While the Trump administration neglected to issue a Pride Month statement yet again, former President Barack Obama is making his support of the queer community loud and clear.
The 44th President of the United States teamed up with Pride Live to issue a heartfelt video message to LGBTQ Americans for Stonewall Day, the group’s third annual Pride event. Given the COVID-19 crisis, this year’s Stonewall Day is a virtual benefit for four LGBTQ advocacy groups facing financial hardships amid the pandemic.
Obama opened his remarks with a nod to the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, widely recognized as a watershed moment in the modern fight for queer rights. That fateful rebellion against a police raid of a New York City gay bar paved the way for more recent victories, like marriage equality and federal nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ workers.
“All that progress is worth celebrating and reflecting on,” the former president said. “The struggle and triumph for LGBTQ rights shows how protest and politics go hand in hand—how we have to both shine a light on injustice and translate those aspirations into specific laws and institutional practices.”
He went on to reference the ongoing protests against systemic racism and police brutality nationwide, which began four weeks ago after the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by Minneapolis police.
“Whether we’re fighting to protect a patient from discrimination in the health-care system, or to combat violence against the LGBTQ community, particularly trans women of color, or to link arms with the causes of racial and social justice that have swept the country, I hope you know that your voice can make an enormous difference,” Obama added. “I hope you all understand what Edie Windsor and Harvey Milk and Bayard Rustin all knew: that progress doesn’t happen on its own. It happens because we stand up, speak out, and demand change.”