For the past year or so, I have been pondering writing a memoir, not necessarily because my life has been particularly interesting, but because, I believe, lessons I’ve learned, largely by taking the wrong path, may well have some universal significance.
Perhaps the most significant of those lessons is to remain true to yourself, even if you risk the opprobrium of your peers.Â As I’ve expressed several times on this blog (here and here for example), when I moved to LA in 1999, I decided (by and large) to hide my conservative politics, that is, to borrow an expression, I went back into the political closet.
I did so, largely because the few conservatives I knew who were familiar with the entertainment industry said it would be career suicide to identify oneself as a Republican.Â I learned later it was even a challenge in some segments of the industry for Democrats to be open about their support for Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primaries.
In this town, one does indeed face ostracism for coming out conservative.Â As I reported last month, David Zucker said Republican was the “new gay” in Hollywood.
But, just as we gay people find a community where there are others like ourselves when we come out, so too do we gay Republicans, even those of us in Hollywood find a community when we come out of our closets.
When I started coming out to my gay and industry friends in 2004, I learned that being open about my politics offered a window in the character of my friends and acquaintances.Â Those who dismissed me because of my politics revealed their narrow-mindedness.Â They put ideological conformity ahead of emotional compatibility and much else.
Those who might be surprised by my politics, but considered the relationship unchanged by the revelation proved themselves worthy friends.Â They would not let a slight difference get in the way of their affection, admiration and even respect.
Sometimes, this revelation even furthered our understanding of one another; their curiosity about my Republican politics (especially because nearly all had assumed I was a Democrat) prompted many questions.Â The conversation which ensued allowed us to more readily address issues which concerned us.Â By being open about our politics, we could better discuss some of the things which most mattered to us.
Perhap the most important thing I realized when I came out as a conservative is how my political closet had exacerbated my isolation.Â From remaining silent when politics came up in conversations, I found that when I spoke out, I would occasionally meet others who shared my views.Â Or at least appreciated my iconoclasm, or just plain willingness to buck their expectations of how a gay person should think.
This blog has served to help advance those relationships.Â Had I remained in the closet, I would likely not have come into contact with the people who came to our GayPatriot outing Saturday night.Â Simply by being true to myself, I met more people with whom I shared interests and ideas.Â I expanded my circle.Â As have many others who have made similar choices to be about how they differ from their peers.
The long and the short of it, the “lesson,” so to speak, for my memoir is that while these differences may costing us friendships and even professional contacts, when we do “come out,” we do more readily find others like ourselves.Â And sometimes even we end up finding the right track for our lives.
Something to bear in mind when you wrestle with whether to stand up to an intolerant friend or acquaintance.Â Is the friendship really worth it if he’s so narrow-minded?Â Or maybe he’s not that narrow-minded but just needs to be confronted on his prejudices.
Who knows, by coming out, you may well help change his attitudes!