It has been five weeks since I came out in a very public way. I decided to come out so that I could tell my story and empower people to stand up for what is right. Much, but not all, of the feedback has been positive; some have resorted to childish name-calling. I'm doing this not for myself but for the millions of kids, young adults, and adults all over the world who feel they are second-class citizens because of the bigot or hypocrite next door. And yes, those types of people do exist, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.
I have been a Republican all my life. I actually joke with my friends and family that not only was I born gay -- I was born a Republican! I believe in a limited approach to government and fighting for civil liberties based on Constitutional principles. I do not believe, however, that my personal beliefs and convictions should be legislated or mandated. Therefore, I do not believe other people's beliefs and convictions should become law, either.
Less government means less discrimination. More government means more intrusion and less freedom. One of the major problems is that our representatives in Washington, D.C. listen to those who comprise the party's base when they go home. They're loud, they're radical, and they hold the campaign purse strings. But what about the average voter? Do they get a voice in our political process?
When it comes to the Republican Party today, we preach limited government, and we prop up the message of the Tea Party; however, it's not enough anymore to just say, "I disagree." Did people that led large movements in the past get anywhere by simply saying "I disagree"? Absolutely not. They were vocal, and they were persecuted because of it. But if it weren't for people like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Harvey Milk, where would we be today?
I am doing this because it is time to stand up for what is right before the opportunity passes me by. I'm doing this for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) kids who are bullied simply for being themselves. I'm doing this for the young man who committed suicide a few weeks ago, in part because self-proclaimed "Christians" persecuted him to the point where he believed that his sexual orientation was a "disorder." That is why I'm out here on the front lines, not for me but for them.
This journey has been a wonderful experience for me, both personally and professionally. I thought coming out would be one of the hardest things for me to do, but it was exactly the opposite. It is the greatest thing I have done so far in my life. The most important thing any gay American can do is come out. I encourage you to be true to yourself and stay true to your message. Love everyone in your life, whether they support you or not.
I promise, it gets better.
A version of this piece originally appeared on News-Leader.com.