The Huge LGBTQ Rights Moment During The RNC — Yes, The RNC — You Need To See
For all its scandals, antics, and conspiracy theories, this Republican National Convention has given us a few watershed moments for LGBTQ acceptance. Although the official Republican Party plank still enforces heterosexual marriage — and seeks to overturn the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide — unexpected calls for equal rights for gay, bisexual and transgender Americans have been made on the RNC stage this week in Cleveland. On Thursday night, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel made history at the RNC when he declared before the entire Republican delegation: "I am proud to be gay."
Thiel spoke just an hour before Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was slated to deliver his victorious speech. It was a coveted time slot, and Thiel was a controversial choice: an openly gay, previously self-identified libertarian who is at the top of the liberal tech world of Silicon Valley.
Thiel spoke warmly of Trump, calling him a "builder" who can repair America's economy and morale. Then, Thiel dropped his bomb.
"Of course, every American has a unique identity," Thiel said. "I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be Republican."
It was believed to be the first time an openly gay speaker has announced his or her sexual orientation on the Republican National Convention stage. No other politician or speaker has made such a claim at past conventions, or has spoken so favorably of queer identity.
But when it came to addressing the Republican Party's anti-gay and anti-transgender policies, Thiel skirted those issues, calling them "fake culture wars" that is no doubt meant as a dig at the Democratic Party and progressive activists.
"When I was a kid, the great debate was about how to defeat the Soviet Union. And we won," Thiel said. "Now we are told that the great debate is about who gets to use which bathroom."
The tech entrepreneur, who grew up in Cleveland, adopted this flippant tone for the rest of his speech, directly asking the audience "Who cares?" about LGBTQ issues. Thiel further refused to comment on the GOP plank by claiming he doesn't "pretend to agree with every plank in our party's platform."
Thiel added that these "fake culture wars only distract us from our economic decline." He relied on this idea of "distractions" throughout his speech, downplaying his queer identity and discriminatory laws targeting LGBTQ citizens to instead focus on the American economy.
"Nobody in this race is being honest about it except Donald Trump," Thiel said. "He's running to lead us back to that bright future."