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Coming out in the spotlight in Christian West Virginia

Before the end of three years as president of the Young Democrats of America this weekend, Rod Snyder had one thing left to do. In a letter to the organization, he came out.

Snyder, a native of West Virginia, a Christian, and someone who’s considered a bid for Congress, made such a public statement now in the hopes he’d inspire and encourage anyone else in the same situation.

He joined The Cycle Tuesday afternoon, explaining that it took him until age 31 to first vocalize his sexuality “because of the very deep beliefs that I had and the very historical interpretations of scripture… I was so deeply in the closet I couldn't even say it myself.”

Growing up in an evangelical community in a socially conservative state like West Virginia made the process even harder. “This is a debate that we really need to have within the church,” he said. “There are so many families suffering in silence because they are in an evangelical community like I was. It’s time to bring that out in the open and say, you know what, you can be gay and a Christian at the same time.”

Although Republicans have had an easier time in recent years gathering the support of Christian corners of America, Synder helped start his organization’s Faith and Values Initiative to reach out to others trying to coincide their policy stances with their religious beliefs.

“I think the left has had a more difficult time articulating the way that people’s faith impacts their world view in the political arena. The separation of church and state is obviously very important to folks on the left, but I think it’s something we have to work much harder at.”

His Young Democrats of America presidency is ending, but Snyder isn’t shying away from future political aspirations.

“I’ve always felt like public service was the path that I would like to be on,” he said. “I’m not certainly stepping back from that now just because I’m openly gay.”

You can watch Snyder’s full interview on The Cycle in the player above.