Gay Billionaire Peter Thiel Addresses RNC: "Who Cares About Bathroom Bills?"

“I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican. But most of all, I am proud to be an American.”

It's the final day of the Republican National Convention and while the big speaker is Donald Trump himself, many were eager to hear what conservative gay Peter Thiel had to say.

The Paypal co-founder addressed delegates tonight as the first gay person to acknowledge their sexuality at a GOP convention.

“I am proud to be gay,” he declared. “I am proud to be a Republican. But most of all, I am proud to be an American."

But the 48-year-old Silicon Valley investor, who also was an early backer of Facebook, chided Republicans for getting involved in “fake culture wars” rather than an economy that was "broken."

Thiel called issues like North Carolina's bathroom bill “a distraction from our real problems.”

“Who cares?” he said as the Quicken Loans Arena erupted into applause. Whether he meant America shouldn't worry about harassing trans people or we shouldn't worry about protecting their rights wasn't clear.

Thiel is an outlier among LGBT Americans—someone so wealthy that they're insulated from the threat the Republicans represent to the rest of our community. He won't lose his job or his home because he's gay. If he wants a child he can use a private agency or hire a surrogate. No one would be dumb enough to turn away a billionaire's business simply because he's gay.

It makes the damage he's done tonight that much worse: No, not the fat check he surely wrote to Trump's campaign—rather the legitimacy (meager though it may be) he gives Trump as someone who represents gay interests.

So, Thiel could take the podium tonight to send a message that he supports the real estate tycoon and he’s not a scary, angry old white guy — the stereotype the Republican Party needs to overcome if it wants to attract younger, more diverse voters, the autopsy report warned.

Though not speaking directly to convention delegates, Caitlyn Jenner made the case that she is an authentic Republican who should find a home in the party. “It was easy to come out as trans. It was harder to come out as Republican,” Jenner said.

But Thiel is a more likely candidate than Jenner to be the face of the increasingly diverse Republican voter.

He is not saying exactly what he will talk about, but those close to him say he will proudly announce himself as a gay man. A proponent of gay marriage, Thiel is also expected to denounce a flurry of Republican-sponsored “bathroom bills” and fights over other cultural issues as a distraction from more important economic and foreign affairs issues.

He might also present the worldview of venture capitalists by promoting the libertarian-leaning agenda of low regulatory oversight and, The New York Times reported, perhaps score a direct line to Trump if he wins the White House that would boost the tech industry as a whole.

Whatever Thiel talks about, the speech is sure to be closely watched, whether with anticipation or trepidation.

The billionaire entrepreneur set off a firestorm of controversy after disclosing he secretly financed the $115 million Hulk Hogan lawsuit that tumbled Gawker Media.

Thiel’s support for Trump and decision to run to be a delegate for Trump in California prompted Facebook, where Thiel is a board member, to say that he is not representing the social media giant at the convention.

“He is not attending on behalf of Facebook or to represent our views,” the company said in a statement to The Washington Post.

Thiel has faced some blowback in Silicon Valley for backing Trump. The GOP nominee says he’d nominate Supreme Court justices who might overturn the decision legalizing gay marriage.

Thiel said he doesn’t agree with every part of the party’s policy platform. But he said what he calls “fake culture wars” only distract Americans from economic issues.

is in session, and while Donald Trump is the headliner, we're most interested in hearing from Peter Thiel, the billionaire tech investor. We're assuming Thiel will be speaking around 9:30 pm ET, but if we get a better sense of timing we'll update that here. Once he does start, you can follow along on the liveblog below.

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