MARTIN AMIS GOES GAY: On Tuesday night of the Republican National Convention, Martin Amis showed up at Homocon 2012, the party for gay conservatives. He walked into the venue, a club named the Honey Pot, ordered a glass of chardonnay and took in the scenery — go-go dancers, men in suits, furtive glances, a scattered dance floor.
He had reasons for being there. “Well, I’m gay and I’m a Republican,” he said, a glass of chardonnay in one hand, a cigarette in the other.
This story first appeared in the August 31, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The event was one of several he’d attend while covering the convention for his former girlfriend Tina Brown’s Newsweek. Amis, graying, a little disheveled, with a faded navy shirt tucked into dark dad pants, held court by himself near the bar. No one bothered him. No one even recognized him; his name had to be pointed out to the party photographer for captions.
This was not his crowd.
For one, he found the whole convention dismaying. He had just left Ann Romney’s speech. “She spent half the time talking about those struggling people her husband intends to screw,” he said. “It’s a party for rich white men, and that’s a tiny demo that’s getting smaller all the time. It’s time they compromise with reality.”
Christopher Barron, the cofounder of GOProud, the organization throwing the party, could not disagree more. “It’s clear the conservative movement is willing to embrace gay people. That’s why this nightclub is going to be filled on three floors,” he chirped of the party with the open bar.
He pointed out many personalities were there — MSNBC’s S.E. Cupp, CNN contributor Will Cain and Herbert Hoover’s great-granddaughter and cable pundit, Margaret Hoover.
“Grover Norquist just left, but he’s coming back,” Barron said.
GOProud is different from the more well-known Log Cabin Republicans in that it focuses more on jobs, the economy and retirement security, “issues that affect gay people on an everyday basis,” said Barron, a former political director with the Log Cabin Republicans. And “we’re the only gay group to endorse Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.”
Barron’s elation was surprising, seeing as his party took place hours after Rick Santorum had delivered a prime-time speech warning against “the assault on marriage and the family.”
“Obviously,” Barron said. “The party is not there yet — the conservative movement is not 100 percent there yet. But things are getting better every year.” He has set his hopes on the next generation of conservatives, not on the establishment. The Romneys and the Santorums weren’t welcome at Homocon. “We’re going to have the chairman of the Tea Party Express [Amy Kremer] here tonight,” he said. “Before us, there was no one talking to those people.”
Amis was not impressed by any of it. He was the only white straight reporter at the Honey Pot not seemingly fascinated by the novelty of gay Republicans.
“Gay people should be allowed to be conservative,” he said. “The whole move toward gay marriage is a conservative one.”
He drawled all this out, and when pressed for more, he demurred. After two nights in Tampa — his first time in the city, though not Florida — he felt exhausted, “talked out.” “That’s all I can give you,” he said, and walked away as Whitney Houston’s “It’s Not Right, But It’s OK” played.