Kevin Wilshaw doesn’t just have a Jewish heritage, he’s also gay. Complicating things, Wilshaw was a leader in the National Front, a neo-Nazi party operating in the UK. Admitting to having still been active with the violent neo-Nazi movement earlier this year, Wilshaw told Britain’s Channel 4 News that “he is leaving the movement – at the same time publicly coming out as gay.”
Wilshaw joined the National Front when he was eighteen and immediately found comradery, albeit a comradery that came with the price of hiding aspects of himself from his new friends.
Coming from a strict family with an abusive far-right father and a mother who was half Jewish, the ex-Nazi told Channel 4 that he began to be attracted to Nazism at around the age of eleven. A loner at school, Wilshaw believed that “getting involved in that kind of thing would be comradeship. Even though you end up being a group of people that through their own extreme views are cut off from society, you do have a sense of comradeship in that you’re a member of a group that’s being attacked by other people.”
Wilshaw admitted to Channel 4 that:
You have other members leading National Front who are overtly gay. And nobody could see the contradiction of it that you have an overtly gay person leading a homophobic organisation, makes no sense. Then you have someone like Nicky Crane, one of the hardest people who would be gay. Even when people found out, they’d rationalise it, ‘He’s not really gay’ or ‘gay and ok’.
During his time as a Nazi, Wilshaw would occasionally suffer some of the same treatment from his supposed friends because he was gay that he had violently poured out on others. This contradiction, along with his Jewish heritage, began to change his perspective. “It’s a terribly selfish thing to say but it’s true, I saw people being abused, shouted at, spat at in the street – it’s not until it’s directed at you that you suddenly realise that what you’re doing is wrong,” Wilshaw admitted.
When asked about violent actions that he may have committed, Wilshaw equivocated:
He said he had hurt people, “but not unprovoked, in defence. In a by-election in Leeds I smashed a chair over someone’s head.”
But he denied ever having approached minorities and assaulted them. “I’d never do that, but I have seen incidents where people were singled out because they were black by a group of people. It turned my stomach, I rejected that, I pushed it to the back of my mind.”
Mr Wilshaw was arrested for vandalising a mosque in Aylesbury in the early 1990s – and in March this year he was arrested for online race hate offences.
The pain and remorse is evident in Wilshaw as he flatly states, “I want to do some damage as well, not to ordinary people but the people who are propagating this kind of rubbish – want to hurt them, show what it’s like for those who are living a lie and be on the receiving end of this type of propaganda, I want to hurt them.”