Over the last couple of years, I have realized something, I am always a bit of a curiosity in conservative circles for two reasons. Although I say curiosity, it’s usually a welcome curiosity that is well received. Curiosity No.1 is that I am a gay conservative, I never cease to get positive remarks on this aspect of my being. I remember last summer when I was protesting Sham Impeachment #1, there were a lot of conservative women who wanted to take their picture with me as much as they wanted to get one with Steve Scalise. Curiosity No.2 is that I am not part of the #WalkAway Movement, it’s not that I don’t support them but that I never had to Walk Away from the Democratic Party. For many reasons I was a Conservative before I even accepted I was gay.
In case you haven’t guessed by now with the fact that I am opening a legacy piece with talk of my politics vs. my sexuality, I consider Rush Limbaugh one of the reasons I developed that identify as a Conservative before anything else. Honestly, if it hadn’t been for Rush, I probably would have ended up just another gay guy obsessed with socialism and mindlessly voting Democrat because it was the easier way to go in life. Well okay, maybe I am exaggerating about the socialism a bit, but I probably would vote Democrat because it is expected of me and just toed the line. But Rush inspired me, he attacked problems with wit and logic in a way that just made sense to me, especially in my teen years. It is as you would say that Rush Limbaugh made me the conservative man I am today.
I talk very briefly about my childhood and my teen years in the Foreword of my book, it’s not something I like to talk about. Ever since I turned 7, it’s never been “easy” to be William Hellmann. But I’ll talk more about that in a second. One thing I remember is on long car rides with my father, the radio would be playing one of two things. It was either Classic Rock or Pop, like the Eurythmics or Marcy Playground, or Talk Radio with men like G. Gordon Liddy or Rush Limbaugh. We went on a lot of long car rides by the time I was 7. By then, along with the hour-long drives to see my grandparents in Chevy Chase, my father decided that we would walk the entire 185 miles of the C&O Canal Trail. (Before you clutch your pearls, we did it in segments, finally finishing in 2000.)
Those were some long car rides, to DC, Montgomery County, Western Maryland all the way out to Cumberland. There was a lot of Rock and a lot of Rush during that time. Even after we finished the Trail, we would still go on hikes and re-walk certain sections. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely wasn’t a perfect time in my life. My family was falling apart, my father alienating my mother while my self-loathing miserable aunt and my Grandmother did their part to tear my family apart. That they finally achieved when I was 11, with the help of an extremely crooked catholic nun and an unscrupulous DHS Social Worker. Not that I didn’t have my own part in that, I had undiagnosed mental health issues which would later be identified as Clinical Depression.
Between my Aunt, Grandmother, a corrupt government employee, and my own self-destructive behavior (and to a lesser degree the unscrupulous nun), they slowly made the case for removal until December of 2001, when my dad messed up and did something stupid in public. This was the final straw they were looking for, and like that I found myself in foster care at the tender age of 11, surrounded by other kids who hated me because I “acted too white” (yes, kids in the group home actually said that to me) and a mix of Group Home workers who ranged from “just there to cash a paycheck” to “sadistic child abusers who got their kicks off of hitting kids”. Once again, I might have been lost in this system where it would be easier to act the same as everyone else, to think like the boy I mentioned in my book who believed George Bush caused Hurricane Katrina. Luckily my saving grace was that they moved me to the county so I had to be bussed into school. And of course, you can guess what that bus driver played on her radio every afternoon? Once again, I was lucky it was Rush. Even with all that was familiar with my childhood torn away from me, I still had that voice I was familiar with.
It wasn’t that I learned what to think from listening to Rush. Listening to Rush taught me something more valuable, he taught me HOW to think for myself and not to be afraid to be myself. Because of him, and a few other non-political influences in my life, I had the will and courage to take the harder path in life that came from being myself. I grew up doing what “I” liked to do and pursuing the interests “I” was truly passionate about. And I didn’t have many friends, but most of the friends I did have were true friends who didn’t just like me because I went along with the crowd, they liked me for who “I” truly was as a person. That’s something that is quite rare among my generation, the millennials, they are always striving for conformity and acceptance, and unconditional approval. They know nothing of what it is to be a person, to have “I” mean more than just superficial traits.
To most millennials reading this, they will instantly assume when I say I was not afraid to be “I” as a person to mean something stupidly superficial like “I” as a white man, or “I” as a gay man. That’s not the “I” that I learned from Rush and those other influences I mentioned. I learned more than just how to be “I” the conservative. I learned to be “I” the lover of Japanese Culture. I learned to be “I” the lover of games, and “I” the lover of the ideals my country was founded upon. He taught me I could be myself, and be appreciated still. I learned from listening to him that unconditional acceptance at the cost of my identity is an empty existence. And while I cannot say I agreed with everything Rush said or believed, I can say I agreed with his conviction that America should be a free country accountable to the people and not subservient to a class of corrupt elitists. His was a profound impact on my life, and so his death has taken some time for me to process.
In the days after his death, there have been a lot of reactions. For example, a Florida Democrat who was fraudulently elected as Agriculture Commissioner in 2018 ordered her staffers to ignore an order from government DeSantis to lower flags to half-mast for Rush because he represented hate in her opinion. That’s quite puzzling to me that she thinks Rush Limbaugh stood for hate, especially since it was her fellow Democrats who took to Twitter expressing their hatred for Rush and their degenerate joy over his death. But that’s just another thing we loved about Rush, he always managed to get Liberals to expose their evil and hypocrisy. The man even managed to make liberals show their hollow soulless worldview of hatred and stupidity. And the least we can do in the wake of his death is allow him to inspire us. He has inspired this outpouring of honesty and self-reflection from me, reflection and honesty even about the most painful times of my life I would rather not talk about.
Rush may not have always been right. He may not have been really LGBT friendly, he may have aligned himself with rats like Mitt Romney. That’s okay. I didn’t need to agree with the man 100% of the time. I disagreed with a lot of what he said, but I still learned from him. I learned to be confident, I learned I do not have to make everybody like me in order to make a change in the world, and I learned to be 100%, totally and unflinchingly me.
That is Rush’s real legacy. It is a legacy the left can’t tarnish. Not a legacy of hate, nor love. It is a legacy of individuality, free-thinking, and some degree of patriotism. And that is something none of his detractors can take away from him, nor claim for themselves.