Coming Out of the (Republican) Closet

Protestors in favor of the right of gays to marry stand outside the Massachusetts State House in 2004 during Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney's term as Governor. | Photo: Michael Springer/Getty Images
Protestors in favor of the right of gays to marry stand outside the Massachusetts State House in 2004 during Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney's term as Governor. | Photo: Michael Springer/Getty Images

About two weeks ago, I met up with three old friends from college. Every so often we get together, order large amounts of food and wine, which we never seem to finish due to the topic du jour, and discuss old professors, current affairs, and everything in between. During this particular Saturday evening, while four young gay men waited patiently for an assortment of what my friend Tony would call "rugged non-umbrella drinks," the news of my recent and not so devastating unemployment status -- the two-hour commute that eventually wore me down -- catapulted the conversation toward politics, as it pertains to the devastated economy and upcoming Presidential Election.

There we were feeling so united and politically savvy. I was creatively throwing out at every ten-dollar word I had heard Anderson Cooper use the night before when all of a sudden it happened. My good friend, Robby, an active participant in most if not all of our on-campus civil and gay rights campaigns, a future non-profit leader and development protégé, says in very cool, calm, and collected manner, "I think Romney is the answer we've been looking for." Forks dropped, eyes widened, a gasp could be heard from three blocks away, and I'm almost certain that the explosion of dropped, dirty dishes in the back wasn't a coincidence.

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Being the bravest and most vocal of the group, Jason, an ethnic-studies and economics major and now a very successful consultant, looks Robert square in the eye and says, "Come again?" I being the most confused followed up with, "You're Republican now?" for which he replied "Yes." Robert had apparently been politically conservative since before his junior year of high school. "How could this be headline news?" I wondered. Contrary to popular belief Robert was secure with his identity: openly gay, passionate and compassionate about every important cause and living thing, African American, and Republican. By the time my Mahi Mahi landed in front of me, my curiosity had ruined my appetite. I couldn't help but wonder why Republican?

Some may respond, why not?

Robert's view was that LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender) conservatives believe that there are far greater issues to deal with. Issues that affect us as Americans, as parents, serviceman, and educators. Issues which, in their opinion, aren't necessarily being tackled by our current President effectively or efficiently, one of which being the economy.

In a recent press release the L.C.R (Log Cabin Republicans), an organization that promotes equality for the LGBT community by way of Republican policy, states, "If LGBT issues are a voter's highest or only priority, then Governor Romney may not be that voter's choice. However, Log Cabin Republicans is an organization representing multifaceted individuals with diverse priorities."

After our food had cooled and glasses had dried, we all, reluctantly, agreed that we had never thought of it that way. And, although I respect all of my friends' opinions and admire groups like the L.C.R and GOProud, another political organization representing gay conservatives, for having the ability to see beyond their own civil rights and desires for marriage equality (at least for now), I still, like many of my peers, find their affiliation to the Republican Party to be a hard pill to swallow. Especially in the wake of the much publicized boycott of the GOProud organization from the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Still, during the drive home I wondered how many of my views were misguided and perhaps outdated? Was I a Democrat out of habit and environment, or common sense? Why was Robby's explanation taking up so much vital space in my mind? Either way, gay or straight, conservative or liberal, nearly every American will have the right to have their political opinion heard in the upcoming Presidential election, November 6, and I'm sure by the next time we all get together it will make for yet another interesting conversation, to say the least.

Brandon Kyle is a Inland Empire-based writer, grad student, and events coordinator.

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