I have several friends who call queer Liberals “traitors”. I’ve done it myself—jokingly, I think.
But how does a queer person betray the community by being a Liberal? The most obvious answer would be to suggest Liberal policies are anti-queer, a suggestion Greens and Labors would “Hear, hear”, Liberals would robustly deny, and Family Firsts would laugh at.
Yet in some areas, Labor and Liberal policies aren’t so dissimilar, such that, by the same token, someone further left than the ALP couldn’t suggest a queer Labor is also a traitor. And it isn’t hard to find people still further left to decry Greens queer-related policies. Defined by party affiliation, treason seems weakly relative.
I don’t think it’s the brand which prompts the charge though. I don’t know any Greens voters who call queer Labor voters traitors, nor any further left activists who call Greens voters traitors. The difference between a traitor and a person with different opinion seems to lie where, in popular political discourse, it so often does: the left-wing/right-wing demarcation.
It’s commonly assumed that queer people generally are—or should be—left-wing. And while some readers may be tempted to retort that everyone should be left-wing, non-queer people who profess right-wing preferences generally aren’t called traitors, or asked “but how could someone like you think that?”
This assumption, as a form of stereotyping, is irritating to say the very least. But more importantly, the behaviours resulting from it are arguably pernicious.
Seated in the University of Sydney Union’s Queerspace, I notice a series of posters decrying aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. I agree with them. Then I wonder how I would feel if I didn’t. If one took what is usually regarded as the right-wing view on said conflict, would strong political messages agitating against their deeply-held beliefs make them feel less comfortable in what is supposedly their safespace? Is a safespace for all queer students an appropriate venue for partisan activism that not all queer students support?
These are questions I don’t have answers to. Yet it seems the main reason left-wing queers think behaviours which alienate right-wing queers are acceptable is because of the assumed queer-left relationship. “Either everyone in the community already thinks the way I do, or they should anyway.”
Queer leaders, coordinators, officers, et al. undeniably have a duty to promote the wellbeing of queer students. But is their duty to all queer students, or just to those who agree with them?