Tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel ignited a thunderous applause on Thursday night when he became the first openly gay man to address the Republican National Convention and tout his sexuality onstage.
“I am proud to be gay,” Thiel declared. “I am proud to be Republican. But most of all, I am proud to be an American.”
The line prompted the crowd at the GOP convention in Cleveland to roar with applause and chant, “USA, USA, USA!”
Thiel, a Silicon Valley investor who cofounded PayPal and was the first major private investor in Facebook, was an early supporter of Republican nominee Donald Trump.
The billionaire said that he didn’t “pretend to agree with every plank in our party’s platform.”
“But fake culture wars only distract us from our economic decline,” he contended. “And nobody in this race is being honest about it except Donald Trump.”
In his speech, Thiel argued that the US had become distracted with identity politics.
“When I was a kid, the great debate was about how to defeat the Soviet Union. And we won,” he said. “Now we are told that the great debate is about who gets to use which bathroom.”
Thiel also said that Americans should not accept incompetence from their government and invoked technology to illustrate his point.
“Our nuclear bases still use floppy disks. Our newest fighter jets can’t even fly in the rain. And it would be kind to say the government’s software works poorly, because much of the time it doesn’t even work at all,” he said.
Thiel added: “That is a staggering decline for the country that completed the Manhattan Project. We don’t accept such incompetence in Silicon Valley, and we must not accept it from our government.”
The Silicon Valley investor concluded his speech by contending that Trump would not be a “return to the past.”
“He’s running to lead us back to that bright future,” Thiel said. “Tonight I urge all of my fellow Americans to stand up and vote for Donald Trump.”