The U.S. Department of State has commemorated the first ever flying of the LGBTQ Pride flag at the department’s headquarters.
The Progress Pride flag, designed by Daniel Quasar in 2018 to better represent transgender people and LGBTQ people of color, was raised over the Harry S Truman Building on June 25.
While U.S. embassies have flown the Pride flag for years — except for when the Trump administration banned them — this marks the first time that State Department headquarters has flown the flag.
“I was honored to speak today as the progress flag was raised over @StateDept headquarters for the first time, showing the flag, “demonstrating to people everywhere that the United States is committed to fighting for LGBTQI+ rights at home and abroad,” Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman said in a tweet.
I was honored to speak today as the progress flag was raised over @StateDept headquarters for the first time—demonstrating to people everywhere that the United States is committed to fighting for LGBTQI+ rights at home and abroad. #PrideMonth2021pic.twitter.com/JnMkatH0Iq
In her remarks, Sherman noted that the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage six years ago this month.
“It was a beautiful summer day much like this one. The District of Columbia and communities across the country all but exploded with joy and love,” Sherman said. “By nightfall, the White House was bathed in rainbow lights — the colors of Pride. But there was sadness too underneath the excitement that it took so long, that activists had to fight so very hard, that so many people didn’t live to see their relationships validated by the highest court in the land.
“Today’s ceremony is another joyful celebration, but it also gives us opportunity to reflect on the past and to recommit ourselves to supporting diversity, inclusion, and the rights of all people everywhere in the world.”
Sherman acknowledged the State Department’s own anti-LGBTQ history, including the “lavender scare” of the 1950s, in which Sen. Joseph McCarthy and other government leaders “claimed that gay and lesbian workers couldn’t be trusted to serve the United States and that they were of ‘dubious moral character.'”
“Across the federal government, countless public servants were investigated, punished, and oftentimes fired because of who they were and who they loved. And sadly, the State Department was especially aggressive in persecuting our own,” Sherman said.
“Our mission is to serve the interests of the United States and to promote American values around the world. Our ability to stand up for human rights, for democracy, and for justice overseas is utterly dependent on the actions we take here at home,” she continued. “As much progress as we have made as we are celebrating today, we still have work to do to guarantee equality for LGBTQI+ people in our workplaces, in our schools, at the Department of State, in our government, and in our society.”
Sherman said the State Department raised the Progress Pride flag to “signal to people everywhere that the United States is firmly committed to doing that work and to fighting for LGBTQI+ people at home and everywhere.”
“And we raise this flag in recognition as well of the countless Civil Service and Foreign Service officers, locally employed staff, contractors, even us appointees — past and present — who have worked to change the State Department, the country, and the world for the better.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is currently overseas, acknowledged the “historic moment” in a tweet.
“For the first time, [the State Department] and [LGBT+ Pride In Foreign Affairs Agencies] raise the progress flag, a symbol of the diversity and intersectionality of LGBTQI+ persons and communities around the world, at our headquarters in DC for #PrideMonth,” he wrote. “I’m truly honored to serve as Secretary during this historic moment.”
For the first time, @StateDept and @glifaa raise the progress flag, a symbol of the diversity and intersectionality of LGBTQI+ persons and communities around the world, at our headquarters in DC for #PrideMonth. I'm truly honored to serve as Secretary during this historic moment. https://t.co/3yJivnbJXS
A teenage staffer at a southwestern Wisconsin library claims a Republican congressional candidate threatened her over an LGBTQ Pride display.
Kerrigan Trautsch, a page at the Prairie du Chien Memorial Library, told the La Crosse Tribune that Derrick Van Orden, a 2022 Republican congressional candidate who previously ran in 2020, came into the library on June 17 and complained loudly about a display of LGBTQ-related books in the children's section. The display was set up as part of the library's efforts to recognize Pride month.
Trautsch, who was 17 at the time, says Van Orden was angry, and said that the books offended him. He also said that taxpayers shouldn't have to see such books.
An anti-trans campaigner was escorted by police from a Pride event in England after a unified crowd chanted "trans rights matter" at him.
Alexander Bramham was filmed walking through a Pride protest march in Manchester while wearing a t-shirt from anti-transgender campaign group LGB Alliance.
The group, which was controversially given charity status by England's Charity Commission this year, claims to campaign for the rights of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people but is predominantly known for lobbying against transgender rights.
LGB Alliance has been linked to anti-LGBTQ causes, groups, and individuals and has frequently drawn condemnation for its various stances and statements, including opposing conversion therapy bans and saying adding a "+" to LGBT "gives the green light to paraphilias like bestiality" to be included.
An Oregon couple built a large Pride flag out of plywood to show support for LGBTQ students after their local school board voted earlier this month to ban "divisive" symbols like Pride and Black Lives Matter displays in schools.
Erin and Jaybill McCarthy, of Newberg, Oregon, say they were upset by the Newberg School Board's ban on those types of displays and decided to do something about it.
Supporters of the ban, particularly social conservatives, claimed that symbols of LGBTQ Pride or Black Lives Matter banners are "political" and make white, heterosexual, and cisgender students feel excluded. Some even called the Pride flag a symbol for "deviants."
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!