Why in the World a Young, Gay, College-Educated, California Man Would Vote for Donald Trump

Protests, riots, and a country divided, the new norm in America. Why? Because the voters spoke, defied all odds, and elected Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States. After months of underperforming in the polls, Trump stunned the nation by winning a whopping 306 electoral votes compared to Hillary Clinton’s 232.[1] Being, as my good friend Jonathan describes me, an “enthusiastic Trump supporter,”[2] my candidate — for supporting whom I have taken extreme heat, lost over thirty friends, and lost great respect — had just won an important election. I should have been celebrating, but instead I sobbed. I was heartbroken after reading comments from several friends saying unimaginably horrible and accusatory things about Trump supporters. They made me feel awful about myself as if I had done something terrible. But despite the harassment and ridicule I have endured throughout this political season, none of these critics have ever offered me the opportunity to explain why I support Trump. Understanding my reasoning is especially important because I fall within a minority of Trump supporters. I am young, and young people tend to be liberal. I am gay, and gay people tend to be Democrats. I have a bachelor’s degree, and will soon graduate from law school as Valedictorian, and Trump’s support was highest among non-college-educated voters.[3] Finally, I am a native of California, one of the bluest states in America. But shortly after the election, I finally got my opportunity to explain when I met a Hillary supporter who, rather than making assumptions about my character, took the time to understand what I like about Donald Trump.

Everyone has his or her own specific needs and interests and will vote for the candidate who best caters to those. Nobody should ever feel compelled to vote against those interests solely because other people dislike the candidate. For me, the interest most at stake in this election was ending the war against police and improving police relations with the public. My father, six of my uncles, and I have chosen noble careers in law enforcement to protect and serve you and your communities. In recent years, we have seen attitudes toward police worsening and police being murdered at alarming rates. President Obama and Hillary fuel the hatred and violence with their anti-police rhetoric and accusations of racial bias.

Meanwhile, Trump expresses support and appreciation for the police. In response to the murder of five Dallas police officers, Trump said, “An attack on law enforcement is an attack on all Americans.”[4] He invited several persons to the Republican National Convention who spoke in support of the police. In the wake of the Milwaukee riots, he spoke about ending the war against police.[5] He recently personally telephoned a fallen NYPD officer’s wife to offer his condolences.[6] Accordingly, I voted for the only candidate in this race that supports the police, promotes law and order, and seeks to end the war against police. I voted for the only candidate that will not jump to conclusions or condemn me should I ever have to use lethal force against a violent criminal who happens to be African American. I did what I had to do to protect my father’s, my uncles’, and my interests and safety as (future) police officers. Your interests are not the only ones that need protection, and I want to work in my chosen career under an administration that backs law enforcement.

As a gay Republican, Trump’s convention speech warmed my heart when he said, “I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of the hateful foreign ideology!”[7] He made history as the first presidential candidate, Republican or Democrat, to ever reach out to the LGBT community in his acceptance speech. I realized that Trump is the most pro-LGBT Republican candidate we have ever seen, something that gay Republicans have always wanted. He is the first Republican candidate to ever offer official pro-LGBT campaign merchandise. Remember also that Trump spoke out against the notorious anti-transgender North Carolina bathroom law despite his then-rival Ted Cruz supporting it.[8] After the Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando, he also posted on his Facebook page various comments and articles in support of the LGBT community. In a recent 60 Minutes interview, Trump called himself “a supporter” of the LGBT community. He said the 2015 marriage equality ruling is settled law and that he is “fine with it.”[9] This is not a man that will attempt to overturn marriage equality and other gay rights.

Because many people will challenge me on this point, let us hypothetically assume that Trump does in fact oppose gay rights. Still, the United States Supreme Court has already ruled that the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment require that same-sex couples be allowed to marry.[10] The Court has the final say on interpreting the law, and neither the President nor Congress has the power to overrule it. While the Court can overrule itself, the rule of stare decisis requires that courts follow precedent. Accordingly, the Court does not simply overrule itself arbitrarily — it does so only in response to compelling reasons. But there are no such compelling reasons to overrule marriage equality. It is right and just, and people are only becoming more open-minded and accepting on this issue as times progress. Although it is possible that the Court could overrule marriage equality, I do not see any substantial likelihood of it doing so.

I am also not a single-issue voter, and many other more serious and important issues face this country. For example, we have illegal immigrants bringing criminal activity and smuggling drugs over our borders and into our communities. The Syrian refugee crisis poses the danger of ISIS infiltrating our country, as we have seen from the increasingly frequent terrorist attacks in Europe. What good are gay rights to me if I am killed by one of the criminal illegal immigrants or Syrian refugees, who turned out to be extremists, that surely would have poured into our country under a Hillary administration? Thus, being a gay Trump supporter is not self-loathing as the mainstream LGBT community claims. Self-loathing is voting for a candidate who accepts millions of dollars from and refuses to condemn countries that execute people solely because of their sexual orientation. Self-loathing is voting for a candidate who wants to bring thousands of refugees from these countries to America knowing that many of them could be extremists who may threaten our country with more attacks like the tragedy at Pulse nightclub.[11]

Many critics call Trump’s immigration plans xenophobic and racist, but wanting immigrants to respect our laws and enter our country legally is not racist. Establishing safe zones in Syria instead of bringing thousands of inadequately vetted, possibly ISIS-infiltrated Syrian refugees to America is not racist. Temporarily suspending immigration from terrorist-run countries until proper vetting procedures can be enacted is not racist. Trump is putting America first by taking these stances to protect the American people from crime and terrorism. While I wish we could accept and assist everyone around the world who is in need, we cannot do this and also successfully protect the safety of the American people. The chances of ISIS infiltrating refugee populations are substantial, making such types of foreign assistance impractical and a threat to national security.

Aside from the common national security concerns, I also oppose illegal immigration on a personal level because both my current boyfriend and my ex-boyfriend are legal immigrants. I was with them during their immigration processes and I saw all of the high hoops that they had to jump through. Entering America on student visas, both had to find jobs immediately after graduating from college to maintain their legal statuses. My current boyfriend fortunately found a job that was willing to sponsor him in applying for a working visa. Because such visas are in high demand, however, he had to enter his name into a lottery and hope he was selected. After being selected, his employer sponsored him in petitioning for permanent residency, where he had to prove that his employment was legitimate and that he was not replacing any American workers. Because the United States receives an influx of petitions from my boyfriend’s country of origin and grants a limited number each year, his name currently sits on a long waitlist. I take personal offense to people cutting the line and immigrating illegally, yet obtaining the same benefits, and more quickly, as those who worked hard and followed this strenuous process. Ignoring immigration laws and granting amnesty to illegal immigrants is simply unfair to those who cooperate with our process and wait patiently to immigrate to America legally.

A common theme in the Never Trump movement has been that Trump is racist and bigoted. While he has indisputably said some insensitive things, these comments have been blown out of proportion and words have been placed into his mouth by the media. For example, Trump never called Mexicans rapists and criminals. He called illegal immigrants rapists and criminals before going on to say that some are good people, a part of his speech that the media conveniently cropped out. While these comments are still unfair, they do not make him racist. It is merely stereotyping, something of which many of us are guilty. This is why people need to learn to take with a grain of salt anything that they do not hear directly from Trump’s mouth in unedited and un-cropped videos. I have attended two Trump rallies, I have heard him speak in person, and I have watched his policy speeches. He often discusses helping minorities, fixing our inner cities, and improving our educational systems. He says immigrants help our economy and are hardworking people, that we want them to come to America legally, and that we will allow deported illegal immigrants to return legally. These are absolutely not the words of a racist man. I strongly encourage people to watch some of Trump’s policy speeches, especially his Republican National Convention speech. I truly believe people will like what they hear, or that it will at least somewhat ease their concerns.

Unlike what the media shows, Trump supporters are a diverse crowd of people. When I attended his San Diego rally, I expected to be surrounded by a predominantly, if not all, white crowd, but I was wrong. At both rallies I attended, I saw mixed crowds of Latinos, African Americans, Middle Easterners, Asians, women, and young people. These were families, couples, great Americans, and friendly and accepting people. I wore my “LGBTQ for Trump” shirt at his recent Las Vegas rally, and many attendees thanked me for being there and told me they support me. The reason we made signs and used hashtags like “Gays for Trump,” “Latinos for Trump,” “Women for Trump,” et cetera is to combat the misperception that all Trump supporters are racist, homophobic white men.

I also like that Trump is so outspoken — he says what he wants to say and what he feels is right. Undeniably, he has made some distasteful statements and sometimes he did not articulate himself well, which has gotten him into trouble. But we have to remember that he is transitioning from being a reality TV show host to the President-elect. Saying whatever he wanted despite how offensive used to be acceptable for the entertainment factor, but that is no longer the case. As Vice President-elect Mike Pence said, he is not a polished politician.[12] He is growing and learning, as we can see by the quality and tone of his recent speeches compared to his primary speeches. I like Trump’s outspokenness because it shows that he will be honest with the American people and tell it like it is, rather than sugarcoating and beating around the bush. Unfortunately, sometimes the truth is unpleasant but the American people still need to know it, and Trump is the one that will tell it. Trump has shown that he is not afraid to take strong stances on issues critical to keeping America safe.

While critics fear that Trump’s rhetoric is not presidential and could offend other world leaders, I see a man that knows how to tailor his conduct to what is appropriate for the setting. Trump is fun, sarcastic, and humorous at his rallies because that is what his supporters enjoy, but we also see that he can be formal and presidential in the appropriate settings. He demonstrated this ability when he accepted Mexican President Nieto’s invitation to meet with him and speak to the Mexican people, when he visited Louisiana to assist flood victims through the devastation, and during his many policy speeches. In all three situations, he remained focused, serious, and on message.

After hearing out my thoughts and reasoning, please hear the perspective of other Trump supporters regarding critical issues that I did not discuss. While you may still be concerned and skeptical, I urge you to also respect and understand our differences and work together to make the best of this sensitive time for our country. Donald Trump is going to be the next President, and there is nothing anyone can do about that. You can either continue to protest and further divide our nation, or you can give him a chance to either confirm your fears or prove you wrong. Trump has not even begun leading yet, so your calls for his impeachment will fail and your assumptions that he will be a terrible leader are speculative. As Hillary Clinton said, “We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”[13] I strongly believe that Trump will surprise you if you give him a fair chance to be a great leader. People were skeptical about Ronald Reagan, who turned out to be a great President. So I ask you as a fellow citizen to keep an open mind, and maybe Donald J. Trump will do great things for America.

*See comments for Footnotes!