It’s interesting how you can go through periods of life and feel like you’ve done this before. I believe there are parts of our lives where history doesn’t repeat itself as much as starts to rhyme; they are similar in many ways, but they are not the same.
It was about 30 years ago, that I made the move from my evangelical upbringing to move towards more liberal/mainline Protestantism. In some ways, it wasn’t a huge move, since I went from a liberal evangelical to a moderate mainliner. But in other ways it was. This was around the same time that I start to come out sexually and I knew that at least in 1992, there was no place for me in the evangelical world.
When I’ve heard other gay men and lesbians talk about their own leave-taking from the evangelical world, they always seemed to be bitter and look at everything they went through as horrible. Maybe for them, it was. But I didn’t want to look back at my childhood and early adulthood as a waste. I felt that I learned a lot of good things, things that helped me as I was coming out and help me to this day. I wanted to see evangelicalism as imperfect and flawed, but not worthless or even evil. I didn’t want to be like some of the people I’ve seen on Twitter, who call themselves “Exvangelical”. They are mad and it seems at times like they want to hold on to that anger. This is why I tend to call myself a former evangelical and not an ex-evangelical. I felt that I had moved on, but I would take what I’ve learned as I move on to new paths.
I telling you all this because it feels like it is time to move on from calling myself a Republican. The GOP has been my home for 20 odd years albeit an uneasy one. Being African American and gay, you are already at the periphery, but I agreed with a lot of the philosophy and I believed I could help the party move in a better direction. That’s why I was involved with Log Cabin Republicans, working with other groups for greater inclusion for LGBTQ folk. I think the situation has improved, but just as orientation was becoming less of an issue, race became more and more of a problem in the GOP. As Seth Masket notes, the GOP has always had an underlying problem with race but until 2008 or so people in the party tried to keep it in “check.”
I’m starting to agree with a lot of others that the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency changed the party. Masket sees this as the inflection point when the party went from supporting and working within the democratic system to becoming more illiberal.