It was an unlikely journey becoming UT’s first openly gay College Republican president for chemistry senior Alec Lucas.
Growing up in the conservative town of Flower Mound, Lucas identified as Republican but struggled to reconcile his sexuality with his politics.
“You grow up feeling who you are is wrong,” Lucas said. “I was in denial for years, really up until college. I was really scared of being bullied or being harassed.”
Last week, Lucas hit a turning point and officially came out during a general meeting with College Republicans. Lucas said he wanted his visibility to encourage other gay conservatives to fully express their identities — and not feel inhibited by them.
“If there is anyone who’s in the organization who feels like they’re not welcomed for also being LGBT, or if they’re considering coming out but they’re not sure how their peers would react, they could see me,” Lucas said. “It’s not an issue. We’re not any different.”
Lucas said his conservative beliefs don’t conflict with his sexuality. His support for free-market capitalism prevails over some of his disagreements with the party’s social agenda. Nonetheless, Lucas said reconciling his party’s continuous opposition to same-sex marriage and other LGBTQ issues remains challenging.
He pointed to last year’s platforms from the Republican Party and Republican Party of Texas that both rejected the Obergefell v. Hodges decision and condoned gay conversion therapy. Lucas said these views were problematic and detracted from more important topics such as fiscal policy and national security.
“It’s wrong. Also, it’s totally proven that you can’t change your sexuality,“ Lucas said. “As conservatives, we want less government involvement. We don’t want the government in our personal lives. How much more getting into your personal life can you go?”
However, Lucas said he does not seek to impose his views on members who disagree with him.
“I’m not going to kick you out of the (organization) if you disagree with me,” Lucas said.
President of University Democrats Douglas Snyder said he welcomed Lucas’s support of the LGBTQ community and said LGBTQ representation does not have to be a partisan issue.
“These are issues that should not go red or blue,” Snyder said. “I’m happy that he’s come out. It’s always awesome to see people becoming comfortable with themselves and being able to share that with those around them.”
Eric Soo, Chairman of Baylor College Republicans, said he's supportive of Lucas' decision and described it as a boon for Republicans rather than disadvantage.
"It's a good thing," Soo said. "I hope that he's open he can broaden the appeal of our conservative message."
Republican Party of Texas Chairman James Dickey did not respond to repated requests for comment about the announcement nor did Jamie Bennett, the organization's press secretary.
Although Lucas worries being openly gay may steer away prospective members from joining College Republicans, he said what is most important is self-expression.
“If people don’t agree with me, it’s not like I’m going to take them on a field trip to a gay bar,” Lucas said. “At the end of the day, I decided that even if it hurts membership, that’s who I am. I’m not going to lie about myself.”