Coming out as gay in rural Scotland wasn’t easy, but it was a walk in Stanley Park compared to coming out as a conservative in Vancouver.
That's because Vancouver is liberal -- and the Vancouver gay scene is VERY liberal.
As the flamboyant conservative activist Milo Yiannopoulos tweeted:
"I had no trouble coming out as gay. I had a lot of trouble coming out as a gay conservative."
He wasn’t exaggerating.
When I first arrived in this beautiful city four years ago, I was eager to find my feet and build a new life. And I did: A very wholesome life, with a job, friends, social activities and even a fiancé.
I had been through a messy "coming out" in Scotland, so Canada represented a clean slate for me to be myself. What I didn’t realize is that the slate would need cleaning all over again.
For years, while living in Vancouver, I kept my silence whenever the topic of politics came up. I remained silent while my friends chimed in with the canned laughter as Jon Stewart ridiculed conservatives.
I remained silent when my friends said, "Isn't Justin Trudeau's gender neutral cabinet just awesome?"
I remained silent as my friends talked about how wonderful they were for starting a petition to let more Syrian migrants in.
I remained silent when they talked about opposing BC pipeline construction.
However, little bubbles of resistance inside me gradually coalesced into a foam of frustration.
I began posting articles to Facebook and making comments, pointing out falsehoods and providing alternative sources (like TheRebel.media.)
I was particularly critical of band-wagon liberalism, slacktivism, lazy hashtag campaigns and Facebook-profile-picture-tinters. I told people what I really thought about Justin Trudeau. I began openly expressing my opposition to the invasion of Europe by hundreds of thousands of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa.
Reactions from straight people were fairly hostile. For example, a German friend told me to "be more careful about what I think, let alone what I say" after I posted something about immigration that would have been totally inoffensive to any rational person. A relative told me that the libertarian group I joined on Fcebook was a "cult" and that my family were "concerned for me." A few friends texted me to say they had removed me from Facebook.
Reactions from gay people were considerably more hostile.
I play and coach in a LGBT soccer league. After a game one night I was approached by one of the organizers, who warned me that other members were talking about my comments, "found my views repellent" and that I was "making enemies." I asked him to specify which particular view was so offensive. Apparently it was an anti-Hillary article I posted. I had attacked the queen bee and the hive was responding.
My fiancé’s gay friends pressured him over my views and in turn he applied this pressure to me. He was extremely upset after he found out that one of my favourite books was The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. His gay friends had persuaded him that only sociopaths could enjoy such a book.
Gay men accused me of having "internalized homophobia" for failing to celebrate with gusto the giant publicity stunt which was marriage equality -- a teaspoon of distraction in exchange for a bucket of freedom.
I was called a sociopath, a psychopath, "cisgendered," right-winger, retard, fascist, arrogant and dangerous. I was even anonymously threatened with violence.
I became self-doubting, paranoid, depressed and anxious. I left my fiancé and refused to socialize for months. I realized I had been ostracized, and I’m sure some of it was almost willingly on my part.
Eventually I emerged however, and more confident than before. The people who really loved me stuck around and those bonds are stronger than ever. I learned to trust my own mind and be honest with others. I had begun to attract new and wonderful people into my life.
Most surprisingly, since I’ve been more vocal about my opinions, I’ve discovered a handful of conservative and libertarian men in the Vancouver gay scene.
Now I know what you’re thinking, surely this shouldn’t have been such a big deal? And you’re right, it wasn’t exactly Galileo and the Inquisition. I’m sure such pressures would have had little effect on someone more confident like Milo Yiannopoulos.
But not everyone has learned those skills yet, and as you can see from my experience, the social pressure can be quite significant.
My advice to anyone in the same position is to remember that any temporary discomfort you experience will be compensated for by a long-term feeling of contentment which you can only get from being yourself.
Now is not the time for conservatives to be quiet, especially gay conservatives. I believe the gay community has immense influence over the direction of cultural progress and gay conservatives and libertarians like me need to come out of the closet and start fighting to take the reins.
After all, we’ve done it once before.
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