If you haven’t seen the latest facebook meme about gay people feeling unwelcome in the Republican party, you soon will. The above photo of Iowa City residents Chase Gunderson and Adam Equality Peters — and their story about how security guards 86ed them from a Romney rally for no apparent reason — has already been shared from Peters’ timeline over 700 times in less than 24 hours.
Sure, Peters and Gunderson can’t prove the security guards barred them from the event because they’re gay. A few of their facebook friends have even pointed this out. But why else would they have been told to leave? Peters and Gunderson look like the sort of guests you’d want at your party — so young, so fun, so charming, so harmless, and — so gay. Even if the security guards’ gadar was malfunctioning, they may have recognized Peters from other venues and acted to preempt him from presenting Romney with uncomfortable questions.
On October 24th, Peters (an Obama supporter) and his friend Chase Gunderson (a long-time Romney supporter) headed out for Mitt Romney’s campaign event at the Landmark Aviation airplane hangar in Cedar Rapids, IA, a 30-minute drive.
Peters explains that the evening began uneventfully:
We parked in a lot 4 miles away from the event site, where all those attending were then shuttled to the actual site. Upon arriving to the site, we got in a line and were greeted with friendly smiles… We then had our tickets swiped, went through security, and then both went to the restrooms before heading in to the building to stand and await the speech. I was the first to exit the restroom and stood to wait for Chase. As soon as he exited we began to head to the plane hangar where the event was taking place.
Alas, things unexpectedly took a turn for the worse:
Two officers and one suited man (secret service) then approached us and said with a smile, “You need to leave.” My first thought was that we were getting in the way of an important Congressman coming through, or even the candidate himself… so we walked a bit to the side. He then repeated that we needed to head to the exit and leave. They began to grow tighter around us. I said, “Excuse me?” He repeated again, “You need to leave.” Chase than said, “I’m confused, I’m a supporter of Mitt Romney … we have tickets?” … Another officer chimed in, “You need to leave.”
Peters then asked, “Why?” … “What is the reason?” Only to hear the officer repeat, “You either need to leave now or we will be forced to arrest you.”
“No one else was asked to leave. Just us. We left. Got back on a bus alone. And drove back to Iowa City.”
Peters continues writing in a state of shock, because he has enjoyed cordial relationships with various high-profile conservatives and has attended many GOP events in the past:
I’m in a state of utter confusion. I’ve been to so many Republican rallies in the last 5 years. I’ve always been courteous. I’ve never heckled. Besides some speeding tickets, I’m a law abiding citizen. I’ve greeted Mitt Romney in Muscatine and had my picture taken with him as well as with Santorum, Perry, Bachmann, Ron Paul, John McCain, etc. I attended a Santorum rally in which anyone could ask a question… I did… it had to do with gay marriage… he answered it live on CNN. I met him afterwards where he instantly recognized who I was and thanked me for coming to the event.
Mr. Romney- I may not support you… but my friend HAS and DID for the last 5 years… yet, we weren’t allowed to attend? Why? Answer me that. WHY? Was it because we are gay or looked too flamboyant for your rally? What is it? Its not a surprise to me that you would treat someone this way… but it certainly came as a surprise to one of your ardent supporters. He now sees who you truly are. The guy who likes to take away rights and silence minorities.
I’m baffled. I’m embarrassed. I’m sad. Can anyone enlighten me? I can’t help my conservative friends. Today’s Republican party is NOT evil because … um because WHY? …. um I dunno?
The various posts on Peters’ timeline reveal a young man who is much-loved, has a solid reputation, and is a thoughtful, positive, and respected voice in the mid western gay community. His eclectic forms of activism have included: Doggedly attending GOP political events to politely but firmly ask questions on behalf of the gay community; urging his 2000+ facebook friends to join him at an out-of-town lesbian couple’s wedding ceremony — whom he had just met and who had no family or friends with them — to show their love and support; and recording a heartfelt YouTube video for Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project, in which he looks his young and troubled LGBT teen viewers straight in the eye and — with gentle humor — reassures them that life really will get better when they finish high school and leave their intolerant towns. If I were one of those kids, I’d believe him.