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. 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.