(WB) President Trump may have declined to sign a Pride proclamation or host a White House Pride reception, but that didn’t stop members of the Obama administration from celebrating the occasion.
Hosted by Obama White House LGBT liaisons Gautam Raghavan and Aditi Hardikar, the celebration — called “Not the White House Pride reception” in homage to Samantha Bee’s competing event with the White House Correspondents’ Dinner — took place Saturday at the Brixton in D.C.
Among the speakers was the first openly gay Army secretary Eric Fanning, who recalled a story of meeting Edie Windor, the octogenarian plaintiff in the lawsuit against the Defense of Marriage Act, to remind attendees the Trump administration is temporary.
“I saw Edie literally two days after the election,” Fanning said, “and she — I’m paraphrasing a little bit — points up at me and says, ‘Get over it.’ She said, ‘I started voting in 1947.’ She goes, ‘We made progress and we got knocked back a little bit, but we keep fighting and we will be back.'”
Also speaking was Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to former President Obama who oversaw LGBT issues for the entire eight years of the Obama administration, who said she’s “feeling a little nostalgic over the past five months as you can imagine.”
Recalling pro-LGBT moments of the Obama administration, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, marriage equality nationwide, and the final White House Pride reception, Jarrett said the most important thing now for members of the LGBT community is to “be a citizen.”
“We cannot only focus on our issues,” Jarrett said. “We have to be our sister’s keeper. We have to be our brother’s keeper. All of our brothers, all of our sisters, and we have to sweep up and use our voice and use our effort, and this balcony is a beautiful. We’re going to take the feeling from this balcony and we’re going to go out in the streets of this great District of Columbia, where we are going to remind everybody what it means to be an American.”
Other speakers were Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality; lesbian comedian Kate Clinton; Precious Brady-Davis, activist and organizer. Stephanie Rice, musician and contestant on NBC’s “The Voice,” performed afterward.
The celebration took place on the same day the D.C. Pride Parade and days after former FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress he believed Trump urged him to discontinue the investigation into Michael Flynn — a move that was potentially obstruction of justice.
Asked by the Blade during the event if the Trump administration was what she expected, Jarrett replied, “Frankly, It was hard to know what to expect.”
“I think one of the reasons why I wanted to be here today was to say Pride month is not just about celebrating the enormous progress that we’ve made, but it’s also about recognizing we still have a lot of hard work to go, and it’s no time to let up, and we have to be as committed as ever to bending that arc of moral universe,” Jarrett added.
Jarrett cautioned “clearly, we could lose ground” and the only way to ensure progress is preserved would be solidarity with the progressive movement.
“The only way we’re not going to lose ground is if we build a big, inclusive tent and we help everybody understand why equality for the LGBTQ community is equality for us all,” Jarrett said.
— Chris Johnson, Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association.