GOProud co-founder speaks on tolerance

Audrey Menninga

In collaboration with several groups, a politician will be coming on campus Nov. 10 to dispel the myth that there is no such thing as a gay conservative.

Jimmy LaSalvia is a co-founder of GOProud, a group committed to representing gay conservatives and their allies. The group was formed a year and a half ago by between LaSalvia and Christopher Barron.

“The day we launched, we were sending out the news release in a Starbucks and running across the street to Kinkos to make copies,” LaSalvia said. “It’s that kind of start up.”

The group began to gain some fame in their first year, when they signed on as sponsors of the conservative political action conference, or CPAC.

“There were threats of boycotts and [a couple] of the anti-gay organization[s] threatened to not participate in CPAC,” LaSalvia said.

Mitch Foster, a senior residential adviser in Gant Hall, emailed LaSalvia after CPAC and asked him about the idea of coming to NMU to talk. LaSalvia agreed, but the idea didn’t get the proper support, and no action was ever carried out.

Jimmy LaSalvia is the co-founder of GOProud, an organization the represents members of the gay population who identify with conservative values. LaSalvia will be speaking Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. in 103 Jamrich Hall. // Photo courtesy of Jimmy LaSalvia

“I paid attention to (CPAC), I didn’t actually go, but I paid attention to it enough where I noticed the GOProud out there, amongst a bevy of conservative social groups,” Foster said.

The idea remained forgotten until this Fall when Foster began planning his senior project for his senior seminar class. He called LaSalvia again this year around the beginning of the school year and re-proposed the idea. They agreed on a time and turned their efforts to raising money for the event.

Foster first approached both the College Libertarians and the College Republicans on campus to help out with the event. He then went to Multicultural Education and Resource Center, which agreed to give some money for fundraising. He moved on to the provost’s office and the political science department, both of which agree to help support LaSalvia.

“I tried to bring as many different groups from different sides of an issue and different reasons why people would support him to kind of bring the broad spectrum,” Foster said.

LaSalvia is looking forward to coming on campus to talk to students.

“I think that there is a common misperception that all gay people are liberal,” LaSalvia said. “Also, there’s a misperception that all conservatives hate gay people. I think that our organization demonstrates that that’s not the case on both sides.”

LaSalvia plans to talk about the people in the GOProud organization, about himself, and his own story about being a gay conservative.  He’ll also talk about different policies and proposals, including “don’t ask, don’t tell.” His big point, something both Foster and LaSalvia wanted to discuss, was the difference between the gay right and the gay left and the different ways they try to accomplish their goals.

“I think we’ll probably go on and on for several hours that night talking about whatever anybody wants to talk about,” LaSalvia said.

The event will take place Wednesday, Nov. 10 in JXJ 103 at 6 p.m. The event is open to everyone, and Foster and LaSalvia said that this event is not just for conservatives.

“[The event] covers such a wide range of ideas, thoughts, themes, that I hope not only students and faculty and community members will come and listen to these political talks, this type of political symposium, but also they come to listen to these different ideas,” Foster said.