“Conservatives of every race, gender, faith, and sexual orientation exist and we believe in conservative principles just as strongly as any stereotypical Republican does,” Meredith Ancret Walker writes in the foreword of her new e-book, “A New Breed of Elephant.”
“We also really dislike being condescended to, told we are self-loathing or brainwashed, or swept under the rug so that liberals can conveniently accuse our entire political party of every -ism and -phobia in existence… plus a few that they just made up for fun.”
The book, available on Amazon in Kindle format, sprang out of Walker’s efforts to share her experiences as a self-described “gay female Republican” and to find other minority conservatives online. She used the social media platform Tumblr as her main outlet. “It’s kinda between a blog and Twitter, a little less formatted,” she told Opportunity Lives. “I didn’t really expect to get that many followers, but it started gaining by the thousands. A surprising number of conservatives for a very liberal site. And now I’m kinda famous.”
In fact, an experiment that Walker expected to “piss off as many people as possible” ended up filling a niche. “I just kinda stumbled into it,” she admitted. “I knew one other gay and conservative blog… I was just trying to separate my fandom from my political views. So, I just popped over and started a second blog.”
Her posts immediately caught on. “I had like 100 followers the first day. From there people would send me messages. I would get things like ‘reading your stuff makes me feel like I’m not alone,’ because to a great degree, they feel isolated in their communities. They are looking for a place where no one judges them for their political beliefs or their sexuality,” she said.
Walker knew she wanted to write about her experiences and those of the people she met, but it was her mother that gave her the idea for her book.
“She told me a story about a woman who had traveled across the country interviewing people [throughout] America.” Walker recalled. “I thought that would take some of the pressure off me.”
“I was wrong,” she added with a laugh — but she pursued the idea and began interviewing some of the conservatives she met through her Tumblr page.
Originally, Walker wanted the book to highlight different types of conservatives, but she soon found more similarities than differences. Each of her interview subjects was given a survey about the core ideas of conservatism, with questions covering certain policy issues and the role of government generally.
“There were a lot of repeating statements” in response, she said. “Small government, low taxes, protecting our rights… It came down to 10 or 12 core conservative values. There were different issues here and there, but for the most part 80 percent of it was the same across the board.”
Obviously, Walker’s own experiences as a lesbian Republican shaped her views. She says she finds a lot more negativity from liberals than conservatives about that.
“Conservatives are actually really, really open,” she said. “I occasionally get someone who is snippy or rude; I’ve had the ‘I’ll pray for you’ comment from the socially conservative. But for the most part, [they] don’t seem to care what I do in my personal life.”
Liberals are different, Walker says.
As a gay female Republican, Walker wanted to highlight other minority conservatives in her new book. | Photo: Meredith Walker
“I have messages online telling me I should kill myself, I’ve been brainwashed, I’m a paid shill for the right — though, if someone did want to make me a paid shill for the right, I’m open,” she said. “They are very, very negative. I have had negative reactions in the gay community, too, when people find out I’m conservative. They have one of two reactions: they start preaching or clam up.”
Intensely negative reactions have kept Walker mostly out of the “gay” scene, she says.
“A few years ago I did try to go to the gay pride event in Phoenix, and a candidate for mayor, a Republican, went to the event,” Walker recalled. “So I sat down and had a chat with him. While I’m sitting there, this group of gay guys started yelling at him, [screaming] that no self respecting gay would ever talk to him.”
“One of them spat at us,” she added. “It landed on us, on our faces.”
Experiences like that one led Walker to “disengage” with the gay community. She doesn’t miss it much, except “It makes it kinda hard to find a date.” But she says she doesn’t feel like she’s missing out too much. “I don’t have anything in common with them politically or philosophically.”
One of the difficulties Walker often comes across is how people in the gay community view themselves as the same.
“That really annoys me,” she said. “I don’t understand why people have this idea, that gay people are like the Borg. We all have to have the same opinions and the same priorities. I’m supposed to vote for people that are only pro-gay marriage and that’s supposed to be the only thing I vote about.”
“But I’m not a single issue voter. My brain is bigger than that. I can handle multiple issues at a time.”
“But I’m not a single issue voter. My brain is bigger than that. I can handle multiple issues at a time”
Even while attempting to overcome this stereotype, Walker doesn’t think she has it as bad as some other minority conservatives.
“Racial minorities had stories about their own family being against them on their political beliefs,” she said. “One actually told me how her family disowned her over [differing] politics… a lot of people had that same story.”
As Walker talked to conservatives of different races, sexualities and ages, her book began to evolve.
“When I started the book, it was mostly to show how diverse conservative people are, because of the surprised and shocked reaction I got,” she explained. “But one of the questions I asked everyone was how they felt about conservative outreach. They all felt the conservative outreach could be better. So I began to write mostly about those ideas and how we can repair the conservative message, and how we can get people to come into the party again by building a broader coalition.”
Find out more about how the Republican Party can expand its base and bring in minority conservatives by purchasing Walker’s book online. You can follow her on Twitter @MeredithAncret.
Katrina Jorgensen is a contributor for Opportunity Lives. You can follow her on Twitter .