Since I’m always interested in political changers, I want to draw your attention to this brave soul. Chadwick Moore is a gay man of 33 who lives in Brooklyn, a “lifelong” liberal (I guess 33 years seems long when you’re 33) who recently wrote a piece for Out magazine on Milo Yiannopoulos. The article was neither pro nor con; he merely tried to be fair to him and present the facts.
Well, your can imagine the reaction. Yes, indeed: “Moore found himself pilloried by fellow Democrats and ostracized by longtime friends.” Here’s some of what Moore has to say about it:
Personal friends of mine — men in their 60s who had been my longtime mentors — were coming at me. They wrote on Facebook that the story was “irresponsible” and “dangerous.” A dozen or so people unfriended me. A petition was circulated online, condemning the magazine and my article. All I had done was write a balanced story on an outspoken Trump supporter for a liberal, gay magazine, and now I was being attacked. I felt alienated and frightened.
I laid low for a week or so. Finally, I decided to go out to my local gay bar in Williamsburg, where I’ve been a regular for 11 years. I ordered a drink but nothing felt the same; half the place — people with whom I’d shared many laughs — seemed to be giving me the cold shoulder. Upon seeing me, a friend who normally greets me with a hug and kiss pivoted and turned away…
My best friend, with whom I typically hung out multiple times per week, was suddenly perpetually unavailable. Finally, on Christmas Eve, he sent me a long text, calling me a monster, asking where my heart and soul went, and saying that all our other friends are laughing at me.
This got Moore to thinking, as well it might. He decided that maybe liberals weren’t as tolerant as he’d previously thought. And as he sought out more people on the right and spoke to them, he discovered they weren’t as intolerant as he’d previously thought. And he ended up here:
I finally had to admit to myself that I am closer to the right than where the left is today. And, yes, just three months ago, I voted for Hillary Clinton.
I’ve written before many times about political changers, both my own story and those of others (see right sidebar). All stories are different, and all are somewhat alike. Moore’s story is marked, I think, by its speed, but that sometimes happens (mine was slower). Sometimes political affiliation is a sort of house of cards, and knock one of the supporting pillars down and the whole thing collapses.
I think Moore’s experience was relatively quick because it began with the personal: his ostracization by people he had thought were his friends. This was a wake-up call—pow in the gut, where it hurts. For most changers, including me, it happens the other way around: first the political change (perhaps for reasons more abstract), then the coming out, and then the angry reaction of people once thought to be friends. For me, that angry group was neither as large as for Moore nor as vicious for the most part as what he reports, but it was still a very distressing and even shocking experience.
The sentence of Moore’s that struck home the most powerfully for me was this one, because it points out the surprise of seeing something one has never really seen (or experienced personally) before:
I realized that, for the first time in my adult life, I was outside of the liberal bubble and looking in.
Moore adds that what he saw was ugly. I don’t run in circles as extreme or as politically-oriented as Moore does, and my experience occurred around 2003-2004 in an atmosphere that was somewhat milder in general in terms of political polarization. However, it is a strange experience to be on the outside looking in, for the first time.
I kept wanting to say to my friends, “You know me! You know I’m not mean, or stupid. I’m the same person I always was!”
Sometimes I did say that. Sometimes (actually, most of the time) we remained friends. With some people I still can discuss politics without it turning into a confrontation. With some, we avoid the topic. But since I never really did discuss politics that much with people in general, it’s not that hard to avoid doing so now. Some people did stop talking to me, but it was a minority.
In that I’m more fortunate than Moore, who is a journalist in 2017, and a gay journalist at that. His friends are probably highly political and even more activist and to the left than most of my friends, and many of them are probably younger as well. That makes it harder for him. I applaud his courage. He’ll find a home on the right, I think, and realize it can for the most part be a welcoming place. Maybe he already has realized that.