People are complicated. Each of us has different faces that we show to people in our lives. There is the person we show to our business associates and another that we show to our neighbors and friends and another that we share only with our families and those that we love.

Take me for example. I am many things. First, I am a loving father whose children are the most important thing in the world to me and who I would do any thing for. I am also a life-long New Jersey resident who embraces his status as a proud, South Jersey Piney.

As many people know I am a veteran of the U.S. Army, which is why I am so passionate about making sure that our nation takes care of the men and women who serve. I am also a lifelong hunter and 2ndAmendment advocate who will fight for to protect our Constitutional right to bear arms. What most people don’t know is that I am also a gay man.

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Yes – I am gay. It took me years to acknowledge this myself. I always knew that there was something different about me and, if I am being honest with you, my life has not been an easy one. Having always been a part of stereotypically masculine pursuits like the military, hunting and gun rights, I was afraid of rejection by my friends and peers if I were to tell them the truth.

As with many people who have different sexual orientations, I tried to deny to myself who I was. However, the protective wall that I tried to build up in my youth crumbled when I met my partner, Jeff Poissant, while we were serving in Germany. Meeting Jeff changed my life. He changed the way I saw myself, and we created a very rich life together. I loved him.

The reason I am telling you all of this is because there are still a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be a gay person in America today. The truth is that we come in all shapes and sizes, all colors and religions and yes, our political beliefs span the full range of expression from liberal to conservative.

When people meet me, very few if any think that I am gay because I don’t fit any of the perceived stereotypes. But that is exactly the point. We are all unique individuals created in God’s image and no one can be lumped into a category based on one aspect of their life.

For too long, conservatives have failed to embrace homosexuals and people of other sexual orientations due to the assumption that they are automatic liberals. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are many gays who are ready to help us spread conservative values, but they are afraid of rejection. As conservatives, we need to let these people know that they can join our movement without fear and that we welcome the addition of their voices to help us spread the message of freedom and liberty.

When I open up to people about my personal life, I am surprised by the positive reactions I get. Most people tell me that they have a gay brother or sister or daughter or son. At first, I was surprised by this but over time I have come to find that it is the common response. The truth is that gay people are all around us – they just don’t wear signs announcing who they love.

I call on all of my supporters and the people of New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District to join me in welcoming people of different persuasions to join us in creating a new agenda for American conservatism that rejects the status quo and that take positive action on the issues that confront our state and nation.