Shortly after I turned nineteen, I stood on those famous yellow footprints in Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego like so many Marines before me. As a gay man living in the conservative state of Idaho, I’d felt my fair share of discrimination, and as I trained alongside my black brothers and sisters, I learned that racism still exists. Those who committed it were swiftly and sometimes violently dealt with, usually by a white guy. The specific examples are better left unsaid.

Shortly after I left the Marines, I began community college in Bellingham, Washington. I was quickly indoctrinated in liberal ideology. One of the most poignant memories involves my first diversity training class. I was a school employee, and my attendance was mandatory. The teacher, a heterosexual woman, explained the atrocities and abuse the LGBT community has encountered throughout history. Indeed, my kind have been persecuted for generations. She then explained how we, meaning gay and lesbian folk, prefer the term “queer.”

Being that I’d only ever heard this term in a derogatory manner, I raised my hand to object. “No, I do not like that term. Do not call me that.”

The teacher quickly changed her tone and decided it’s best that people define themselves. A wise move, but in doing so, she obliterated her own theory that the word “queer” was taken back by the queers.

The next lesson was on white privilege. Here the teacher told us we must follow one rule before we listen: assume everything said is true. I’m not kidding. We were not to question the teaching. We were to passively listen. She wasn’t asking us to stay silent during the lecture a reasonable request she was asking us not to question the teaching, even after the lecture. To summarize the lesson, we were taught that whites are the oppressors and people of color are the oppressed. If you are white, you are racist, if not openly racist, implicitly.

The next lesson was on white privilege. Here the teacher told us we must follow one rule before we listen: assume everything said is true.

These types of lessons extended into a few classes I took at the community college and into the prestigious Cornell University, where I graduated with my bachelors. The topics included the idea that hegemony was the new form of slavery (i.e. the admiration of hard work is an idea from the ruling class, hegemonically imposed on the working class to keep us working), all men, especially white men, are perpetuators of the patriarchy which imposes brutal capitalism on society, and the world is divided into the oppressors and the oppressed (whites are generally the oppressors).

It would take hours to dive into each produced theory social justice academics have come up with, but the examples I used suffice.

In other words, I am both the oppressor (a white man) and the oppressed (a gay man). I have privilege, and yet I’m at a disadvantage. If this seems confusing, it’s because it is.

Besides the obvious contradictions in leftist academia, like the idea that gender doesn’t exist except when it comes to a transgender individual that wants to change their gender, there is a more sinister ideology. It seemed to come about around 2016 during the contentious Trump vs. Clinton election. It was the idea that if you truly follow and believe in leftism, a family that doesn’t subscribe should be disowned.

I followed through. I’ve always committed to what I believe. I stopped speaking to my family, I berated and mocked my siblings for not believing in white privilege, and I even went on to ostentatiously write about my dogmatic beliefs for six months at Philadelphia Gay News. I extended leftist ideology into my relationship with my husband. I would grow infuriated when he disagreed with the 2021 Black Lives Matter protests that turned violent on many occasions. I was upset, unhappy, and prone to conflict.

But then I hit a breaking point.

Without my family at my side and with the draconian lockdowns in full effect, I experienced depression like I’d never experienced before. I quit my job and started therapy. Politics wasn’t a part of my therapy, however, through it, I was able to see the error of my ways. I started to question my beliefs. Was capitalism so bad? Are all white people racist? If gender doesn’t exist, why does the Left demand we call trans people by the gender they identify with? On the economic side, I also had some questions. If capitalism is so bad, why has it lifted millions of people out of poverty all over the world, while communism has killed time and time again? If our welfare system helps lift people out of poverty, why does it need expanding?

But I truly believe the most insidious part of leftist thinking is its hatred of the white picket-fence American dream. The Left despises the family unit. I recall being called a “supporter of the patriarchy” because I mentioned I wanted to buy a home and build equity. Perhaps the worst treatment comes from my own kind. My husband and I have been mocked by gay men in Philadelphia for living in the suburbs and wanting to start a family. When I mention that I rekindled my relationship with my more conservative mother, they say I should have cut her out entirely because of her beliefs, as they did with their family.

I truly believe the most insidious part of leftist thinking is its hatred of the white picket-fence American dream.

I refuse to do so. They say family is something you can create, which I don’t necessarily deny. But to disavow and disown your family for ideological differences is not good for society. If you think this isn’t happening, read this.

I’m not sure what the end goal is for the Left, but I know it took me down a terrible and lonely path. I do know that the divide isn’t even. By and large, white, educated liberals are far more likely to disavow those on the right. I’m not a social scientist, but my experience coming from a rural conservative town and moving to multiple liberal cities has shown me that the opinions I share have only been tolerated in one environment. My conservative family didn’t disown me. I disowned them.

I’m proud to say I’ve turned away from the Left, but even if I hadn’t, my family would still have loved me. No longer will I listen to a side that says they don’t matter. Family values matter, and family matters more. Family brings us together and keeps us together, while the leftist ideologies I encountered along the way tried only to divide us all.

Johnathan Gilmore is a graduate student at Drexel University. He is a combat veteran that spent four years in the Marine Corps with one deployment. He holds a bachelor degree in Communication from Cornell University. He is also a member of the Log Cabin Republicans of Philadelphia.

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11 thoughts on “Johnathan Gilmore: Why I left the Left”

  1. Yes tell me again about how open minded and pro-free speech the right-wingers using the power of the government to ban books in TN and TX are. How about right-wing pastor Greg Locke literally holding a book burning?

    Tell me how it’s not really that bad that a GOP bill in Iowa proposes using taxpayer money to install cameras in every classroom to make sure teachers only teach what’s approved by a bunch of politicians. Is that not far more “draconian” than any public health measure ever was?

    Tell me how the party that just officially deemed the Jan. 6th attack “legitimate political discourse” and is doing everything they can to hamper investigations into its causes are NOT the radicals but is actually the party of “law and order”.

    “The Left despises the family unit.” Come on, man. Enough with the divisive hyperbole. You’re saying the party that worships a philandering, many times divorced man who literally used campaign money to make a hush payment to silence a porn star he cheated on his wife with loves the family unit? Give me a break.

    1. Mr. Bunch, I can assure you that many gay men have departed the left, such as myself and much earlier than Mr. Gilmore. And almost 50 years ago, throughout my four years in college, I was a card carrying member of the Socialist Workers Party of America and (then) proudly so. When I secured a position with a computer chip manufacturer in the early 80s, my viewpoints on macro and micro econmics began a migration to the center. The current poltical poop-show has its genesis in the early 90s and has only degenerated further and thanks to the echo chambers built by both left and right cable news networks and social media. Thirty years ago, I switched careers and began to teach biology and chemistry in high schools in the city public school district. What an eye opener that was as I waded through the muck of a once admired educational system turned puppet of a political party. I and my husband are still registered democrats because we only have (minimal) choice during the primaries in this one party town. Republics and Democracies are the most treasured gifts of Western Civilization and both major parties are making a mockery of them both. The question for gay men and lesbians is where do we go, once we pull the dog collars of the left off from our necks? And oh, by the way, the antics of William Jefferson Clinton in the Oval Office with a certain intern, his famous lawyer quote to the press after being caught (with his pants down) and Hillary’s non-departure to ride his coat tails to political power speak volumes for the Democratic Party’s take on family values.

    2. Tell me how it’s not really that bad that a GOP bill in Iowa proposes using taxpayer money to install cameras in every classroom to make sure teachers only teach what’s approved by a bunch of politicians. Is that not far more “draconian” than any public health measure ever was?

      The taxpayers are the ones PAYING those teachers, i.e. teachers work FOR the taxpayers. Which means they better damn well be doing the job as defined by their employer.

      Do you support law enforcement officers being required to wear body cams? If not, why not?

  2. This is brilliant, heartbreaking, important. I’ll post this on all of my social platforms. It speaks to the hypocrisy of those who curate their tolerance to accept only things and values in which they believe. It is a perfect expression of how the far left and its trolls seek to destroy the nuclear family (something Daniel Patrick Moynihan saw decades ago.) This is not about criticizing classic liberalism. This is about exposing the woke and the progressives for their philosophy, and their politics of rage and shame. Beautifully done.

  3. I’m sorry, Johnathan, but I had to laugh when you wrote “the left despises family values.” The Republican party has a creepy fealty to a man who never met a wife he didn’t cheat on, and he has five children by three different women. Newt Gingrich = 3 wives, serial cheater. Rudy Giuliani = 3 wives, serial cheater. Republicans are no longer the party of morals, family values, or fiscal conservatism. I’ve been married for 45 years. Every Democrat I know has family values. Maybe you are watching too much Fox News, but you are wrong that Democrats despise family value.

  4. I’d be happy to respond. I don’t agree with banning books. I never said I did. I do agree with school choice, and I hope that we see more of that. I also believe that parents should have a say in what their kids learn, and I full-heartedly disagree with teaching kids that we live in a society that has oppressors and the oppressed and that this distinction comes down to race and privilege.

    As for the family unit, the left’s dogmatic approach to their ideology, saying that family doesn’t matter if they don’t agree with you, saying that friends(life long friends) don’t matter because they don’t hold the same ideology as you, is absolutely anti family. Outside of the quantifiable evidence that shows this to be true, anecdotally I’ve seen it time and time again.

    I think it’s important to note how you immediately lumped me in with a party. You also lumped conservatives in with a party. My family identifies as independents, however, that isn’t really relevant. Parties were not mentioned in my article.

  5. Hi Jonathon,

    Originally being from the south but now living in PA and knowing numerous LGBT people who have left the south due to how Republican politicians have passed bills aimed at their “lifestyle”. I’m curious what your thoughts are on TN passing bills allowing medical providers to refuse service to LGBT people because of their religious or Tn general assembly passing a bill last year that passed a bill to allow adoption and welfare agencies to reject LGBTQ parents if the agency cited its “sincerely held religious beliefs.”? I also wanted to know if you know of any democratic sponsored bills that you feel directly target or harm lgbt people.

    1. Hey Tony,

      I agree with freedom of association. I don’t agree with some religious peoples antigay beliefs. As someone who plans on having a couple kids, it is very disappointing that some religious adoption centers would prefer a child is without parents before allowing them to be adopted by a loving family.

      But sort of like my other comment, I never mentioned republicans or democrats, and that’s a big part of my piece here. The left would have you think that I am a racist, internally homophobic bigot simply because I don’t agree with them. That, in their eyes, means I voted republican. It ain’t that simple.

      I would also add that democrats were anti gay until around 2012. And I came out in 2012 in the Marine Corps just after don’t ask don’t tell was repealed. When I came out, I didn’t experience any sort of homophobia. I was told that this was because I was a white masculine male by the left. How reductive. Never mind that I had just completed a combat tour and had proven myself to be a warrior.

      When it comes to changing peoples’ hearts and minds, doing it by force, i.e. legislation, doesn’t work. It builds resentment. Possibly what is holding us back is religious peoples fear that the lgbt people bring with them a far left ideology. I believe that is because we are used by the left as a bludgeon.

      The more we stand up and say we are individuals, not tools to be used, the more acceptance we’ll gain. Should be people simply accept us, yes I believe so. After all, Leviticus also said people shouldn’t wear multicolored robes, shouldn’t shave, eat shellfish, etc…

      I’ll also add that while some christian communities, many in the black community, are against gay families, my bigger fear is islamic religions. When I flew to Thailand, I passed through Qatar. My husband and I had to pretend to be buddies. We were still followed by morality police. Yea, they have morality police. The left never mentions this, never condemns this. That terrifies me.

      So when it comes to picking a side, which reducing an individual to a side is less than helpful, I’ll pick the side that will deny me an adoption from a religious adoption center over a side that stays silent about gay genocide in islamic countries.

      1. Jonathan,
        That is an interesting perspective that one policy directly affects you, refusing an adoption, while I have never verbally hear republicans put much energy in bringing up gay genocide unless its an excuse to bash Islamic people. It looks like you are scapegoating white Christians by bringing up Black Christians who have very little political clout in the country when compared to white Christians who are the ones passing anti lgbt policies. You mentioned that Democrats were anti gay until 2012 but never said when the republican party become anti gay?

  6. Thank you for your thoughtful article Jonathan. I do not agree with those here whose only comment was to give knee jerk reaction because you attempt to say why your political thought process continues to evolve. Only the ideologues on either end of the spectrum shut out such dialogue. I find that my personal point of view on many topics would not be considered an orthodox one from those whom I may agree with on a majority of other issues. Keep up the conversation & thank you.

  7. I came across your article from 2018 via epgn exclaiming your rhetoric that people should be proud to be flamboyantly gay, wearing pink shorts and what have you. So now you are a man in your 30s. Can I ask you what you think such a blatant attempt to push the “gay agenda” has done for the progression of our cause in the years past? I say our, as I myself identify as a gay man with traditional values. I am married to my high school sweetheart. He is the only person whom I’ve ever been with. Ever. We got married in 2013 when we were both turning 21 years old. That was over 9 years ago this June. I don’t think you understand the damage it does to not only our culture, but to individual people as a whole when they get to a point that the idea of attaining life long genuine, trustworthy and most important traditional familial values within a marriage become non existent. I live in West Hollywood. With my husband. And our new dog since we’re getting to that next step in life where adding a family member seemed appropriate to us. And it saddens me to see just how many people are living they way you so fervently praise solely based on the facts that it’s what they’re being told to do. Years from now, if our right to marry is revoked and/or current marriages are no longer recognized as legitimate. Who do you think the “traditional gays” will be the first to blame.

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