Glenn Greenwald: LGBT activists went from having a ‘libertarian ethos’ to becoming a ‘bullying movement’

On the DAMAGE CONTROL podcast, the independent journalist discussed with Brad Polumbo how much the ‘gay rights movement’ has changed.

In addition to the BASEDPolitics podcast Brad Polumbo hosts with Hannah Cox each week, he recently launched a second weekly podcast called ‘Damage Control’ where he pushes back against the insanity of so many modern LGBT activists by featuring mostly right-leaning guests from that community.

Polumbo’s most recent guest was independent journalist Glenn Greenwald, a gay journalist who typically focuses on civil liberties and privacy issues. While Greenwald has been considered left-leaning for most of his journalism career, his continued defense of free speech and liberal values has created a perception that he has moved Right, though he hasn’t changed his views.

The world around him has changed—and this includes the LGBT movement. Glenn discussed with Brad, who is also gay and significantly younger than Greenwald, what the LGBT movement was like when he got involved and how much it has changed over the years.

Greenwald said the idea of the earlier gay movement was “about very little other than the principle that adult Americans have the absolute right to decide for themselves what constitutes fulfillment and self-actualization and happiness in their lives, and [what] choices they make about their personal lives and their private lives and their sexual lives and their family lives.”

“It’s no business of anybody else,” Greenwald added. “Not the government’s, not your neighbor’s, not your state, not your city, and that the role of all those entities is not to interfere in your life to try and control it.”

He said it was primarily a “libertarian ethos.”

Glenn Greenwald continued, “Ultimately, that became a very appealing principle for Americans who still have this very kind of libertarian ethos when it comes to cultural issues. This live and let live mentality.” 

He said the early movement sought to humanize and normalize gay men and women and to destigmatize their lifestyles.

“Ultimately, once these demonization stereotypes were combated, these long-time stereotypes that had been deliberately cultivated about threats to children and the like, people began to look at gays and lesbians as human beings and not these cartoon caricatures,” Greenwald said.

Greenwald said that years ago, “with more and more people coming out it was not that difficult to convince Americans that there was no reason to have the government try and interfere in or control or constrain the lives of their neighbors.”

Polumbo told Greenwald the movement he’s describing doesn’t sound like today’s LGBT movement.

“Yeah so that sounds a little bit alien to me,” Polumbo said. “It sounds wonderful, but it sounds a little bit alien to me as somebody whose political consciousness really began in like 2014, 2015, because, first off, I’m not old enough to remember when it was still called the gay rights movement.”

Polumbo added, “Now, it’s like the word ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ are rarely used. It’s LGBT or LGBTQ or LGBTQIA2+ or whatever the new acronym is.”

The host asked, “How has it changed over time? How much resemblance do today’s LGBT activists bear to the gay rights advocates in the 90s?”

Greenwald replied, “Yeah I mean you can kind of see this in the changing of the flag. That metaphorical evolution that you’re describing, where what was once the rainbow flag, the symbol of the lesbian and gay movement, is being increasingly crowded out. There’s barely any more space as all these other symbols kind of start penetrating and in a sort of aggressive way, pushing off to the side that original movement.” 

Later in the interview, Brad noted that the seeming lack of respect for free speech among many LGBT activists disturbed him.

Polumbo said, “I recently saw a video of a Christian protester at a pride parade…where he was arrested by the police for disorderly conduct, though there was none, so the charges were dropped. He was just arrested because they didn’t want him protesting at a pride parade.”

Brad continued, “I was disturbed because when he was put in handcuffs most of the crowd erupted in applause, clapping at this dissenting viewpoint being arrested, being squashed with the arm of the state. I do think, especially in the context of the trans debate, there is a new strain of LGBT activism especially in the halls of political activists that is pretty blatantly openly hostile to dissenting viewpoints or to free speech or open debate…

“Would that be alien to gay activists of yesteryear?” Polumbo asked. “Or was that attitude also prevalent then even though they were the minority viewpoint?”

Greenwald responded, “For me, the tipping point moment or one of the transformative moments was when gay activist groups sued that small bakery in Colorado and demanded that they make wedding cakes celebrating same-sex couples even though their religious conscience counseled against it.” 

He continued, “And even though I understand in theory the argument that people should have the right to public accommodations and to be treated equally, the reality is there were all sorts of alternatives available to the people in that town.” 

“It’s just one little outpost of dissent that was saying we don’t believe in same-sex marriages. They weren’t attacking anybody. They weren’t assaulting anybody. They weren’t trying to interfere in anyone’s rights. They were actually defending their own rights of conscience and this wasn’t enough.” 

Greenwald later said that the modern gay rights movement seems to have lost the plot, exchanging the old view of just wanting to be left alone to becoming a new “bullying” movement.

“This principle of the right of autonomy and individual choice. What has happened is that the gay and lesbian movement, now the LGBTQIA2+, movement, the acronym seems to expand on a weekly basis, has really become a movement of power.” Greenwald said. “Every institution of authority practically is on the side of this movement.” 

Greenwald continued, “They have the banks behind them. Corporations behind them. The president hangs the LGBT flag at the White House. It has become a movement that has the support of almost every sector and as a result, it has become a bullying movement. Just like power corrupts people, it corrupts movements.”

He added, “I believe that’s what happened with the LGBT movement… where it’s no longer sufficient to say let us live our lives the way we want, it has now become we’re going to force you to live your life the way we want. We’re going to force you to teach your children things that you don’t believe in. We’re going to force you to affirm ideas that you don’t actually believe.”

“And we’re going to tolerate no dissent, any dissent at all to our agenda,” Greenwald observed. 

And what might happen to dissenters? Greenwald explained, “We’re going to interpret as some kind of hate crime or something that deserves violence because we’re so convicted and so righteous in our movement that anybody who dissents from any part of our agenda is automatically somebody who deserves punishment.” 

Glenn described today’s LGBT mob: “And to watch this kind of bullying mentality prevail. That really is this kind of characteristic of mob justice. We have all the force on our side. We have all the power.”

To watch or listen to the full interview, check out the DAMAGE CONTROL podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or YouTube.

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