Peter Thiel is a Silicon Valley success story. He co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook. According to his Wikipedia entry, Thiel was ranked No. 4 on the Forbes Midas List of 2014, with a net worth of $2.2 billion, and No. 246 on the Forbes 400 in 2016, with a net worth of $2.7 billion.
Born in Frankfurt, Thiel moved with his family to the United States as an infant. He spent a portion of his upbringing in Africa before returning to the U.S., where he attended San Mateo High School. He studied philosophy at Stanford University, graduating with a B.A. in 1989. He then went on to the Stanford Law School, and received his J.D. in 1992. After graduation, he worked as a judicial clerk for Judge James Larry Edmondson, a securities lawyer for Sullivan & Cromwell, a speechwriter for former-U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett and as a derivatives trader at Credit Suisse prior to founding Thiel Capital in 1996. He then co-founded PayPal in 1999, and served as chief executive officer until its sale to eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion.
He is also a Donald Trump supporter, having spoken on Trump’s behalf and the Republican National Convention. And he’s gay.
Of course because he’s a conservative, the gay community doesn’t consider him “gay” because he is not a vocal outspoken supporter of the lefty LGBTQ political agenda.
In October, The Advocate ran a commentary on Thiel saying, Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire who made news this summer for endorsing Donald Trump at the Republican convention, is a man who has sex with other men. But is he gay?
The Body Politic and many other gay publications founded during the 1970s illustrated how being gay was not just about sex but a cultural identity. LGBT people had created various forms — newspapers, plays, bookstores, churches, intellectual societies — that articulated the meaning of a distinct gay culture.
But the idea of being gay as a distinct cultural identity is now under new pressures.
By the logic of gay liberation, Thiel is an example of a man who has sex with other men, but not a gay man. Because he does not embrace the struggle of people to embrace their distinctive identity.
In other words, one might infer, Thiel can’t really be gay because he doesn’t ACT gay. (Whatever that means).
Just like LTC Allen West isn’t really “authentically black” because he doesn’t “act black.”
And who are the racists?
In any event, Peter Thiel is on the verge of ruffling a lot of feathers (or feather boas — for you authentically gay men) because he is considering running for governor of one of the most authentically gay states in the nation: California.
Politico reports, Thiel has been discussing a prospective bid with a small circle of advisers, including Rob Morrow, who has emerged as his political consigliere.
Morrow has worked at Clarium Capital, the San Francisco-based investment management firm and hedge fund that Thiel started.
Those who have been in touch with the 49-year-old entrepreneur are skeptical that he’ll enter the race. He is a deeply private figure, and California is unfriendly territory for a Republican – particularly a pro-Trump one. The president-elect won just over 30 percent of the vote there.
But they add that Thiel has conspicuously yet to rule out a bid and that those around him continue to discuss it.
Adding fuel to the speculation: Thiel raised eyebrows this week when he granted a rare interview to the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd. In the interview, he outlined his political worldview and explained his support for Trump.(At one point, Thiel said, perhaps jokingly, that he’d be “fine” with California seceding. “I think it would be good for California, good for the rest of the country. It would help Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign,” he added.)
Democrat Jim McGreevey has the distinction of being the first openly gay governor — of New Jersey — and came out in 2004 during the same speech in which he announced his resignation as governor after it was discovered he’d appointed his secret lover to the position of Homeland Security adviser, even though he lacked any experience or qualification for that specific position.
Oregon’s Democrat Kate Brown was the first openly bisexual governor. She ascended to office in 2015 after the previous governor resigned. She’s still in office and is currently married to a man. (Question: if you are in a monogamous heterosexual relationship can you still be bisexual? Or is it just a state of mind?)
It will be interesting to see how the liberal, gay community reacts if Thiel should seek office. He’s got a tough row to hoe in California in any event, but based on the reaction he’s already gotten from the LGBTQ community, it’s clear his actual sexual orientation truly means nothing. It’s all about ideology.
[Note: This article was written by Michele Hickford]