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.