When Awet Eyasu moved to the United States as a young graduate student, he had never met an openly LGBTQ person and would not have considered himself an LGBTQ ally. But over time, his feelings have changed.
“I was not one of those people who thought being gay was natural,” he told Freedom for All Americans. “But eventually, I evolved. I came to realize that gay people are the same as people like me, just attracted to different people. They’re like me – they get angry, they get sad, they’re just the same as any other human being.”
As a City Council member in Clarkston, Georgia, Councilman Eyasu is proud to serve and support his entire community, including his LGBTQ neighbors.
“You don’t have to agree with someone to support their rights,” Awet said. “It’s not conservative or liberal to support LGBTQ rights. It’s just the right thing to do.”
Awet identifies as a conservative, and he is part of the growing majority of conservatives who support protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. Increasingly, conservatives are speaking out on their belief that every American should have the freedom to work hard, earn a decent living, and be able to provide for their families. Those aren’t just conservative values – they are American values, and working toward the day when no one faces discrimination because of who they are or who they love makes the country stronger.
Awet is living these values by being a part of Conservatives Against Discrimination, a program of Freedom for All Americans dedicated to elevating the voices of conservative Americans who know that LGBTQ Americans should be free from discrimination.
Awet was raised Roman Catholic in Eritrea, in East Africa. Though he has always been a deep believer in human rights, he was also taught from an early age that his religion precluded him from supporting LGBTQ people and their freedoms. Awet said he didn’t know any out LGBTQ people in his home country – the community is essentially invisible because of the anti-LGBTQ hostility evident across the country.
Awet believes that we all have a role to play in protecting each other’s freedom. His experience as an African-American immigrant has only strengthened that conviction.
“I strongly believe in gay rights and human rights,” he said. “You should never tell people who to love or who to marry or how to love. Discriminating against one group for any reason is discrimination against everyone.”
As the father of four children, Awet felt that it was important to serve the community in which he and his wife have raised their family. In 2015, he ran for Clarkston City Council, was elected, and has served as a Councilmember ever since.
“It’s fulfilling to serve a diverse community,” he said. “Serving on City Council makes me feel like I am really a part of the community. Not just in the community, not just living in the community. But really being a part of it.”
Councilman Awet Eyasu is proud to call Clarkston, Georgia home. The America he believes in is a place of opportunity and freedom, where people are judged not because of who they are, but by what they do.