SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Army veteran Max Guglielmelli is used to being stared at while he holds his boyfriend’s hand and walks around The Castro district of San Francisco. The Castro is famous for embracing gay culture, but his bright red “Make American Great Again” hat is shunned, he said.
“I get a lot of dirty looks. When I’m getting coffee or whatever, people behind the counter make no eye contact. They don’t want to see my face,” Guglielmelli told KRON4.
While social interactions are less than friendly, the 32-year-old former combat infantry soldier said he’s never been physically attacked over his hat.
“I’ve had people ask me, ‘Do you feel safe?’ Isn’t that telling (of) which side is violent? Because I’m just going out there to walk,” he said.
One sub-culture within the Castro that did not have an aversion to his “MAGA” hat was, somewhat ironically, people who do not wear clothes at all.
“Shout-out to the nudists,” Guglielmelli laughed. A photograph Guglielmelli showed KRON4 shows him smiling arm-in-arm with nudists.
Guglielmelli’s boyfriend lives in the Castro, is also politically conservative, and sometimes wears a U.S. Border Patrol hat.
“It takes a lot of guts to do that,” Guglielmelli said.
Guglielmelli was born and raised in Milpitas, Calif. before he enlisted in the Army when he was 18 years old. He was stationed in Kuwait during the War in Afghanistan. Despite identifying as gay for “as long as he can remember,” he followed the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy.
When Guglielmelli returned from overseas and moved to Oakland, he experimented with “gender-bending” and joined The Radical Faeries counter-culture scene.
“When I was in the military I felt like I was the only liberal, so I couldn’t wait to come back to California. I did some gender-bending, wearing makeup and skirts. In the Army we all had to look the same. I really wanted to express myself. Be more unique,” he said.
During Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and first year as President, Guglielmelli began to question his core values and swung right. He became disillusioned with the left because he felt there was too much “hate” coming from liberals in the gay community.
“They are the ones that are the most vicious. I looked inside and I was like, ‘Oh, when I was supposed to be tolerant, I was the most intolerant,'” he said. “I started to question everything. The more educated I became, the more conservative I became in 2017.”
Guglielmelli said he didn’t like feeling like a sheep, so he began to educate himself more on issues he felt mattered most: cutting taxes and bureaucratic red tape, helping business owners, lowering unemployment, supporting veterans, and protecting the freedom of individuals.
“Taxes, hello! Tax, tax, tax. The Democrats want to tax everything. They want to take our rights away, infringe on our freedoms,” he said.
Eventually, he realized that Trump was the right leader for America, Guglielmelli said.
“So here I am. A Trump supporter and conservative,” he said.
Guglielmelli encourages more gay Americans to vote for Trump in the 2020 election.
“This President likes you. He’s not going to take rights away from you. He wants you to be a free American. He’s OK with gay marriage. He’s OK with gay people,” Guglielmelli said.
Guglielmelli said he’s just like every other American who wants a family and wants to live in a house with white picket fence. He believes the country has reached a point where that’s possible.
“Gays are doing great. Now I want a better America,” he said.
However, when Zahra Billoo sees a MAGA hat, she says it makes her worry about her safety.
Billoo is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Bay Area Council on American-Islamic relations, also known as CAIR.
She says people who wear the MAGA hat represent a president who targets members of her community and other people of color.
“When I see someone wearing the MAGA hat, what I see is an endorsement of the white nationalist agenda that President Donald Trump has put forward through his words and his actions,” Billoo said.
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