A long time ago in a land not too far away the term “alt-right” was not a curse nor a hate group. It was something I was proud to identify with. Somewhere between June 2015 and now, the alt-right has gone off the deep end and I’m not afraid to say it. In the midst of this destruction, I am left without a way to describe my ideology in less than a paragraph. So help me out yall, 4chan, r/the_donald, grass roots trump organisations, what happened?

In 2010 Richard Spencer coined the term to refer to his hateful white nationalist ideology, it didn’t take hold. His site was shut down in 2013 and that word was not popularized until we took it for its literal definition. October 2015 I joined the Donald subreddit, what I consider to be the heart of the alt-right. At the time it only had about 38,000 subscribers, 1/10th of its current crowd. A platform for free speech and anonymity helped make Reddit the perfect place to voice your support for Trump and this subreddit was taking full advantage. The population was a mixed bag: lifelong democrats, first-time voters, first generation Americans, immigrants, and people who were eligible but had never voted before made the spotlight. I was the first time voter and like most millennials there I was concerned about the rising debt more than anything, and I didn’t like the social stances of the republican party. The group as a whole was very libertarian, economically conservative, and socially liberal. We believed in personal responsibility, individual freedom, state’s rights, and a desire for every man woman and child to have the ability to move up in the world and achieve their goals. “alt-right” was literally interpreted as alternative right, alternative to the queer bashing, anti-women, racist far-right wing we were used to seeing in the media. One of the most profound indicators of this was the group’s agreement with Trump when he defended planned parenthood at a republican debate.

We had our facts together but I’m completely willing to admit that I supported him out of awe and emotion. He broke the rules for republicans, his position on planned parenthood shook the entire room but he didn’t back down. At rally’s and speeches, he conveyed a genuine love of country and desire to give back and that was what really drove our votes. Maybe it was the protesters’ violence, the vitriol people received at work or school, or the media’s blatant disregard for people like me who just love this country and want the best for everyone, but slowly this group was changing. It went from loving and open to hateful and rude. Memes made to joke around and convey our message turned into weapons of war against the “snowflakes” and “libtards”.

Around the time he became the republican nominee things started to take a turn for the worst. We fought fire with fire, and everyone came out burned. Richard spencer started to take hold. Our desire for open discussion and free speech was warped by white supremacists into support of eliminating moral boundaries in conversation. The shift was from this slightly right leaning libertarian group to a far-right nationalist ideology that skated the line of open prejudice. It was horrifying but not all lost. I still don’t know how this infiltrated such an ambitious crowd with great intentions, but then again I don’t understand how Antifa can destroy businesses and hit people in the name of ending fascism. People like me are hesitant now to identify with “alt right” and we aren’t sure where we belong. I’m still a Trump supporter for sure, but libertarian is such a broad term, so i can’t identify with it either.

Dear “alt-right” either decide you’re all white nationalists or give us our name back. We don’t like white identity politics, or your weekly boycotts, nor do we care for your self-fulfilling buzzwords or blind prejudice. We would like our libertarian group back where smoking pot, and being gay, and speaking out against the government is acceptable and advocated. Stop putting Nazi symbols next to Pepe, stop spamming Leslie Jones and Amy Schumer, stop trolling random people with your anonymous twitter accounts, get over yourselves and give us our group back. I’m so tired of having to read a novel to explain where I stand on the political spectrum. Did you just see the media call the “alt right” Nazis and decide that if you couldn’t escape the stigma you’d just embrace it? Calling myself KBG agent Abby was fun until you started praising Putin as another one of your deities. Give it back or explain it because I and those like me are incredibly irritated and confused.