Last year I went on a date with a woman and as you do these days, I googled her afterward. What I found shocked me: She was a Donald Trump supporter.
Though I had decided I didn’t want to keep dating her even before I found out about her political leanings, I kept thinking about it. I honestly didn’t understand how it was possible for a lesbian to support him. As a queer Latina and daughter of immigrants, I see Trump and those who support him as a direct threat. At the same time, my instinctive reaction on meeting a Trump voter gave me pause—If I didn’t want to date a Trump supporter, did that mean I had crossed into intolerance myself?
The vast majority of LGBTQ Americans didn’t vote for Trump, and many feel less safe under his administration. They have good reason to, considering Trump’s move to ban trans people from military service, his administration’s apparent position that people can be legally fired for being gay, and the president’s elevation of homophobes like Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, among other actions. But while there are plenty of prominent gay male conservatives—Milo Yiannopoulos, Guy Benson, and Bruce Carroll, to name three—there are far fewer gay conservative women in the public eye. They exist, but are seldom seen or heard—maybe because they worry about the consequences of airing their views.
The lesbian community is often depicted as one of tolerance and acceptance, with a dedication to liberation—and to an extent, that is certainly true. But that ethos would seem to tacitly lead to the rejection of individuals who are seen as jeopardizing those values. I spoke to several other queer women about whether they’d date a Trump supporter, and all of them said no.
“Honestly, I would run for the hills,” said Spencer Henry, a 25-year-old marketing specialist from Oakland. “I have a hard time supporting someone whose ideology directly doesn’t support people of their own community as well. I would not date a Trump supporter, period.”
“A lot of people say that politics are separate from who we are morally as people, but after having gone to law school, I realize that’s definitely not true. A lot of our political views stem from our moral views, so morally I just know that our views wouldn’t line up,” said Jaylin Hansen, a 23-year-old law student from Los Angeles.
Given all that, I figured the woman I went on a date with, Kiara Robles, would have had trouble dating. But Robles, a 26-year-old programmer for a Bitcoin company in San Francisco, told me that most of her dating experiences as a lesbian Trump supporter have been overwhelmingly positive.
“You have these little intellectual scrimmages, like little battles, and you hash it out until it’s finished,” Robles said. And when it comes to her views, Robles said they do eventually find out—but it’s not something she feels she necessarily needs to disclose or hide. “My values are my values, and it’ll become apparent very quickly,” she told me. “If someone doesn’t want to date me for my views then I don’t want to date them anyways. And I am very confident on my views, because it’s taken me years to get to this point.”
A registered Republican since the age of 18, Robles has a sharp, eccentric no-bullshit demeanor, and didn’t pause when I asked why she supports Trump. Her two big issues are immigration (she thinks the H1-B visa program for skilled workers exploits immigrants and supports the travel ban) and the media. “I voted for Trump because he was going to destroy the media. And he did. Nobody trusts the media anymore,” she said. “I don’t love the guy, but he’s the only one who’s ever gonna get any shot at immigration. I would have loved to vote for Ron Paul, but the guy is so dry.”
Robles is very public about her views. She made a YouTube video where she “came out” as a Trump supporter in 2016, and last year she got pepper-sprayed at a Milo Yiannopoulos event, then sued the University of California, Nancy Pelosi, George Soros, and others for $23 million. (The suit was eventually dropped.) Wouldn’t an experience like that, and the visibility it brought about, make dating harder? Generally speaking, Robles said, dating as a conservative woman “sucks, but it’s kind of funny. And oddly enjoyable.” People often fail to see the bigger picture of who she is as a person, she said—and “if that’s all someone thinks of you, how can you not think that’s funny?”
“Why is it that when I go to a lesbian bar the most interesting thing to say about me is that I’m a Trump supporter?”
Robles is unmoving in her support for Trump. “I voted for the guy. And I’m more outspoken about it and think people are very unfair to his presidency. What is it about Trump that makes voting for him evil?” she said. But when I brought up that Pence is a known homophobe who supports conversion therapy, Robles acknowledged this was true. She also wasn’t totally happy with all of Trump’s moves. “He makes really poor administration decisions, unfortunately. I think there’s a lot of really annoying people that like Trump and support everything he does,” she said. “I understand there’s prototypes for the wall, but where’s the funding for it?"
Though she doesn’t have a problem sharing her conservative side with others, Robles said it’s frustrating that women become completely stuck on it. “Why is it that when I go to a lesbian bar the most interesting thing to say about me is that I’m a Trump supporter?” Robles said. “Because that’s the anecdotal thing people want to smash into my identity.”
“I work at one of the biggest Bitcoin companies in the world. Almost no one asks me about that,” she added. “Which is fucking hilarious to me. Bitcoin is a greater part of my identity to me.”
Another lesbian Trump supporter that I spoke with, Yvonne Parkinson, a 27-year-old EMT based in Las Vegas, echoed Robles’s sentiments but said her dating experiences have been far more negative. Backing Trump, Parkinson told me, is a part of her that many women are unable to get past. “I’ve had women scream at me, walk away from me; I’m surprised none of them have slapped me. They get pretty worked up.”
Her awareness of potential blowback due to her views has also led Parkinson to steer clear of particular environments, and of women she may not be compatible with. “I try to avoid certain situations—not that I silence myself, but situations where I’m sure it’s gonna be full of Trump bashing or whatever,” she said. “I’ve definitely lost friends over it, unfortunately, but there’s nothing I can do about that.”
Parkinson typically avoids women who self-identify as feminist, figuring they’d clash, but she’s dating a feminist now. “We sort out our differences, we’ve gotten into debates, and it’s very respectful,” she said.
Being a gay Trump supporter sounds like a paradox to a lot of folks in the LGBTQ community. “It’s like a betrayal to the group,” Robles said. “The most hostility I’ve ever received has come from gay women, as far as I can tell.”
While Robles told me that being known as a Trump supporter hasn’t negatively impacted her life, she said that other lesbian Trump supporters have been harassed. After she posted her video about backing Trump, she said, numerous gay women privately messaged her, expressing their concerns about coming out as a gay conservative or Trump supporter. “People have sadder stories than me,” she said; some of them expressed fear of losing their jobs, friends, and family.
Robles is frustrated that many assume her sexual orientation must go hand-in-hand with her political views. “Why is being gay a political ideology? To me that’s kind of boring, like what I do on a day-to-day basis is more interesting,” Robles said. “I don’t make things political when they don’t need to be.”
But these days, it’s difficult for anything to not be political. As a member of the LGBTQ community, I would never want to make someone an outcast, even someone whose views may be in direct conflict with mine. But at the same time, I’m not willing to date someone whose politics are so antithetical to mine.
Porsha Brown, a 28-year-old attorney from El Paso, had similar thoughts. When I asked her if she’d date a Trump supporter, she said, “When I was younger, I would have unequivocally said no. Now that I’m older, I would say that I’m always going to give a strong preference to women who have a similar habits, socialization, education, intelligence as well as emotional intelligence as myself. Unfortunately, I just don’t think that’s a Trump supporter.”
Dating isn’t always easy. Ghosting, catfishing, harassment and assault are all too common. When we throw politics and sexual orientation into the mix, our assumptions and stereotypes about who we think people are can cloud our ability to see them fully. And though queer communities should be the first to withhold judgement of others, we’re often the last.
Although none of the women I spoke to for this story would date a Trump supporter, they unanimously agreed that queer people who support Trump shouldn’t be treated with disrespect, rejection, or violence. “I think everyone is entitled to have views and voice them without getting verbally harassed, or have active violence committed against them,” said Andrea Jones, a 28-year-old graduate student in Denver. “I don’t think kicking people out of the conversation is exactly helpful to changing the political landscape of today. Their points of view need to be heard. It’s important to include those voices and have a conversation without driving them away.”
Meeting Robles made me realize that my assumption that all queer women automatically lean left excluded women who fell outside of that category. I honestly didn’t believe I’d ever have to ask a queer woman if they were a conservative because I figured there was no way they could be one. Consequentially, I set myself and any queer woman I encountered up for failure and limited our ability to talk to one another.
Though I didn’t continue to date Robles (and disagree with her, obviously), talking with her reminded me of the importance of not assuming, and also reassured me that it is possible to have a tolerant conversation with someone with opposing views. Had I let her conservative label prevent me from doing that, I would be guilty of perpetuating a stereotype and failing to create a space where a dialogue is very much needed. As much as I may abhor Trump, it would be hypocritical for me to disregard or shut Robles out based solely on her conservative views.
But I still wouldn’t date a Trump supporter.
Camila Martinez-Granata is a New York City–based writer.
This article originally appeared on VICE US.