As we reflect on the Pulse tragedy, we're looking at the gay community from different perspectives. This means connecting with two gay men who are staunch Republicans.
What You Need To Know
- Randy Ross was former President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign chairman
- In the Pulse aftermath, Ross's party affiliation kept him at arm's length from others in the gay community
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- SEE ALSO: Biden to sign bill designating Pulse Nightclub as a national memorial
Randy Ross was former President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign chairman. He even introduced the former president in Kissimmee.
“Once I came out as a conservative, but more importantly, became the Trump chairman, I took over (Edgewood Mayor) John Dowless's position ...,” Ross told us.
Both men have commonalities.
“I'm a gay man,” said Ross. “I like men. That's what I — you know. It doesn't mean that I'm a bad person because I not only happen to support Trump, but I support our governor (Ron DeSantis).”
According to the Williams Institute, in the 2020 election, only 15% of registered LGBTQ voters are Republicans while 50% are Democrats. In the Pulse aftermath, Ross's party affiliation kept him at arm's length from others in the gay community.
“Back during Pulse, it was very interesting to me because I didn't get to mourn like everyone else did,” he said, choking up.
Mayor Dowless agrees.
“Many of us who got a text the next day [after the massacre], just asking, Are you OK?” Dowless said, fighting back tears. “I was probably met with more acceptance and more toleration, if you will, when my Republican friends found out I was gay versus years later when many of my gay friends found out I was a Republican.”
Mayor Dowless says he knows many people who are tight-lipped because they lean right.
"There's still a bit of fear out there,” said Dowless.
Fear, but still some forward movement with freedom of expression as time moves on.
Both Ross and Mayor Dowless say they consider themselves — over anything else — “American” and that their sexuality is just a part of them, and not their identities.