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Re-Education Camp

The same LGBT activists who conceive of themselves as rebels and radicals are the establishment.

President Biden Hosts Pride Celebration At The White House
(Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

On Saturday, a man who took a picture with the president of the United States flashed his fake breasts on the White House lawn.

It would be nice if we lived in a country where the phrase “flashed his fake breasts” would never describe something that happened on the grounds of the White House. It would be better if we lived in a country where men didn't flash their fake breasts, and better still if we lived in a country where men didn't have fake breasts at all. But that is not the country we live in.


No one told that to the White House, who reacted as if the flasher had exposed himself to a band of Mennonites. A White House spokesman told the New York Post that Rose Montoya's behavior was “not reflective of the event we hosted to celebrate LGBTQI+ families or the other hundreds of guests who were in attendance.” It may not have been reflective of every attendee, but it was reflective of the event at the White House, in which Joe Biden promised to use the federal government to target the states and school districts cracking down on lewd content in school libraries.

There is also a sense in which a man flashing prosthetic breasts to buttoned-up homosexual couples reflects longstanding tensions within the gay-rights movement. In the years before Obergefell, Andrew Sullivan and other gay-rights advocates argued that labeling monogamous same-sex unions as "marriage” would encourage gay Americans to adopt more conservative lifestyles. Gay Americans, like most Americans, wanted comfortable middle-class lives: children, a spouse, a nine-to-five job, and beer-in-hand barbecues. Same-sex marriage, we were told, was about hospital visitation rights and tax breaks. It was about assimilation, not tearing down the entire social order. Jill Biden echoed that theme Saturday, arguing that attendees wanted “what everyone else wants: The chance to be who we are and love who we love and make a good life for our families."

But is that really all that LGBT activists want?

In the eight years since Obergefell, less than 10 percent of self-identified LGBT American adults are in same-sex “marriages.” Pride parades have become more, not less, lewd since 2013. LGBT activists have become more, not less, willing to be transgressive, even as the federal government lends its full and unequivocal endorsement to their behavior. The professional advocates who once insisted same-sex couples “want what everyone wants" are now characterizing bans on homosexual erotica in school libraries as “attacks on the LGBT community.”

That is the other side of the gay-rights movement, which never went away: the camp, the desire to transgress and change the social order. The culture of Stonewall still commands the heart of the movement.


Marriage was never the goal, or, at least, marriage was not the only goal. The goal was dissolving the vestiges of traditional sexual morality, which redefining marriage helped to facilitate. As the feminist lawyer Jessica Feinberg put it in 2012, “feminist and queer communities” who “disfavor marriage as a legal category” should consider same-sex marriage a means of challenging traditional notions of “permanence, gender roles, monogamy, and procreation.”

Assimilation and transgression are in tension with one another only if the thing being assimilated to and transgressed against is the same. But LGBT activists are working on two planes. They insist that Americans assimilate to their culture, while transgressing the norms of the inherited culture. They “queer” your workplace, and insist that you say nothing about it.

In 2003, you could have been an accountant with three kids, or you could have dedicated your life to “queering sex work.” Today, you can, and increasingly must, do both.

The same LGBT activists who conceive of themselves as rebels and radicals are the establishment. The White House moves the American flag to accommodate theirs. It makes its foreign policy on the basis of countries' support for the LGBT movement. It labels dissenting parents as terrorists and promises to use the levers of federal power to crack down on pockets of local resistance. You can be fired for saying the wrong thing about their movement, and when members of their community make bomb threats and shoot up elementary schools, it is still, somehow, your fault.

The White House's feigned outrage at a transvestite flashing his fake breasts at a Pride rally pretends that the LGBT movement is something other than what it is. It is adopting the same pretense of assimilation that Sullivan and other nominal conservatives employed to make the case for gay marriage. But left and right are closer to the truth than the false moderates at the White House. Exposing children to a topless transvestite is not a betrayal of the LGBT movement, but its fullest expression.