My politics have radically changed in the past three years. I wouldn’t say I’m more cynical, or more judgmental, but I am considerably more left-leaning and more transnational-minded than I was before.
What hasn’t changed, however, is my commitment to keeping friends who’s politics are different from my own. Partially because I tend to find other radicals who only keep other radicals for company annoying and self-righteous, and partially because one of the people I most admire in my life, my father, was a conservative Republican who kept a wide circle of friends of many political ideals. Not to mention, I recognize that my political views rose out of my own individual circumstances, and that I can learn a lot not only from people who had different lives and therefore different outlooks from me, but ones who had similar lives but still came to different conclusions.
For many people, the change in my politics has been met with encouraging words. A friend from my old university (a white gay man) who I hadn’t spoken to directly for a couple of years thanked me for sharing an article on queer objections to hyper-focus on gay marriage and military service as yardsticks for queer rights in the United States, and asked me for similar articles, since he’d never thought about the issue before.
Other people, explicitly and implicitly, haven’t been as keen on on it; I noticed several people deleted me on Facebook for innocuous things.
I realized what the difference was almost immediately. The people who are thanking me and asking me my opinion on issues or taking an interest in my new politics were people that I met in social/casual settings. Old schoolmates, people I met at parties. The ones who deleted me in a huff were people I met in political contexts.
This taught me a valuable lesson about who is valuable to offer my loyalty to and how and with whom I should cultivate my closer friendships.