Republican Yesterday, Democrat Now

I was raised a Republican.

Many years ago, my uncle was heavily involved in our local GOP leadership. I can remember each summer looking forward to the annual picnic and attending with my grandfather and grandmother. I have great memories of those days.

Although we were registered Republicans, I remember my father despising Ronald Reagan. We were a pro-union house and my dad, a long time Teamster would never support someone who wasn't a friend of the unions.

Over time my immediate family became independents. I choose to stay a Republican. I remember my cousin Jill calling me, "Alex P. Keaton," comparing me to Michael J. Fox's character in the television sitcom Family Ties.

As I grew into adulthood I began working with many at risk youth. Eventually I settled into a teaching job with mostly learning disabled, minority students. I also landed a coaching job in Yonkers, which is as diverse a community as you could live or work in.

What I found was that these students (my students) were not given ample educational,or economic opportunities. Their education was not as solid as mine. Resources were scarce and they would have a much more difficult time succeeding in life. The Republican party platform did not help these communities, but I remained a Republican.

Eventually I embraced being gay. I came out of the closet and took on a role of activism. Early on I was asked to attend a meeting of our county executives LGBT advisory board. I quickly learned that being a conservative Republican, they did little for the LGBT community. I watched the Ted Cruz's and Mike Huckabee's spout anti-LGBT rhetoric. I remained a Republican.

Today this changes! Amidst reports of bigoted and anti-LGBT Indiana governor Mike Pence being chosen as Donald Trump's vice-Presidential candidate, it's time to switch to the Democratic side. I just can't take it anymore!

I've voted in six Presidential elections and I've never voted Republican. However, just to be affiliated with the party makes my skin crawl. I do not want to receive any more emails, calls or anymore political literature.

I have plenty of friends and family who are Republicans. They say how much they love and support me and "my community," yet choose to vote Republican. If you support people who do not want [me] to have equal rights, you do not support me, nor my LGBT family.

Since coming out I've met and became friends with some wonderful leaders in the Democratic party. Brian Sims (PA Assemblyman), Shelley Mayer (NY Assemblywoman), Andrea Stewart-Cousins (NYS Senator), Mike Spano (Yonkers Mayor) and Michael Sabatino (Yonkers City Councilman). I apologize for not pulling the trigger earlier and for being complacent.

How any LGBT individual can vote Republican is beyond me. How can you vote for a platform that says you are not equal? This is the Republican party, anti-LGBT, divisive and filled with hate. It feels good to know that I will no longer have any affiliation with that party.... and in November I can proudly vote as a Democrat.