Conservative activist coming out

By Todd A. Heywood

Capitol Correspondent

WASHINGTON, D.C. - An 18-year-old leader of Young Americans for Freedom and a conservative campaign operative is coming out of the closet.

Tyler Whitney, the immediate past chair of Western Michigan University YAF, the chair of the Michigan Teenage Republicans, or TARs, and the current webmaster for the Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado) for President website, has been telling other conservative activists for about a month of his coming out journey.

"Yes I am aware of that," said Joanna Varnavas when asked if she knew Whitney was coming out of the closet. "He told me about a month ago."

She said he confirmed it again last week in a text message exchange.

Varnavas was the spokesperson for Michigan State University Young Americans for Freedom until November, 2006 when she resigned because of the hate-speech of the group. The Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project later listed the group as a hate group.

Other conservatives have confirmed Whitney has told them he is gay, but would not go on the record.

Whitney, who has relocated permanently to Washington D.C., also works at the conservative Leadership Council in Virginia.

Whitney's candidate, Rep. Tancredo, has a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign, which means he has never voted in favor of any pro-LBGT legislation. In addition, the long-shot presidential candidacy is mired with allegations of support from white supremacy organizations, like the National Alliance, as well as endorsements from David Duke. Tancredo is attempting to ride to the presidency on a wave of anti-immigration campaign promises including English only balloting, and deportation of every single illegal alien in America. He has also called for a "time-out" on legal immigration into the U.S..

In addition to his ties to Tancredo, Whitney is closely associated with Kyle Bristow, the leader of the Young Americans for Freedom MSU chapter, now officially listed as a hate group. Bristow has opined that if he had a gay son he would kill him, and that homosexuals should be in prison.

Whitney is also pictured in a Nov. 20 protest holding a sign which reads "Go back in the closet." The protest was against a proposed comprehensive human rights ordinance in the city of Lansing, an ordinance that was later adopted by a unanimous vote of the City Council.

The Leadership Institute, for which Whitney works, supports conservative college and high school groups around the country and provides nonpartisan campaign training. It has provided funds to Whitney, who used them to publish a conservative newspaper at East Lansing High School in 2005, as well as to YAF chapters at MSU and CMU.

Whitney has declined an interview with BTL, citing his "privacy."

BTL has been aware of Whitney's coming out for about 6 weeks, but refrained from reporting about it until the Conservative Dossier blog reported it. Bay City conservative Joe Sylvester runs the blog. Last week, Sylvester posted an update on young conservative leaders on his blog. The post included the following statement outing Whitney:

"Tyler Whitney is also working in DC on a presidential campaign. The brash young paleo-libertarian will be spending his weekend with gay conservatives and libertarians in Dupont Circle for the City's Gay Pride Festivities. Tyler is said to have relocated to DC permanently."

In a request for comment on this post, Sylvester wrote, "If Tyler told you that I am making it up, that is my story too. I think that how you report this will decide if you get any more stories like this. Gay conservatives should not be afraid of you. That is my only concern. If the purpose is to chastise him, I have nothing to say to you."

Team Tancredo Senior Advisor Bay Buchanan told BTL, "A person's sexual preference is a personal matter and has nothing to do with the campaign."


  • Latest News

Enter To Win

Enter contests to win great prizes like CDs, DVDs, concert tickets and more

Special Section: Pride Guide
Lake Effect

Hot off Season 7 of the LOGO channel's "Ru Paul's Drag Race" phenomenon, Darienne Lake of Season 6 spoke with Between the Lines about her upcoming hosting gig at Motor City Pride June 6.

View More Pride Guide
This Week's Issue

Download or view this week's print issue today!