Jenner surprises LGBT community with 'traditional' view on marriage

by Kelly Ledbetter |

(Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters)Caitlyn Jenner, recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, is seen on a TV set in the press room during the 2015 ESPY's award show at Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, California July 15, 2015.

BURBANK, Calif. (Christian Examiner) – The former Olympian and reality television star Bruce Jenner, who has asked the media to address him as "Caitlyn," may be seeking to demonstrate a social distance between himself and the LGBT community that previously accepted Jenner as a figurehead.

In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Jenner said, "I'm a traditionalist." He said he was "okay" with gay marriage, but he was not resoundingly supportive, USA Today reported.

Jenner has said he is a republican and a Christian, but he ascribed his views to his age: "I'm older than most people in the audience. I kind of like tradition, and it's always been a man and a woman. I'm thinking, 'I don't quite get it.'"

Now, because gay marriage is "the law of the land," Jenner's views are a bit more open. He said, "I think, like a lot of people on this issue, I have really changed my thinking here to, 'I don't ever want to stand in front of anybody's happiness.'"

In discussing gay marriage, Jenner used language to distance himself from supporters of gay marriage by saying "you" instead of "we." He said, "If that word – 'marriage' – is really, really that important to you, I can go with it."

This mild endorsement seemed to be unsatisfactory to DeGeneres, who accused him of still not supporting gay marriage equality. Jenner repeated that he did not want to prevent anyone's happiness but said he was only "okay" with gay marriage.

JENNER NOT WHOLEHEARTED IN GAY MARRIAGE SUPPORT

Arguably the most famous transgender person worldwide, Jenner announced his transition from male to female in April of this year. He has undergone cosmetic surgery and asked the media to address him as female.

According to Slate.com, Jenner's views are not those of the mainstream LGBT community, which is causing those who hold more majority views, like DeGeneres, to question whether Jenner is an appropriate figurehead for the transgendered.

Jenner recently assured an interviewer that unlike the LGBT community, he is lenient about whether pronouns of direct address are correct and has a sense of humor about the media jokes regarding his recent Vanity Fair cover and reality show, I Am Cait.

"Apparently, Jenner does not identify with the politics of 'the community,'" wrote J. Bryan Lowder, a Slate editor, "and she [sic] wants to ensure that outsiders know that she's [sic] one of the good ones who won't correct your pronoun mistake."

In subsequent comments about the interview with Jenner, DeGeneres said she was confused at Jenner's apparent lack of support.

"You're wanting people to understand and accept you," DeGeneres said of Jenner. "This is like, really confusing to people. And you still have a judgment about gay people and marriage."

JENNER RECEIVES SOCIAL MEDIA AWARD

Despite having a social media presence only since June, Jenner won the Teen Choice Social Media Queen award, Teen Choice announced. The award is given by the vote of 25 million teens.

The 65-year-old uses his Twitter account to promote his reality show and share personal and LGBT news to his 2.84 million followers.

Amid much controversy, Jenner was also recently given the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, an ESPY Award assigned by the ESPN network for achievements that transcend sports.

But the impact of his social media presence, especially its appeal to teens, might not be viewed so favorably in light of his neutral position on central LGBT issues like gay marriage.

Perhaps, argued Lowder, Jenner's lukewarm opinions could be ascribed to what he calls "Respectability Politics," in which people who hold minority views strive "to gain straight society's approval by distancing themselves from—or stepping over the bodies of—more 'radical' elements of the community."

Since he is often portrayed as the figurehead of the LGBT community—and is certainly one of the most-followed transgendered people on the internet—his self-confessed traditional views could compromise the loyalty of some of the most zealous among the LGBT group, critics predict.