Barack Obama and Joe Biden took part Friday in a virtual Gay Pride Month celebration, appearing on the Logo cable channel to commemorate Stonewall Day. They were joined by prominent A-list celebrities including Taylor Swift, Ellen DeGeneres, George Takei, and Katy Perry.
Taylor Swift noted that her recent census form lacked a category for transgender people. “That erasure was so upsetting to me — the erasure of transgender and non-binary people,” she said.
Joe Biden, who appeared alongside his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, delivered a brief address in which he mentioned the Supreme Court’s recent 6-3 decision that redefined the 1964 workplace sex discrimination law to cover transgender people.
“You know, Pride is particularly poignant this year,” the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said. “Even as the LGBTQ+ rights continue to be attacked, the Supreme Court has affirmed protections for the LGBTQ+ people against unemployment discrimination. Even as the lives of trans individuals, especially black trans women, are under threat, we’re reminded that Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera helped bring life to the movement.”
“Against the backdrop of the pandemic and historic protests against systematic injustice and racism, we are reminded of those courageous individuals who first marched decades ago and renewed our hope.”
Sylvia Rivera’s role in the Stonewall riots of 1969 has been contested by some historians who say the activist wasn’t near the West Village bar at the time of the historic uprising.
Barack Obama appeared in a separate segment in which the former president encouraged people to protest as a way of illuminating “injustice.” He also noted that the Stonewall riots paved the way for gay marriage, which the Supreme Court made legal five years ago.
As a presidential candidate, Obama was opposed to gay marriage, saying in 2008 “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage.” As president, Obama later changed his view on the controversial topic, saying that he was in favor of it.
“The struggle and triumph for LGBTQ rights shows how protest and politics go hand in hand, how we’ve got to both shine a light on injustice and translate those aspirations into specific laws and institutional practices,” he said Friday.
“Progress doesn’t happen on its own. It happens because we stand up.”
Taylor Swift focused her address on transgender people.
“We still have so far to go in terms of equality and protections for LGBTQ people and people in the trans community,” the pop star said.
“I got my census the other day, and there were two choices for gender — there was male and female. And that erasure was so upsetting to me — the erasure of transgender and non-binary people. And when you don’t collect information on a group of people, that means that you have every excuse in the world not to support them. When you don’t collect data on a community, that’s a really, really brutal way of dismissing them.”
She concluded: “We need to make sure we elect people who care about all communities.”