Former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner did more than come out as a transgender woman in his 20/20 interview Friday night — he came out as a Republican, a party affiliation shared by a minority of LGBT people.
Jenner disclosed his political leanings when Diane Sawyer asked how he felt when President Obama recently became the first president to use the word “transgender” in a State of the Union address. “Did you cheer the president?” Sawyer asked.
“I will certainly give him credit for that,” Jenner replied. “But not to get political, I’ve just never been a big fan. I’m kind of more on the conservative side.”
Sawyer then asked him if he is a Republican, and he said he is, adding, “I believe in the Constitution.” He also said he is a Christian.
Sawyer also inquired as to whether he’d be willing to ask Congress’s top Republicans, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to back LGBT causes. “In a heartbeat, why not?” Jenner said. “And I think they’d be very receptive to it.” He said he realized his transgender identity may bother some conservative Republicans, but added that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have a monopoly on “understanding.”
Jenner’s revelation of his political position resulted in some angry tweets. Some quoted by The Blaze, a conservative site, include “Bruce Jenner is so gross … he’s a freaking Republican” and “Bruce Jenner comes out … as a Republican. Now THAT’s offensive. This country is going to hell in a hand basket.” His affiliation is not a popular one with LGBT people; The Washington Post pointed to a Gallup poll from last year indicating that only 21 percent of LGBT Americans identify as Republican, adding that there is little data available on the party identification of transgender people specifically.
Jenner received praise, though, from the Log Cabin Republicans. “As the nation’s only organization representing LGBT conservatives and straight allies, Log Cabin Republicans congratulates Bruce Jenner in the tremendous courage he demonstrated tonight, being true to himself both in terms of his personal identity as well as his political identity,” said a statement issued Friday by executive director Gregory T. Angelo. “There is a home for you in Log Cabin Republicans — as there is for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender conservatives and straight allies.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Although Jenner identifies as a woman, he has not requested that female pronouns or a different name be used.