Coming Out Conservative in Hollywood

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There’s a kind of “coming out” that’s still scary and potentially career-threatening in the gay-friendly town of Hollywood: telling the world you’re a conservative.

So said radio host Larry O’Connor and producer Kevin McKeever, two Tinsel Town veterans who have exposed themselves as “stage right,” during a seminar on “Getting Started in Hollywood” at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday.

Young conservative wannabe-actresses, set designers, et. al., came armed with questions about how to break into the L.A. system. Half the gurus’ answers were age-old apolitical nuggets — send thank-you notes, return calls the day you get them, empty the trash with a big smile on your face. But interspersed with that advice came conspiratorial instructions on how to bolster and take refuge in the “secret society” that is, according to O’Connor, the 1500-strong conservative network of Hollywood.

“It’s unwise to present your work as conservative,” McKeever said, explaining that the kids should consider themselves artists first and take up the political call later. Sticking to those conservative guns, even silently, isn’t easy though, O’Connor warned. “You’re gonna be tempted … by the cool kids,” he said, meaning liberals who will latch onto whatever cause is hot for A-listers like Matt Damon. “It’s hard to be the turd in the punchbowl … but stay true to what you believe.”

McKeever and O’Connor described the conservative movement as a silent but rapidly growing one that would eschew publicity until the time was right, making them much like the army of Mordor (though way more fabulous and way less evil).

That time might not be soon. O’Connor believes the great conservative outing with have to be stalled until the same-sex marriage debate has abated — because today being conservative inevitably comes with connotations of homophobia, and “being a homophobe is worse than being a racist” in Hollywood, he said. (Just supporting certain conservative politicians can be a real buzz-kill too, at least if you subscribe to McKeever’s belief that The Dark Knight lost out on Oscar nominations only after being interpreted as pro-George W. Bush.)

O’Connor and McKeever were quite careful not to name names, though they did allude to having Oscar-winners in the midst of their “counter-culture.” O’Connor also gave a few other hints to keep his audience sated until the revelation, explaining that a Hollywood bigwig is, for example, likely part of their society if he or she has delivered only a single political message and it was whole-hearted support of the troops.

Both men lamented the stereotype that only liberals can appreciate art as well as the irony of being politically against National Endowment for the Arts funding while wanting to have their share of it. “We’re standing on the sidelines with our principles and letting all that money go to our opponents,” O’Connor said. “It’s our money, too.”

At a different point in the talk, both men took more proactive lines. “Conservatives have to quit whining” about their lack of presence in Hollywood, McKeever said; they “need to start doing.” O’Connor made it a more direct message to the assembled conservative troops: “You kick ass. You’re a capitalist. This is America.”

And despite the clear worries the men had about the vulnerability of their kind in Hollywood, they encouraged the hopefuls to join them in California.

“You have a support system,” O’Connor said. “As soon as America sees that Hollywood isn’t as left as they think it is, then things will start to change.”