Rod Snyder said he believes people are more willing to talk about their sexuality today.
"Think back 10 or 15 years ago. The entire situation was so different. A lot of people could say they didn't know a gay person, or didn't think they did," he said.
"Today, people have become more honest and willing to talk. It affects so many people and so many families personally. That is what is changing things."
Snyder praised public and political figures for supporting gay rights and marriage equality.
"Since Barack Obama's statement over a year ago, I think people are more comfortable embracing gay rights. It is important for public figures to do that, but still more important for people to tell their own personal stories."
Snyder believes churches and religious groups "may be the last frontier for really honest discussions about this topic."
"I grew up in a very conservative church. My Christianity has been very important to me for my whole life.
"With certain interpretations of Scripture and certain theological backgrounds, there are a lot of people who still have a hard time accepting gay people," Snyder said.
"People of faith are also gay. It is not something that we choose. I think we are making more progress than ever, but I think it will still take time.
"But I expect to be very active in West Virginia politics, very active in supporting West Virginia Democrats," Snyder said.
Snyder also plans to work with Fairness West Virginia, a group advocating LGBT rights and equality.
"I still live in Jefferson County and take the train into Washington every day. I live on the farm I grew up on," he said. "My roots are very strong in this state, and I am not going anywhere."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.