With more and more rights secured, the LGBT community is becoming harder to herd into one corner.
The 2016 U.S. Presidential election is an example of this evolution. Once considered a lock for Democratic Party support, more gays are beginning to identify as Republicans.
Eric Gilbert is a 48-year-old bisexual man from Boca Raton who vocally supports Donald J. Trump.
Gilbert, who says his line of work is sales, does not believe the government’s employment numbers.
“Underemployment is really somewhere around 40 percent,” Gilbert said, in a telephone call to SFGN. “Where are the good paying jobs? I know so many people that gotta drive Uber cars just to get by.”
Gilbert said he doesn’t buy into the hype that Trump is a bigot, instead insisting the billionaire businessman was one of the first to implement workplace protections for gay and lesbian employees at his Atlantic City, N.J. casinos.
“The country’s in deep trouble and Mr. Trump is the only one who can turn things around,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert said he has received a harsh backlash from other gay men because of his support for Trump.
“I’ve had some guys defriend me on Facebook,” he admitted.
Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, has passionate gay support too. Mitchell Stollberg-Appleyard, a married gay man from Oakland Park, is actively campaigning for the avowed socialist.
“Bernie has been consistent with his values throughout his career,” Stollberg-Appleyard said. “He has stood up for and defended the LGBT community before it was the accepted thing to do.”
Stollberg-Appleyard said he has been phone banking for the Sanders campaign and is confident the former Mayor of Burlington, Vermont will win the Democratic Party’s nomination.
“He’s going to surprise people,” Stollberg-Appleyard said.
Elsewhere, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has no shortage of gay supporters. One of those is Noah Kim, a volunteer for the Clinton campaign in Iowa. Days before the Iowa Caucuses, Kim introduced former U.S. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband retired Naval Capt. Mark Kelly to a room full of canvassers in Des Moines.
The couple spoke of the need to reform America’s gun control regulations, with Kelly saying Clinton was the right person to “make it happen.”
Afterward, Kim, a gay Asian American who lives in Virginia, said it is “common sense” to enact better legislation on firearms, adding “tightening” the gun show loophole is possible.
As for Clinton winning the Presidency, Kim said count on it.
“We are very confident in our ground game,” Kim said. “We’ve had volunteers out every weekend through sub-zero temperatures, through bad weather…if that doesn’t show a supporter base and a grassroots volunteer base as enthusiastic, excited and committed to electing Hillary Clinton as our next President I don’t know what does.”
Caucus results from Iowa show Hillary Clinton beating Bernie Sanders by less than one percentage point. Participation remained high in the Midwestern state.
“It was exciting, a bit chaotic, but it got organized,” said Julie Joyce, a lesbian from Des Moines, who pledged her support for Hillary Clinton at Polk County’s precinct 55.
“She’s the best candidate for the LGBT community,” Joyce said. “Most Republicans make me cringe.”