On Thursday, June 1, President Joe Biden issued an official White House proclamation recognizing June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Pride Month.
The month commemorates the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, considered by many to be the seminal moment marking the beginning of the modern-day LGBTQ rights movement.
Recognizing the movement’s historical roots, Biden hailed the resiliency of the LGBTQ community while also acknowledging the deluge of anti-LGBTQ legislation being pushed by state legislatures, with bills seeking to restrict visibility and rights being introduced in nearly every state.
“During Pride Month, we honor a movement that has grown stronger, more vibrant, and more inclusive with every passing year,” Biden said in a statement. “Pride is a celebration of generations of LGBTQI+ people, who have fought bravely to live openly and authentically. And it is a reminder that we still have generational work to do to ensure that everyone enjoys the full promise of equity, dignity, protection, and freedom.
“LGBTQI+ Americans are defiantly and unapologetically proud. Youth leaders are organizing walkouts at high schools and colleges across the country to protest discriminatory laws. LGBTQI+ young people and their parents are demonstrating unimaginable courage by testifying in State capitols in defense of their basic rights.”
Amid the host of anti-LGBTQ attacks and vitriol being spread through right-wing media outlets and online, Biden cast his administration as a willing ally to the community, hailing some of the progress that has occurred since he assumed the presidency in January 2021 while also advocating for future pro-LGBTQ legislation.
Among the accomplishments listed by Biden include an executive order he signed protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in various areas, including health care, housing, education, employment, banking, and in the criminal justice system; the signature of the Respect for Marriage Act, which ensures same-sex marriages will continue to be federally recognized, even should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn its own precedent on the issue; and his rollback of a ban on transgender military personnel.
Biden also touted an executive order to combat conversion therapy, a directive to government agencies focusing on ending homelessness among LGBTQ youth, efforts to end discrimination in foster care, and rules protecting LGBTQI Americans from discrimination in health care, at school and in sports.
He also touted a White House task force aimed at combating online harassment and abuse, and the establishment of a national suicide and crisis hotline, which has trained counselors available for LGBTQ youth experiencing depression, isolation, or suicidal ideation.
Proclaiming June as LGBTQI Month, Biden called upon Americans to “recognize the achievements of the LGBTQI+ community, to celebrate the great diversity of the American people, and to wave their flags of pride high.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also acknowledged the celebration of Pride Month, saying the LGBTQ community’s history “reminds us of the spirit of democratic protest and the principle that all persons are created equal and every individual’s full humanity should be equally respected.”
“Five decades after Stonewall, we know that inclusion of and respect for LGBTQI+ persons make our nation stronger. We also recognize the impact LGBTQI+ persons and organizations have had on some of the cornerstones of our democracy, including in pursuing truth through a free media and exercising the right to peacefully assemble,” Blinken said.
“The Department of State proudly works to promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world. We strongly oppose the “otherization” of LGBTQI+ persons to justify authoritarian power grabs and attacks on institutions of democracy globally,” he added. “Democracies are stronger when they celebrate the full rights and value of all persons, without discrimination.”
U.S. House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a statement hailing Pride Month as “a celebration of the beauty and vibrancy of our nation’s LGBTQ+ community and the many extraordinary Americans who fought against discrimination and persecution in the fight for full equality.”
“Through the tireless efforts of generations of leaders and advocates, America has made enormous progress: from combating HIV/AIDS to ending ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to securing protections against hate crimes,” Pelosi said.
Other congressional leaders also commemorated the celebration of Pride Month.
“This Pride Month is more important than ever before as the number of attacks against the LGBTQ community by MAGA extremists are increasing,” U.S. Reps. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), co-chairs of Equality PAC, the political arm of the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus, said in a statement.
“Over the past year, we have witnessed these extremists target trans people, drag queens, LGBTQ children and other essential groups that make our community strong. To fight back, it is critical that we proudly display our pride, express our love for one another, and continue our progress to create a more accepting and inclusive society for all.”
Conservatives have called for a boycott of Skittles after the candy promoted Pride Month on its packaging.
Every June, since 2020, Skittles, manufactured by candy giant Mars, Inc., has released a limited-edition pack of the fruit-flavored candy in honor of Pride Month.
The limited-edition candies are devoid of color and come in special wrappers designed by LGBTQ artists. One dollar of every sale (up to $100,000) is donated to GLAAD.
The 2023 theme for the packaging is “There’s a story in every rainbow,” and the wrappers were created by five LGBTQ identified artists — Shanée Benjamin, Mady G, Symone Salib, Bianca Xunise, and Zipeng Zhu.
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!