From fighting against DADT to fighting for MAGA.
Iraq war veteran and proud gay conservative Rob Smith was one of the invited guest speakers at Turning Point USA’s Teen Student Action Summit last week, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington, D.C.
The conference was a four-day affair organized by the nonprofit organization which, according to its website, aims to “identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government.”
The self-proclaimed “America’s favorite black gay Republican” joined a list of some of the most powerful anti-LGBTQ voices in Washington, including Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Sen. Marsha Blackbrn (R-Tenn.), and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).
According to the Washington Blade, Smith used the opportunity to generate support for four more years of a Trump White House — while using his sexual orientation as a recruiting tool.
“I don’t like the fact that I lost all my gay friends in New York City when I came out as a conservative,” he told the paper. “I don’t like the fact that I lost the rest of my gay friends when I came out as a Trump supporter. I don’t like it. It doesn’t make me feel good, you know, but I can’t tell these kids not to stand up for what they believe and not practice what I preach.”
In 2010, Smith was arrested at the White House for protesting against “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” a now-repealed law barring lesbian, gay and bisexual service members from serving openly in the armed forces – transgender individuals have seen their rights revoked after a policy enacted by the Trump administration.
He was later a guest of President Barack Obama at the ceremony that repealed the law.
But the five-year Army veteran changed his ideological course and joined the Republican party after a horrifying night in June 2016 when 49 people were killed at Pulse, a gay night club in Orlando, he told Newsweek in 2018.
Since then, his journey to “come out as a conservative” has proven more difficult than coming out as a gay man.
Now, the outspoken conservative uses his voice as “a proud gay man that has LEFT the LGBT Cult of leftist insanity" to advocate for more young people to join the conservative movement.
On Tuesday, the “strong supporter of President Trump” wrote an op-ed for Fox News justifying the president’s recent attacks on Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) and his comments on Baltimore, when he called the city “very dangerous & filthy place” where “no human being would want to live.”
“Trump is delivering for African-Americans,” he wrote.
“Many people have taken the president’s tweets and subsequent comments as an insult to the citizens of Baltimore — a city with a population that is 63% black,” he continued. “I can understand that perception, but I don’t believe that was the president’s point.”
Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Muri Assunção has called Manhattan home since 1995. Muri joined the Daily News as a breaking news reporter in 2019, covering the LGBTQ universe and beyond. He wishes he could use the word “fierce” in every story he writes.