The Ethics of Bigotry, Part II: Unethical Tactics in the .gay Wars

The real test of one’s understanding of and opposition to bigotry arrives when it isn’t directed at you or you group, but suddenly becomes a useful tool.

Two for-profit groups are competing to establish a .gay internet suffix, which sounds like a very good idea. Getting it established will be expensive, but it also will be lucrative if it catches on, with each registered internet site using the domain having to pay a fee. Both groups say they plan on contributing a chunk of those future profits to gay causes.

One is headed by Joe Dolce, a longtime gay activist,  founder and executive director of the Dot Gay Alliance. His competitor for control of .gay is German-born Alexander Schubert, the chief executive of dotGay, which he has based in San Francisco. Schubert himself is not gay, and Dulce has been quoted as saying that this makes him the wrong man to acquire the .gay domain.

“If you are launching a purely for-profit venture called dotGay and you are heterosexual, then you are in a way continuing a legacy of straight people earning a lot of money off of gay people that has gone on,” he is quoted as saying by the New York Times. “I want to create a community which is run by the community and gives money back to the community.”

And thus Dulce uses a derogatory stereotype of straight people to question both the motives and the character of someone he does not know, purely because Schubert is not gay, like Dulce. I have to admit, though I am aware of many of the legitimate grievances gays have against the legacy of discrimination and marginalization from the heterosexual world,  I never read about those plantations where gays worked in the fields. I have been around quite a while, and I don’t recall earning “a lot of money off of gay people.”  In fact, I don’t know anyone who meets that description, except some of my friends who are also gay. It seems to me that many gays have done very well in recent years, in many prominent industries—fashion and show business, to name just two—making a lot of money off of straight people. Good for them. I don’t resent it. I also don’t see where any gay man is entitled to appeal to anti-straight bigotry based on a one-way theory of economic exploitation.

What Dulce is doing is making an appeal to bias in order to achieve a personal agenda. Saying that only a gay man should have the right to create a gay-themed internet domain is right up on the unfairness and disrespectful scale with arguing that a Jew can’t open a Chinese restaurant (or that Jackie Chan shouldn’t be permitted to direct “Fiddler on the Roof”), that a male stage director shouldn’t direct “The Women,” (or that a straight stage director shouldn’t direct “The Boys in the Band”) and that a black man shouldn’t be allowed to manufacture cosmetics for blonde women.

Or, for that matter, a black man shouldn’t be leading a nation made up of a majority of whites.

You can’t oppose racism, bigotry and bias and then turn around and use them to your advantage. While smearing his rival as an exploiter of gays, Dulce also is making a misleading insinuation. Dulce has said that he intends to give 51% of his fees to gay causes. Schubert has intimated that he may give as much as two-thirds.  Both men are heading for-profit organizations. Both are also planning to give money back to the gay community.

Only one of them, however, is trying to use bigotry to gain a competitive edge.

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