August 29, 2012 at 6:44 am EDT | by Chris Johnson
RNC 2012: ‘Homocon’ party strikes different tone at GOP convention

GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia (Blade photo by Michael Key)

TAMPA, Fla. — A party hosted on Tuesday night by a national gay conservative group struck a different tone than other LGBT events during the Republican National Convention as male dancers performed onstage and calls for equal rights were brushed to the side.

GOProud hosted its annual “Homocon” party for gay conservatives at The Honey Pot, drawing not only gay Republicans attending the convention, but also reporters and others seeking a break after the day’s official events concluded.

Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of GOProud, emphasized during his remarks that even gay voters see the economy as the No. 1 issue, although activists would have others think LGBT rights are their priority.

“Marriage is important, but before you get married you have to get a date, and you can’t get a date without a job,” LaSalvia said.

Muscled bartenders wearing black T-shirts that read, “Freedom is Fabulous: GOProud,” served cocktails to attendees. The dancers onstage wore sleeveless versions of the same shirts. Songs that blared on the speakers included LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” and Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.”

Chris Barron, chief strategist at GOProud, dedicated a significant portion of his remarks to the late Andrew Breitbart, a controversial conservative pundit who — in addition to serving on GOProud’s advisory council — played a role in the resignations of Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod and former Rep. Anthony Weiner. Breitbart died in March of heart failure.

“For most of my life in politics, I was constantly told, ‘You can’t say that. You can’t do that. You might offend someone. What will people think?'” Barron said. “And, of course, my favorite: ‘That’s just not the way we do things.’ Well then, along came Andrew Breitbart. Brietbart did it his way.”

During his remarks, LaSalvia said Homocon drew more attendees than other gay events at any Republican convention and noted that GOProud is the only national gay organization to endorse Mitt Romney for president — thinly veiled digs at the Log Cabin Republicans, which is hosting events in Tampa this week and hasn’t yet announced an endorsement decision. Barron later told the Washington Blade that “almost 1,000” people attended the party, although the number inside seemed smaller.

Richard Grenell, a gay former Bush administration official at the United Nations and briefly a foreign policy spokesperson for the Romney campaign, told the Blade at the event he thinks the GOProud event wasn’t intended to serve a political purpose because of the many kinds of people it attracted.

“I don’t think it’s really political in that there are a lot of reporters here, there are a lot of Republican activists here, and there are a lot of young people,” Grenell said. “It’s clearly the future of the Republican Party.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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