By: Bartholomew Bortles

Last Thursday, Collins Resident Wendell Martin came out as Republican to his friends in the Living Learning Center. He faced plenty of backlash for this stunning admission, so Flipside’s own Hartford Cunningham sat down with him to talk about it.

HC: Wendell, thank you very much for taking the time to sit down and chat with us.

WM: It’s my absolute pleasure to do so. I think it’s important to share my story so that more people may also feel comfortable stepping forward and being true to themselves.

HC: So, when did you first realize you might lean towards the right?

WM: Well, I guess, when I was 14 years old, one of my good friends found an old, dusty copy of Capital, by Karl Marx under his father’s bed. Everyone gathered around, awestruck by how gorgeous and attractive the material inside of it was. But for whatever reason, it didn’t mean anything to me. It was all just a bunch of abstract, esoteric ideology.

HC: Did you react any differently to it?

WM: No, I tried to hide my distaste for it, and I think I was successful. But it really ate away at me. At first, I thought it was just a phase, that if I tried really hard, I could squeeze those right-wing thoughts out of my head, but they just wouldn’t go away.

HC: What were those thoughts?

WM: What if an increase in welfare pushes us deeper into debt and increases the likelihood of an economic collapse? Or how can we as a nation punish people for murder, and be outraged at deaths from gun violence, but then say that some people can choose to kill their children before they’re even born?

HC: What was it like to tell your friends at Collins about this?

WM: It was difficult. I knew they would judge me, but I just couldn’t hold it in any longer. When I walked into my floor lounge wearing a sweatshirt and slowly unzipped it to display a t-shirt that said “Reagan, Bush 84”, I could feel all of the air rush out of the room. One friend kept telling me it was okay, that it was just a phase. Another told me the thought we could still be friends, but I would have to promise not to engage him in a debate. A third ran out of the room, crying. They all kept trying to bring me to their IU Dems meetings and their protests by the Sample Gates to help “convert” me to their point of view.

HC: How did this make you feel?

WM: It felt awful. Here was a part of campus that claimed diversity and acceptance as a central part of its identity, and now they were rejecting me because of what I believed. I just want them to understand that I am how I am for a reason, and I can’t help what makes sense to me.

HC: That’s a tough experience to go through, did you have anyone to support you outside of Collins?

WM: Yeah, I recently discovered a small community on campus of other people who understand the beliefs I hold. On my coming out they actually congratulated me and threw me a grand old party.

Flipside would like to thank Wendell Martin for his honesty, and courage during this challenging time.