One year ago today, I woke up in my dorm room and checked twitter. At first I thought someone had pulled a prank. There was no way that Andrew Breitbart was actually dead, I knew it had to be a hoax. He was so full of life and energy.
Then the confirmation started to roll in and I stayed in bed for 2 hours, crying for him and his family…and a little for myself. Breitbart was a big inspiration and influence for me.
This following is an excerpt from my book, which is currently in progress. I haven’t even begun to edit it yet and this is the first time it’s been typed up, so forgive the occasional mistakes.
March of 2009 I was living like a bum. I had graduated high school a semester earlier than my peers, I had no job, and lived rent free in my parent’s house. I had no real plans for my life and no inspiration to do anything much at all.
I had come far from being the liberal militant Atheist that I had been between the ages of 14 and 18, but I was still drinking the liberal kool-aid in many ways. I was starting to change in small ways though, such as refusing to vote for Obama in 2008, based on the fact that i knew Obama was a hack who had no actual plan (or worse, a plan he didn’t want to share) but if you had asked me about the GOP or the Tea Party, I still would have had much that was nice to say about them.
In fact, the key words in my response would have followed a very Rachel Maddow-esque set of dialogue “blah blah blah racist, blah blah blah homophobic blah gay marriage blah blah women’s rights blah blah pro-choice blah blah religious extremists blah teabaggers.”
Yeah, I was one of those people. Despite personally knowing Republicans who didn’t fit that mold, including a pagan pro-choice Republican who liked gay people just fine.
I was still in contact with a large number of liberal and atheist message boards where I was active and had acquaintances, the same ones that had convinced me years ago that I had to be a liberal because I was gay, one of those “friends” send me a youtube clip one day and the accompanying email read something like “Haha, look at Bill Maher and Dyson tear this Breitbart guy a new one, lol”.
Anyone who has read Breitbart’s book, Righteous Indignation, knows of which interview I’m talking about.
The problem was that when I watched that clip, instead of laughing at the “stupid” conservative and cheering on Maher and Dyson as I should have, I found myself saying “wait a minute, this Breitbart guy is pretty smart. What he’s saying makes sense and Maher just looks like a buffoon.” (Strangely my opinion on Maher never changed from that day on.)
So I started looking this guy up. I followed him on twitter, which, for those of you who were in the conservative new media world before Breitbart passed away will know this, was an enlighting experience all on it’s own. I started paying attention to more than just the mainstream media and began searching for more avenues of news. Twitter became my morning newspaper and Red Eye my evening nightcap (which made for some weird dreams, let me tell you.)
It was a difficult transition for me. No matter how much I disagreed with the rhetoric and ideals of the Democratic party, I was also a lesbian and my introduction to politics as a teen had come through that frame of reference. The liberals and homosexuals who had formed my support grous when I was “coming out” had spent a lot of time (intentionally or unintentionally, I’ll never know which) indoctrinating me to believe that the Republican party hate me and wanted to put me in a re-education camp to “cure” me.
In a strange way I guess the idea of the “gay community” “indoctrinating” the young is true, but it’s not their sexuality that they influence, but their politics.
No matter my values, I had been told over and over again that I had to be a liberal because they were the ones that wanted equality and fair treatment for me. I would never be accepted or represented by the Grand Old Party because of their inherent religious intolerance and bigotry.
I had yet to see actual concrete proof of this bigotry on a wide scale in the GOP, but I was utterly convinced that it was there, hidden somewhere. So when I interacted with conservatives and shared ideas, I kept my sexuality hidden, hiding a part of myself at the same time. That wasn’t what I wanted either. I wanted openness with my peers, how else could I really exchange ideas, but I was afraid of being shunned by the GOP for my sexuality and I couldn’t freely discuss my recently discovered conservative ideas with those who knew my sexuality for fear of being “the nail that sticks up”.
Strangely enough, when I got the courage to come clean to both sides there was only one group that reacted in an overwhelmingly negative manner and it certainly wasn’t the conservatives.
Once again it was Andrew who hit me over the head and told me I wasn’t alone. Well it was actually a group Breitbart was a part of at the time, GOProud. The reason GOProud even entered my field of view at the time was because of Breitbart. He was on the board of directors and that had caused a large amount of speculation from liberal assholes about his “true” sexuality. Never mind that liberals pushed constantly for the creation of “Gay-Straight Alliances” in schools so that that straight allies could have a place to speak out.
Liberal hypocrisy was alive and well in their speculation that Breitbart, happily married to a woman, had to be a self-loathing closeted gay man if he was going to be involved with GOProud.
The board of GOProud also held other conservative faces, such as Ann Coulter, who I had hated with extreme vitriol when I was a liberal. I hated everything was and everything she wrote and I thought she was the biggest moron in existence. Unsurprisingly I had managed to come to that conclusion without having read a single article she had penned or cracking open a single one of her best-selling books. I knew I hated her because I was supposed to hate her and I knew for a “fact” that she hated me for being gay…but she was on the board of a gay conservative group and I wasn’t quite so sure of myself and the many views I still held about conservative pundits.
Somehow at least 70% of my story of “coming out” as a conservative, seems to revolve around Andrew Breitbart in some way. From the very beginning he was an inspiration to me and I can’t say for sure that I would be the same person today if he hadn’t been for him.
He was one of kind and I don’t think that any one person in our movement can stand in his shoes. I certainly wouldn’t have the guts to rollerblade through an OWS rally, but I think that we can all be a little like Breitbart. Fearless and passionate about our love for this country and maybe he’s watching us now, cheering us on and cursing out the liberal morons we have to deal with on a daily basis.
In his memory and for the future of his children, our children, ourselves, and this country, we have to keep fighting.