GOProud dissolves amid tough climate for gay conservatives

By Josh Kruger
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jun. 4, 2014

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According to itself, conservative group GOProud is rebranding, restructuring, and renewing itself.

According to everyone else, the organization is dissolving and turning out the lights.

The much-ballyhooed LGBT-friendly organization has apparently failed to gain serious traction or support in conservative or queer circles—much to the shock of, well, very few. 

“The group confirmed it plans to kill the GOProud brand and will attempt to reorganize as a grassroots online organization with a new name,” according to The Bilerico Project, an LGBT news and opinion site.

GOProud Executive Director Matthew Bechstein says the organization is “leaving GOProud behind and re-branding the chapters.”

Practically speaking, this means that Bechstein needs to dissolve the organization and start anew. Whether or not he’ll actually find anyone willing to support his notions is another issue altogether. 

The group’s dissolution “would only be momentary and certainly not the end of our organization,” he added, which, to us, sounds a little curious.

After all, the idea of Republicans embracing minorities of any type is a bit of gambit despite what the GOP publicly affirms.

More to the point: The Republican Party is still finding serious difficulty courting minority voters, and questions swirl as to whether or not people of color or queer people are even seriously wanted in the Republican Party. Speaking with Philadelphia Weekly’s Randy LoBasso, several black Republicans cited the GOP’s hostility and tokenization of minorities as a serious hurdle for inclusion. 

“[The Republicans] want to use you,” says local black Republican activist Thermone Spence, Jr., “and once they get what they want, it’s the hell with you.” Spence, at the time, headed Philly Republicans of Color. He lamented that the GOP was “not thinking about tomorrow or the future.”

Added fellow black Republican activist Sgt. Robert Allen Mansfield: “Whenever the Republican party wants to bring out a black face to speak out against President Obama, they always bring us out like we’re dogs, like we’re mannequins … We’re put in the window. We’re window dressing.”

Here in Philadelphia, there are approximately 120,000 registered Republicans, paling in comparison to the city’s more-than 800,000 registered Democrats. Still, the GOP has ward leaders and committees just like the Democrats: They just have smaller picnics, presumably.

GOProud isn’t alone. The National Stonewall Democrats, the LGBT activist caucus of the Democratic Party, dissolved last year. Still, unlike the Republicans, the Democrats have a history of actually supporting marriage equality and anti-discrimination protections for queer people. 

Whatever its shiny new name will be, the GOP’s potential new organization won’t be walking into a friendly climate. After all, the Republican National Committee reaffirmed last year its quaint notion that gay marriage is wrong,  and just a handful of Republicans in national office have voiced support for marriage equality.

And we’d be hard-pressed to not point out this: despite RNC Chair Reince Priebus saying the GOP wants to be the party of inclusion recently, he did so at the same event headlined by “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson—the former teacher and current reality TV star who claimed that homosexuality was similar to bestiality, and that he never once saw African Americans treated poorly by whites in his entire life. 

Right-wing media also coalesced around distancing itself from GOProud back in 2011, with conservative antagonist-blogger Eric Erickson declaring flatly, “GOProud is not a conservative organization.” 

It would seem that the GOP seems to think gay people are just window dressing, too. After all, were this not the case, there might actually be a robust gay conservative movement and not just an illusory online-only curtain thrown over their anti-gay party platforms.

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