On Tuesday night, Ryan Short, a gay man living in Seattle, Washington, spoke to his dad on the phone. During the conversation, his dad, Richard Short, an 80-year-old retired war veteran living in Dallas, Texas, told his son he's still a Republican.
"We were just having one of our random catch-ups and he just casually said, 'I'm still Republican,'" Short told Insider.
Short asked if he still supported the party despite its recent rhetoric against LGBTQ people.
His dad said "yes."
The comment prompted Short to pen an email on Wednesday to dozens of family members asking them to stop voting for the GOP to support him and his other queer family members.
"Hear me clearly — you cannot vote for the GOP and continue to have a relationship with me. No exceptions. I am inviting no dialogue, and I have no interest in nuance," Short said in the email, shared with Insider.
Being 42-years-old and self-described "middle-aged," Short said he didn't want to"waste any more time on things that aren't bringing light to my life."
"The safety and peace of me, my husband, and my community is baseline, non-negotiable, and unrelated to politics," Short wrote. "To vote GOP is to divide the family."
Short told Insider: "This letter was a boundary, not a persuasion. It was not intended to persuade anyone."
After he hit send, Short posted a screenshot of the email to Twitter, along with a text conversation with a family member who initially did not respond positively.
"My letter. Sent with prideful power," Short wrote.
The post has since racked up more than 15,000 likes and more than 3,000 retweets on the platform.
Some backed Short for setting the ultimatum.
"Thank you for posting so others can use your experience as a resource," LA-based actress Sarah Greyson replied. "I'm sorry you had to say it, but it needed to be said!"
"I'm very sorry you had to send this," another user commented, saying they wanted to be a "fly on the wall" when the email is read.
But other commenters argued he went too far.
"It's sad that you're willing to discard the most important love you will ever receive like that," one wrote.
Since posting the email on Twitter, Short told Insider that people — college kids, "trans 20-somethings" — began messaging him asking if they could copy what he wrote to send to their own families. One person asked if they could put the letter in a Google Doc to share it.
"I was like, 'go for it, man, like open-source that shit! We're only free if we're all free.'"
Ultimately, Short is glad about what he did, telling Insider "I came quickly to a place of feeling very proud for putting that message out there. Especially once people said they wanted to copy and paste this to help their situation."
Short said his family isn't homophobic and he has numerous LGBTQ relatives.
"We don't have anyone in my family that doesn't like the queer family, or doesn't support issues, it's just one specific action of voting for the people that do."
"It becomes clear that defending queer and trans rights is necessary to defend our very family itself," Short said.
Short told Insider that nearly everyone on the email chain responded positively and confirmed they would no longer be voting for Republicans as he asked.
But initially, his father, Richard, said he reacted negatively and "quickly, without thinking."
Richard Short said he didn't understand what he read until after the fact when his wife and another friend explained it to him. Ultimately, he agreed to stop backing Republican candidates and he and his son reconciled.
"Family is family," Richard Short told Insider.
He said he feels happy, "sincerely and truthfully," about agreeing to his son's request.
"Being a hard head, I'm a little bit hard to get through to," Richard Short said. "But then I'm one of these people, I'll sit back, reflect and think on what I said, and I'm very quick to apologize."
Not only did Richard Short agree to never vote Republican again, but he also resigned from the Republican Club he belongs to in Collin County, Texas, he told Insider Thursday.