Barstool Sports, an anti-woke sports outlet popular among conservatives, has ignited controversy on the right with its support of LGBT pride.
The right is still trying to figure out its sexuality politics.
Conservative Twitter commentators criticized Barstool Wednesday after the frat-culture media outlet hawked LGBT-themed merchandise in an email to subscribers on the first day of Pride Month.
- A recent video clip from “Out & About” spurred some Barstool fans to complain about excessive wokeness.
Barstool founder Dave Portnoy — something of a hero on the right for his defiance of progressive norms and clashes with mainstream media — has been unabashed about his LGBT pride.
- In a 2017 blog post featuring LGBT Barstool apparel, Portnoy appeared in photos wearing a rainbow flag shirt in support of Pride Month.
- “We’re lucky enough to live in a country that celebrates diversity and individuality and I’m lucky enough to work for a company that does the same. I mean look at my boss, the guy bleeds rainbows,” Barstool staff writer Pat McAuliffe wrote at the time.
WHAT’S A “BARSTOOL CONSERVATIVE”?
According to writer Matthew Walther, so-called “Barstool conservatives” are more concerned with the excesses of woke ideology and political correctness than with social conservative issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.
“Whatever their opinions might have been 20 years ago, in 2021 these are people who, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, accept pornography, homosexuality, drug use, legalized gambling and whatever GamerGate was about,” Walther wrote in an influential essay for The Week published in February 2021.
- Walther described the economic views of Barstool conservatives as “a curious and at times incoherent mixture of standard libertarian talking points and pseudo-populism, embracing lower taxes on the one hand and stimulus checks and stricter regulation of social media platforms on the other.”
In a subsequent think-piece declaring “Barstool Republicans” the future of the GOP, Politico Magazine’s Derek Robertson lamented the rise of a voter who was willing “to dispense with his party’s conventional policy wisdom on anything — the social safety net, drug laws, abortion access — as long as it means one thing: He doesn’t have to vote for some snooty Democrat, and, by proxy, the caste of lousy deans that props up the left’s politically-correct cultural regime.”
- “Portnoy’s devotees aren’t MAGA fanatics or Q fans who live to torment liberals, and they’re certainly not part of the GOP’s evangelical base. (One could imagine the last thing they’d want is a Supreme Court that strikes down Roe [v. Wade, the landmark abortion rights decision].),” Robertson wrote.
Who fits the profile? Tesla CEO Elon Musk, podcast host Joe Rogan, musician Kid Rock and, of course, Portnoy are just some of the noteworthy public figures that might qualify.
There are signs that social conservative resistance to a bigger tent, more inclusive GOP is futile.
- For one, mainstream Republican organizations and figures, including Donald Trump, largely back the LGBT rights cause.
- Even many cultural institutions long associated with conservatism, such as the military, have walked back their previous resistance to gay identity and embraced the cause.
THEN THERE’S THE DATA: A Gallup poll released Wednesday found that a record-high 71% of Americans support same-sex marriage, up more than 40 points since 1996.
- Last year, a Gallup poll found that, for the first time ever, a majority of Republicans said they supported same-sex marriage.