Christopher Deraney On Seeking Office As An Openly Gay Republican In Georgia
We grew up with Christopher Deraney in a small town just south of Atlanta, Georgia. The demographic is mostly white, middle to upper-middle class, extremely religious, and primarily Republican. Our experience growing up around very conservative people sent us running in the opposite direction from religion and conservatism the first chance we got, but evidently our upbringing didn’t have the same effect on everyone as Christopher recently announced he was running for GA State House of Representatives – as a Republican.
We recently did a congratulatory post on our personal FB page announcing Deraney’s running and the post spawned a heated debate via comments of support and opposition. To be honest we have many questions as well so we contacted Deraney and asked if he would share his perspective with us. We chose to pose a question and present his unedited response so that he could explain his position in his own words. We think the points he makes are valid and thought provoking.
The Question: As a gay man seeking office why do you feel that the republican party is the best platform for you and what benefits do you see this having for the party, it’s constituents, and the LGBT community?
“Years ago, while I was finishing my undergraduate degree at Georgia Southern University, my cousin dragged me to an open forum and debate on gay marriage hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Student Alliance. I had recently come out the year or two before, so I was still relatively shy about speaking about it publicly (shy not being a quality I usually adhered to).
As the forum progressed and grew increasingly more tense, it dawned on me that being gay and being conservative clearly put me at odds with two entirely different groups of people. So, without giving it another thought, I stood up and made my way to the podium.
“Good evening, my name is Christopher. I am gay, I am a Christian…and I’m a Republican,” I said, adding that I am that guy that had a ‘W The President’ sticker just under a rainbow strip proudly displayed on the back of my white Honda Accord.
…you could have heard a pin drop.
For the next ten minutes I explained to a wide-eyed audience that my faith and my upbringing was a staple in my life and that being conservative, like being gay, was just another piece of the puzzle.
Fast forward ten years, and I am on the journey of lifetime and a mission to close a gap.
I’m often asked if I was raised in a conservative, Christian household, and when I reply ‘yes’, the liberal thinker often assumes that I am just riding on my parents political coat tails—that’s simply not the case. My journey of self-discovery and personal acceptance was a double edged sword when faced with coming into my own as a gay man and as a Republican—and was a journey that transpired with thought and reason.
The phrase Liberty and Justice for All probably should have had the word freedom inserted into it. As a conservative, I see it as my duty and privilege to defend and uphold the freedoms that were prescribed to us in our Constitution. No matter your political creed, a smaller, simpler government is not a bad thing. A tighter grasp on the country’s checkbook is not a bad thing. Ensuring that the freedoms given to one man and woman is afforded to the next is not a bad thing. It’s not about race, it’s not about being a republican or democrat or libertarian. It’s about one thing—commonality. We all share it and when you bust it down to its simplest form, we all want it.
As a gay man, I want what everyone else does—to be treated equally under the law. I was raised in a strong family unit and it has always been my desire to one day have a family of my own. I certainly don’t need a piece of paper to allow me to have that, but I certainly deserve it. I believe that we, the younger generation and more specifically young republicans, have an incredible opportunity to seize. But, covering all conservatives and Republicans under one blanket is not only counterproductive, it displays a level of intolerance and a lack of acceptance that we, in the gay community, so desperately fight for.
A gay Republican may be a rarity, but it certainly would be a boon for the Republican party. To affect any shift in the paradigm, you must first create a reason to open a dialogue and this type of candidate can do just that. It’s no secret that many our age (and even in the gay community) are fiscally conservative, and I have heard time and again that were it not for this one issue, many would actually be Republican. The end goal may be far down the road, but the time is now.
By embracing our gay brothers and sisters and ensuring that they are afforded the same rights as everyone else, the Republican party has the opportunity to demonstrate to its constituents and to the gay community that inclusion, freedom and liberty for all is a platform that everyone can stand on.”
Deraney is running to represent District 78 in the Georgia State House of Representatives and we wish him the best of luck! We admire anyone that goes against the grain and charts his own course! Check out his website to learn more at www.christopherjderaney.com