Gay and Tory?
Tory and Gay?
Tory but gay?

I don’t know which one sounds the best, but each make my friends laugh. Coming out as a Conservative was probably harder than coming out as gay!

It’s like:
“You’re gay – that’s ok.”
“You’re Conservative – what the…”

Yep… I did just say that! Being gay was way more accepted amongst my friends and family than coming out as “one of those” (an actual quote from someone).

Somebody else said to me: “What!?! Are you serious?” To which I replied: “umm, yes”… And, no, they weren’t questioning my sexuality.

That look of pure shock on people’s faces was priceless, as the letters c, o, n, s, e, r… started coming from my mouth.  I could see jaws drop, cogs turn and hear the muttering and gibberish. It was like a sketch from your favourite 1980s sitcom. They really heard what they heard, and it became a running quip that I would ask, each time someone new was told: “have I turned green with one eye and ten arms?”. Some saw the funny side and laughed, whilst others showed pure disgust.

Two people messaged me on Facebook within moments of my Tory coming out letter being published, disowning me as a friend: I’d betrayed them and my beliefs, and they’d never speak to me again… And as I started messaging back, their profile picture disappeared, and suddenly my message had gone.

I mean, coming out as liking men created the occasional frown and shock, but I never got that reaction! I laughed when they disappeared and I thought about how many others, especially young Tory supporters, go through this rejection and discrimination. How many people’s friends disown them for not liking the same sex, but for saying that they support the Conservative Party?

The irony that people can get a better time coming out as LGBT than they can Tory knows no bounds. It shows that whilst society has become more accepting and liberal to minority communities, it doesn’t show much progress in accepting young, (handsome!?!) members of the party that won most votes at last year’s general election.

This may have something to do with Theresa May’s reference back in 2002 to “the Nasty Party”. Against the shadow of Section 28 and the AIDS controversy of the 1980s, maybe this tag is slightly, note slightly, justified? The Party was seen to be making unpopular decisions which some would say only just stopped short of outright discrimination against people in this country.

And in the shadow of the Nasty Party tagline and the historical discrimination, it seems as though people may have a battle to come out as the Conservative that they should be so proud to be. Not just LGBT people are subjected to this.  Many people know me not as gay, but as a political activist who has liberal views. However, one or two people have said: “how can you support those who hated and banned you in the past”? It’s a stark reminder that the Conservatives have a battle on their hands to help shake May’s famous tag off, and that we need to ensure we challenge opposition when we “come out”….

And so the apparent fight now is not LGBT Rights so much as Tory Rights (ha), – helping people realise that loving female leaders, helping to bring people out of poverty, getting high employment rates and turning around the mess of the economy after an attempt at socialism shouldn’t be something to discriminate against!

The Conservative Party needs more LGBT representation because it prides itself as being a broad-church, and accepting. You should be proud to say you’re a Tory and represent your values. It’s that family which welcomes you no matter what your sexuality or gender preference is, no matter whether you work in beauty or banking: It’s your loving family.

Well, they always said that blood is thicker than water…