Guest Blogger

How Founding GOProud Taught Me Authenticity

Filed By Guest Blogger | June 04, 2014 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: GOProud, Jimmy LaSalvia, living honestly

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Jimmy LaSalvia is a political strategist, commentator and speaker based in Washington, DC. In 2009, Jimmy founded GOProud to represent gay conservatives and their allies; he served as its full-time executive director until 2013.

Authentic.jpgI read a great quote on Facebook this week - "Maybe the journey isn't so much about becoming anything. Maybe it's about un-becoming everything that isn't really you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place."

That really resonated with me because I've never fit in. Anywhere. I tried. I tried really hard. I tried so hard to change who I was to fit in that I ended up a miserable alcoholic by the time I was 30.

Society has all these predetermined boxes that we are all supposed to fit into. We all find ways to contort ourselves into those boxes at times. Some of us do it more often than others.

It wasn't until ten years ago, when I gave up alcohol, that I began the process of self-acceptance and started to really live my life authentically. Of course, the authenticity didn't come over night. In fact, I'm still finding it.

News came this week that the political organization that I co-founded, GOProud, closed down. I am very saddened by this news because I put so much of my life into that group, and it was the first time in my professional life that I was truly myself and true to myself.

Chris Barron and I set out to challenge conventional wisdom when we started GOProud in 2009. We had very simple goals - demonstrate that all gays aren't left-wing liberals AND all conservatives aren't anti-gay homophobes.

We were wildly successful in accomplishing our objectives. All you have to do is look at the very public engagement we did with well-known conservatives such as Ann Coulter or Andrew Breitbart, or see the nearly 1,000 people who attended our event at the RNC Convention, or countless other examples.

The secret to our success was that we always were authentic to who we were, and we thought outside-the-box. (As openly gay conservatives, there really wasn't a box for us anyway.)

We challenged stereotypes, pushed the envelope, and drove our agenda with smart and innovative strategy. We accomplished what we set out to do. We won.

I left GOProud last year and handed the reigns over to a young team that I hoped would bring fresh ideas and a new vision. It turns out that they just wanted to try to fit our outside-the-box brand into a conventional box. It didn't work, so they are closing. That's too bad.

Someone asked me recently, "What are you doing, now that you've won?" The answer is multi-faceted...and still developing.

I am working on some personal projects, consulting, writing and commentary, kicking around a book idea, and I'm looking for my next big challenge. Finding that next big challenge is proving to be a challenge in itself.

I am a free-thinker with a right-of-center point of view. I really don't fit into anyone's box or play by a predetermined set of rules. Honestly, I feel a little like Goldie Locks searching for something that is just right.

Wherever life ultimately takes me, I can guarantee that it will be on a path that I create. The most worn paths haven't ever been anything that really interests me, even though I've sometimes tried to force myself onto them.

I just know that I am going to be the most authentic me I can be in whatever it is I do in my life. My experience with GOProud taught me that it is possible to do just that - successfully.

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