By Michelle Leidy-Franklin
ARGONIA – It’s not everyday that a conservative gay man from rural Kansas gets to meet a former president at an event hosted at Mar-A-Lago. For Christian Kiser, it was a highlight in his life that he won’t soon forget.
“There’s this misconception that you can’t be gay and a Republican, and that’s just not true,” said Kiser.
Kiser attended the Log Cabin Republicans’ Spirit of Lincoln Gala hosted by former President Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump at the Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., on Nov. 6. LCR believes that opposing LGBT equality is inconsistent with the GOP’s core principals and seeks to educate members of the Republican Party of the value of inclusivity. The Log Cabin Republicans is the nation’s oldest and largest group of LGBT Republicans and their allies promoting equality under the law for all, individual liberty, free markets, low taxes, and personal responsibility. Kiser sees Trump as an ally in these efforts.
“There has never been a Republican president who helped the LGBT community like President Trump,” said Kiser. “He included us at the table.”
Kiser pointed to Trump’s appointment of Richard Grenell as the director of national intelligence. Grenell is believed to be the first openly gay cabinet member. Trump appointed two openly gay judges, Mary Rowland and Patrick Bumatay. He also said Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort was the first private club in Palm Beach to allow gay members.
“Trump was the first president to want to decriminalize homosexuality on a global scale,” said Kiser. “That’s huge.”
Melania Trump was the guest of honor and recipient of the Spirit of Lincoln award for the gala. Kiser said former President Trump showed a lot of pride in Melania that evening and made the night all about her.
“Melania Trump’s work as First Lady, from helping children reach their full potential to championing a more inclusive Republican Party, has been historic,” said LCR managing director Charles Moran. “Her vocal support of Log Cabin Republicans has been a signal to Republicans everywhere that it is possible to simultaneously be conservative and support equality under the law for all Americans.”
Kiser, a country kid from Argonia, took the opportunity to thank the former president for helping Kansas farmers when he was able to shake Trump’s hand. Kiser said Trump responded by saying “what can I say, I love those Kansas farmers.”
Though Kiser and fellow Republican Dalton Glasscock helped establish the Kansas State chapter of LCR recently, it is not the first work Kiser has done in the Republican Party. At just 20 years old, Kiser is young but he is no stranger to politics. Since his early teens, Kiser has been working on the campaigns of Republican candidates including Ron Estes and Mike Pompeo.
“I believe Pompeo was the first candidate I ever knocked doors for,” said Kiser.
Now in college, Kiser is studying political science and communications. As a state chapter leader for the LCR, Kiser said he is excited for Kansas.
“It’s time for the Republican Party to back a younger generation of forward thinking legislators,” said Kiser.
Kiser said he believes the best way to modernize the Republican party is from within.
Kiser is proud of who he is, a Catholic, conservative, gay man from Argonia. He hasn’t always had an easy time with his position.
“It wasn’t all easy when I first came out,” said Kiser. “Some close-minded members of the community had some really horrible things to say. There were even threats of violence, though nothing ever happened. It just took some time for folks to see I was the same old Christian I have always been, the same kid they taught in church and at school. I’m really proud of my small town heritage and the bigotry I overcame.”
Kiser is pursuing a career in politics. He would like to someday work for the Republican National Committee. He wants to show other LGBT conservatives that there is a place for them.
“We are the big-tent party,” said Kiser.