I was proud to celebrate “National Coming Out Day”, last week. My social media feeds were full of Sea-to-Sea flags and “coming out” stories. With supportive undertones, I saw love and acceptance over pouring on statuses, some of which belonging to friends who were publically announcing, for the first time, that they are homosexuals.
On the other hand, amongst #pride and #loveislove posts, my feeds were overwhelmed with anti-Trump, anti-Hillary, and anti-party rhetoric. Lines have been drawn in the sand, flags are firmly planted, and “friends lists” are growing shorter by the second.
We would expect the electorate to divide along party lines, leaving the Independents and NPAs up for grabs. The Republican Party factions off with the “moderate” and “establishment” Republicans defending a more center position as the “Tea Partiers” try to push the candidate farther right.
Meanwhile the Democrats band more easily together to attack the very top and very bottom of the ticket—this cycle is different. Factionalizing on both sides of the isle, candidates and their respective parties and loyal bands of followers have appealed to the very core and emotional trigger point of each voter, further separating us as individuals.
I am no stranger to holding my own individual preference points; I am a Lesbian, Christian, Republican. Being a Christian, pro-second amendment, fiscal conservative makes me a prime target for the right, just as being a homosexual, millennial, woman makes me a useful tool for the left. Every day for me seems like “National Coming Out Day”—“What are they thinking? Do they accept me? Do they care to understand? Please don’t hate me”.
Although my relationship with my Republican community extends back farther than my relationship with the LGBTQ community, it has been surprisingly encouraging to see the support and acceptance I have recieved from my fellow Republicans. The LGBTQ community members that I have had the privilege to get to know have had mixed responses, but it is abundantly clear that I am judged for being a conservative and for voting for Republicans. Be the reaction positive or negative, I am continuously coming out to the LGBTQ community.
The aftermath of the Pulse Nightclub shooting was eye opening; I experienced just how ruthless the media and political interest groups can be. I witnessed people come together, united, in a beautiful display of what our species is capable of, only to be corrupted by politicized vigils and protesters displaying false testaments of faith.
I saw political figures who “represent” the LGBTQ community launch attacks against the right just because they mentioned the acronym “LGBT”, and gay conservatives be accused of self-hate for aligning with conservative values and officials.
I am proud of my community for being so strong, inspiring, generous, fierce, protective, and organized. I can not imagine what it was like in Pulse and can not fathom what waking up to losing someone close to me from that act of terror felt like. Still, I felt a kick in my stomach, a moment of fear and hopelessness, and a deep sadness of knowing, “that could have been me and/or my friends”.
This tragedy started conversations, only to be stifled by petty political ploys and ambitions, looking aggressively towards the end of this 2016 election cycle. Some LGBTQ representatives demonized people that a majority of Floridians elected to serve them and ostracized members of their own community, questioning their “gayness” for not marching lockstep with the Democratic agenda.
Outwardly, I could see friends unifying behind the left, looking for stability and something to put hope in. Inwardly, however, this sparked a new curiosity about what they were buying into. Instead of inquiring about how to join the anti-gun campaign, friends were asking me how I got my concealed carry permit and what safety classes I would recommend. Some friends talked to me about my faith and returning to theirs; I even had friends tell me that they want to vote Republican because they are so concerned with national security.
Despite what you may think, dear LGBTQ conservative, you are not alone. In the Central Florida area, there are over 22 Republican leaders advocating for our protection– State Representative Mike Miller sponsored the “Florida Competitive Workforce Act”; prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation & gender identity or expression. Mayor Teresa Jacobs has been leading the charge as one of our greatest allies, and Congressman John Mica has signed a resolution in support of banning anti-LGBT discrimination in our state.
Even Senator Marco Rubio, who was protested against by LGBTQ Activists for attending a conference of pastors in Orlando, spent political capital on us by telling that same group of pastors to abandon their judgement and love us as Christ would have done.
Although Rubio is a proponent of traditional marriage, I have never been more moved by an elected official and more proud to call someone my Senator. He did not waiver on his beliefs and he did not pander; he spoke of us with dignity and respect and challenged individuals to embrace us, regardless of our differences.
Enough is enough, we deserve better. We deserve to be proud of who we are and we deserve to be heard. We owe it to our community to end the narrative that is falsely representing us, just as we owe it to our candidates to fight for them for a change. We can not grow if no one steps up to lead, and we will never be taken seriously if we do not demand to be heard; we have come too far to be closeted by our own community.
I am encouraging you to stand up, stand out, and lead for the remainder of this election cycle. Stand with our candidates and ensure that they win their seats; talk to your neighbors and loved ones about what your life is like as a gay conservative and why you need their help protecting our principles. In post-celebration of National Coming Out Day, be proud to come out as a LGBTQ Conservative. You will never stand alone.
The post Stand Up, Stand Out: Election 2016 (A Letter to the “Gay” Conservative) appeared first on Shark Tank.