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Friday, April 19, 2024

How UF’s LGBTQ+ community is shaping the 2020 Democratic primaries

<p><span>Photo by </span><a href=";utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_content=creditCopyText">Cecilie Johnsen</a><span> on </span><a href=";utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a></p>

Photo by Cecilie Johnsen on Unsplash

As a gay college student, Dylan Blose’s political views are motivated by issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community.

But while he values better care for mental health because of the high suicide rate of transgender people, he also supports ideas that have nothing to do with his sexual orientation, such as the Green New Deal, a proposed resolution for the United States to reduce fossil fuel use and transition to renewable energy.

“It’s an issue where you have to be really radical,” Blose, a 19-year-old UF history freshman said, “because we don’t really have many options left.”

Because sexual orientation isn’t recorded by the university, the size of its LGBTQ 50 percent of the nation’s LGBTQ+ voters registered as Democrats and the exit of the first openly gay candidate from the presidential race, the political views of UF’s LGBTQ+ community have increased importance.

Blose, who sees this year’s Democratic presidential field as the most progressive yet, said he’s supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders because of his consistent progressive beliefs.

“He’s been fighting for queer rights since the ‘80s when no one was, other than queer people,” Blose said. 

He believes that even Pete Buttigieg, the nation’s first openly gay former presidential candidate, hasn’t spent enough time in politics to make a significant impact on the lives of LGBTQ+ people.

Buttigieg suspended his campaign on March 1 and endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president the next day on the eve of Super Tuesday when 14 states held their primary elections

Blose said although he liked Buttigieg’s passion for the country, he didn’t think the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, would be able to beat President Donald Trump in November’s general election.

“He’s too fond of the old ideas of politics being about incrementalism and compromise,” Blose said.

On the other hand, Brian Marra, an 18-year-old UF history freshman, thinks it’s more practical to support a moderate candidate such as Biden, even though he said he doesn’t particularly agree with the former vice president’s old-fashioned approach.

As a gay Democrat and a South Carolinian, Marra believes a more centrist candidate could earn more votes in places such as his home state where there is limited support for liberal candidates.

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He said while the Young Democrats of America chapter at his high school provided him a space to discuss politics with like-minded people, many conservatives in his neighborhood thought of Democrats in “a certain, very limited scope.”

Marra said these experiences encouraged him to cling to his liberal views.

“Being from a red state and being blue in my veins...I just need to find someone who has that same drive and passion that I do for the Democratic Party,” he said.

Marra, who said he was often bullied for being gay while growing up, said he favors candidates who want to help put an end to the type of discrimination he faced.

He found his views reflected in Buttigieg, whom he cast his vote for in the South Carolina presidential primary on Feb. 29 while home for Spring Break. But now that Buttigieg’s presidential bid is over, Marra said he plans to support whoever becomes the Democratic nominee.

“Regardless of whether you’re a Bernie bro or a Yang Gang supporter or a Biden supporter or anything like that, we are still Democrats,” he said. “We’re all fighting for the same general idea of policies.”

Contact Samantha Chery at Follow her on Twitter @SammyChery4276. 

Photo by Cecilie Johnsen on Unsplash

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