these people oddly don’t seem to have grasped.

  5. That is just…. a weird blog. It makes me think of someone who’s trying to build a bus with cardboard boxes, string, and chewing gum. Yeah, you can make it look approximately like the real thing, but will it hold together when you try to drive it anywhere?

    I also think it’s a little insulting to say that unborn fetuses are under the same attacks as LGBTQ folks… I’m having a hard time imagining anyone bullying a fetus with any lasting effect. (What names would you even call it? Cletus the Fetus?) Plus, the weird (and honestly, eerie) disappearance of the mother from this picture – apparently these bullied fetuses exist in a vacuum or test tube somewhere, and are aborted by aliens who have no human emotion. O_o

    I love Geoff’s description of you, though, as “Ireland’s premier cranky bisexualist queermo.” That kinda made my day 😀

  6. Hello friends. I’m one of the individuals behind Alive GPN. Some other gay friends and I who happen to be pro-life have become frustrated with our lack of representation within the LGBT community. We think human rights begin when life begins. So we decided to make a blog and a Twitter to give voice to some of these issues.

    You’ve raised a lot of concerns here. Yes, I’m gay. And yes, I happen to be male. So naturally, my perspective on gays and the pro-life movement will reflect my background. Everyone regardless of gender or sexual orientation should be able to speak out on such an important human rights issue.

    The language used was not intended to offend anyone. I personally despise the word “queer” so I don’t use it in writing or in my personal discourse. That’s just me.

    As someone who of course encountered anti-gay bullying in school, my intent was never to diminish the tragedy that continues to take place. The point was merely to note we have taken steps as a society to address the issue with new anti-bullying laws, awareness campaigns, etc. Yet unborn children do not have protection under the law when faced with the violence of abortion. Both are wrongs that must be ended in our society.

    If anyone shares our pro-life position and would like to offer their perspective, I would certainly welcome it! We all have full-time jobs and this is just a side-project for us so we’ll certainly welcome any assistance in building and improving it.

    Feel free to email me: AliveGPN@gmail.com.

    Thank you.

    – Andrew

    • A word to the wise, Andrew: read the rest of this blog. I’m not sure you’re going to find a lot of sympathetic readers when it comes to limiting women’s reproductive choices.

      Unborn children do not have protection under the law when faced with the violence of abortion… just like women do not have protection when faced with the myriad abuses hurled at them on a daily basis, including being forced to carry the children of their rapists and abusers, and being forced to carry to term pregnancies that can – and sometimes do – kill them.

      I, personally, cannot support the pro-life position when it begins to infringe on the rights women have to their own autonomy, their own destiny. And, seeing as you are a gay male, I have a hard time understanding exactly how you are qualified to make that decision for them.

    • Hi Andrew,

      Thank you for getting in touch. I appreciate your taking the time to respond to some of my concerns. I’d like to give your comment a fair reply, so I’m going to write a post specifically addressing what you’re saying. I (deliberately!) try to take weekends off from this blog, so it’ll be up on Monday morning.

      Aoife

  7. Very interesting post!

    I have a little input on why they might be saying “his” life.

    “In every abortion there are two victims, an unborn child who loses his life and a mother who is often left with immeasurable pain and regret for the rest of her life.”

    My midwife friend uses the same phrase, and when I first noticed it I asked her what it’s all about. I was told that for ease of smooth conversation in a linguistical sense, it’s pretty standard to refer to the mother as “her” and the child as “him”, up until the time of birth. As well as conversation, it makes it simpler for the midwives, nurses, and doctors to distinguish clearly between the two once the context is known, and – because it is standard – it allows for staff to keep the baby’s gender secret if the parent(s) don’t want to know until birth.

    Of course, how likely is it that AGPN follow the same reasoning? I don’t know. But I also don’t think it matters. I don’t think there’s anything sexist as such behind it, but as they’re trying to portray two people in one quote, it seems kind of reasonable to use two genders in it.

  8. Pingback: Responding to Alive | Consider the Tea Cosy

  9. Hi! I just discovered your blog through Geoff. Beautifully done! I did want to add something that struck me as I read your post. This “Alive” blog just about screams of being a work commissioned from a freelance writer. I’m glad you wrote about them and brought them to our attention. Whether it’s commissioned or it’s really Andrew doing it, it’s purely sickening to me that a man who is categorically guaranteed never to be faced with an unexpected, unwanted pregnancy in either his own body or that of his partner is happy to push his morality onto others. A study done here recently showed that even the most fiercely anti-choice men quickly change their tunes when their partners come up pregnant–but Andrew is guaranteed never to experience that change of heart and subsequent modification of ways that come from realizing that one’s moralizing applies to oneself as well as to others.

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