For 40 years, Kevin Wilshaw was a member of the National Front, a far-right and fascist group based in the United Kingdom.
Wilshaw was also a bundle of contradictions: a man who professed hatred of Jews though he was Jewish on his mother’s side, and a gay man in an organization that publicly denounces homosexuality.
Earlier this year, Wilshaw quit the ultra-right movement and told Britain’s Channel 4 News why he chose to do so.
Part of it was because he’d experienced prejudice and bigotry himself.
“On one or two occasions in the recent past, I’ve actually been the recipient of the very hatred of the people I want to belong to,” Wilshaw told Channel 4. “If you’re gay, it is acceptable in society, but with these group of people it’s not acceptable. And I found on one or two occasions when I was suspected of being gay, I was subjected to abuse.”
Wilshaw admits that his decision to leave the National Front and renounce neo-Nazism only after being the target of abuse does not reflect well on him.
“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 realize that what you’re doing is wrong,” he said. “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 organization, makes no sense.”
Wilshaw’s change of heart appears to be relatively recent. He was arrested in March for committing “online race hate offenses,” as Channel 4 notes. However, he said he feels “appallingly guilty” for his past.
“I really do feel guilty,” he said. “Not only that, this is also a barrier to me having a relationship with my own family, and I want to get rid of it, it’s too much of a weight.”
Now that he has denounced the National Front and other white supremacist movements, Wilshaw hopes to put his experience to good use.
“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,” he said. “I want to hurt them.”
You can see the complete segment below.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.