Democrats Should Be Worried About This Young, Gay Republican

Photograph taken by James Merse

James Merse Freelance Writer
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Until recently, the LGBT community was all but silenced by their own community and that of the political left. Those that are familiar with my story know that I felt pressure to hide my conservative thinking and when I came out as a Republican, the left made me a public enemy.

In my isolation period, I searched for others like me to connect with, but the results were limited and mostly frivolous social media connections with gays hundreds of miles away.

Enter Scott Presler, a young, gay Republican from Virginia Beach who spent the last two years of his life working to defeat Hillary Clinton. Presler is a human rights activist and the Vice Chairman of the Virginia Beach Young Republicans.

“When I came out as gay, I had an army of Republicans and Trump supporters behind me,” said Presler. “Part of that comes from the following on social media that I built over the last few years. For about a year before I came out, I was preparing conservatives through my posts that you can be a gay Republican, and worked toward changing the some of the misperceptions the GOP had in the past when it comes to the LGBT community.”

The similarities between Presler and I do not end with finding support from the political right. We also both continue to face backlash and hate from the mainstream LGBT community. When Trump defeated Clinton in by winning 306 Electoral College votes, it suddenly became acceptable to harass and degrade gay conservatives.

“The day I came out was the best & worst day of my life,” said Presler. “It was the best because everyone stood by me – my family, my friends, and the Trump community. It was the worst because that was when the death threats started, the insults, the bullying.”

As Presler read me some of the hateful things members of the LGBT community have said to him, it was clear the messaging is consistent. Both of us are consistently told we are self-loathing, that we should get AIDS and die and that we don’t deserve our “gay card.”

I’m not sure what a “gay card” is, but if it doesn’t come preloaded with $10,000, I don’t want it.

The level of harassment and bullying coming out of the LGBT community is equal to the level of irony – is it not the LGBT community that is constantly fighting for acceptance and tolerance? Who knew an election loss could expose the hypocrisy of the LGBT community.

Presler and I have similar reasons for becoming Republicans as well. We both saw that the Trump agenda included measures of protection to make sure that the people coming into our country support do not pose a risk to the LGBT community. We were both deeply affected by the Pulse nightclub tragedy and are both still concerned by the mainstream LGBT community’s refusal to name the issue of Islamist terrorism.

It actually was Pulse that was the breaking point for Presler and the reason he came out as a gay man. Presler recounted the feelings of that day and told me he felt obligated to come out and fight for real changes that truly protect the lives of gay Americans.

“Trump changed the Republican Party forever when he got up on stage in Colorado with the pride flag. Trump changed the Republican Party forever by naming radical Islamic terrorism as a threat to the LGBT community and vowing to protect us – and following through on that promise,” Presler noted. “I think we all owe a debt of gratitude to Trump for what he has done – and is doing – for the LGBT community.”

Building on success in 2016 to secure wins in 2018

If you live in Virginia Beach or frequent the area, I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me you saw a man with flowing brown locks running with a big, bright “Trump” sign affixed to his back. That would be Presler, who takes every opportunity he can to advocate for not only the president, but congressional GOP candidates and other, more local candidates.

“I’ve made so many friends, I’ve met all of my neighbors – like Ted and Zach,” said Presler. “Now my neighbors know me by name – I am the Trump sign guy. I get exercise, I get sun, I meet new people and I support our president – honestly, it’s a lot of fun.”

In the 2016 Presidential election, Virginia’s Second Congressional District – Presler’s district – elected Trump (156,283 votes) over Clinton (145,171 votes). Virginia Beach – an independent city, not part of a territory or county – elected Trump (98,224 votes) over Clinton (91,032 votes) by a margin of 7,192 votes.

The day after Trump’s victory in 2016, Presler refocused on 2018. He told me there are a number of congressional seats currently held by Democrats in states that Trump carried in 2016, making them prime targets for flipping them in 2018. For his goals, he is targeting 10 that he has the best chance of flipping via grassroots community organizing and campaigning.

But Presler is just one person, and he lives in Virginia Beach. Going door-to-door in Indiana, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio or Florida isn’t going to be easy, right? Well, Presler doesn’t even seem phased.

“We are keeping the Trump momentum and keeping Republicans and Trump voters united,” said Presler. “I’m writing handwritten thank you letters to Trump voters and tailoring messages to remind them to get out there and vote on November 6, 2018 for the candidate in their state, and I’m challenging them to spread the message to their friends and family.”

I asked Presler what people can do to help ensure GOP victories in 2018 and the he noted the most important thing is to join the local Republican Party. He also gave me an exclusive sneak peak on a project he’s calling the “Persistence” for which he plans to hold one-on-one meetings and help others get involved and teach them how to activate others toward the cause.

“I want people to always remember this fact – while we have 50,000 homeless veterans, crumbling infrastructure, weak education systems and people suffering right here in our country, the Democrats show allegiance to illegal aliens and refugees,” said Presler. “I believe the American people come first, so we need to flip these congressional seats in 2018 and be a voice for forgotten Americans.”

James Merse is a healthcare communications professional from Northern New Jersey and teaches communication courses at community colleges. Follow him on Twitter: @JamesMerse