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Inside the implosion of GOProud, the right's most notorious pro-gay group

Inside the implosion of GOProud, the right's most notorious pro-gay group

There was a time when GOProud was the loudest gay voice on the political right. Then, a year ago, after it lost its foremost donor and couldn’t find a successor, its brand was sold off for scraps.

Reports began trickling out in the press this week that GOProud had decided to close up shop. In truth, the original organization functionally folded a year ago, The Daily Beast has learned. And the attempts to reboot GOProud are being actively mocked by the men who founded the group.

The decline of GOProud is a prime example of what happens to an organization that rises to prominence through confrontation—and never bothers to do the grunt work needed to sustain the outfit, once the outrage dies down. It was feisty and controversial—a Tea Party, of sorts, to the more establishment-minded Log Cabin Republicans. It was an organization running on a shoestring budget that elbowed its way into the conservative conversation.

They outed a Rick Perry pollster in December 2011; they endorsed Mitt Romney, who opposed same-sex marriage; they got into social-media fights with all comers; and they called conservative activist Cleta Mitchell a “bigot,” not especially helpful considering she was on a board that would decide whether they could sponsor the Conservative Political Action Conference, a longtime GOProud goal.

For many supporters of GOProud, being called a “troll” was a badge of honor. Their goal from the start was to plant a flag in the ground: There are gay conservatives, and here we are.

Others, even those sympathetic to the group, accused it of being a vanity project for its cofounders, Christopher Barron and Jimmy LaSalvia, a platform for the two to pick fights. The two split from the Log Cabin Republicans, which they viewed as too moderate, to form GOProud in 2009.

Unsurprisingly, Barron sees it differently, saying their organization was a voice on “one of the fastest-moving issues of this generation, the gay-rights fight… before GOProud, there was no conversation about gay people being part of the conservative movement.”

But after LGBT rights megadonor Paul Singer stopped funding them, the gig was up. 

Over the course of GOProud’s existence, Singer donated $570,000 to the group—representing two-thirds of its fundraising since its founding. He made his last contribution in August 2012, according to federal campaign-finance documents. It was around this time that Singer was changing his strategy: divesting in certain groups to focus on state-based gay-rights initiatives in places like New York, New Hampshire, and California.

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