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Kamala Harris hosts Pride Month reception honoring LGBTQ+ lives and the progress made

Kamala Harris 2024 pride month reception VP home
Polly Irungu/The White House; Yash Mori/The White House

A who’s who of LGBTQ+ leaders, activists, influencers, and celebrities showed up to celebrate the community and to remember those lost to violence.

Cwnewser

On Wednesday evening, Vice PresidentKamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff hosted a vibrant Pride Month reception at the Naval Observatory where a message was clear: While progress has been made, there are still actors looking to take back LGBTQ+ rights.

The event fell eight years after the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. The shooting, which occurred on June 12, 2016, claimed 49 lives and injured 53 others. It remains one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history and a painful reminder of the threats the LGBTQ+ community faces.

Kamala Harris 2024 pride month reception VP homePolly Irungu/The White House

Brandon Wolf, a survivor of Pulse and national press secretary for HRC, introduced the vice president and took a moment to honor the lives lost in the attack. “Eight years ago today, a gunman filled with hate and armed with a weapon of war ripped through my neighborhood bar Pulse nightclub, just a few feet from where I was washing my hands,” Wolf said. “Vice President Harris is that leader who has always chosen to stand up for us.”

In her speech, Harris emphasized the importance of coalition-building in the face of rising attacks against the community.

“We talked about whether we would have this Pride celebration on the...day that we recognize the Pulse [shooting], and a number of folks said yes, because it is important that every day we remember the struggle, but we also not allow anyone or anything to strip us of our joy,” Harris said.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation and GIFFORDS supported the event. The space was adorned with colorful decorations, and guests were treated to refreshments andPride-themed cocktails. Drag performer and RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Nymphia Wind emceed the event.

HRC president Kelley Robinson took to the stage before the vice president, praising Harris’s leadership.

Kamala Harris 2024 pride month reception VP homePolly Irungu/The White House

“Madam Vice President, you are quite literally our ancestors’ wildest dreams,” Robinson said. “As a Black queer woman, I know my life is possible because of leaders like you. Your refusal to defend Prop 8, your push for the Equality Act, and your leadership of the most pro-equality administration in history have been transformative.”

Emma Brown, executive director of GIFFORDS, a group advocating for gun-control measures since the 2011 shooting of former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, also spoke at the event. “Vice President Harris and the Second Gentleman have graciously opened their home to us tonight, highlighting their unwavering commitment to our rights and freedoms,” Brown said. “This administration is the most pro-LGBTQI+ and pro-gun safety in history, tirelessly working to ensure our communities can live without fear.”

The reception included notable LGBTQ+ guests such as actress Raven, drag performer Plastique Tiara, Chasten Buttigieg, Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness, Jai Rodriguez of the original Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Politico’s White House correspondent and incoming White House Correspondents’ Association president Eugene Daniels, and George Washington University’s president Ellen Granberg. Several LGBTQ+ social media influencers, business leaders, and activists were also present, as was Jim Obergefell, whose Supreme Court case ushered inmarriage equality in the United States. Will Rollins, a gay former federal prosecutor and California Democratic candidate for Congress, was also spotted. Many Biden-Harris administration staffers, who are LGBTQ+, were also in attendance. Guests left with Pride-themed tumblers engraved with the vice president’s seal.

Award-winning actor and singer Billy Porter performed his song “Audacity” from his album Black Mona Lisa, dedicating the performance to his late mother. “She taught me how to have courage. She taught me how to be audacious,” Porter said.

PresidentJoe Biden will also host a Pride Month celebration for invited guests on the South Lawn of the White House on June 26, before traveling to Atlanta the following day for a CNN debate against Donald Trump. On June 28, Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will attend an LGBTQ+ fundraiser in New York City.

Kamala Harris 2024 pride month reception VP homePolly Irungu/The White House

Harris’s engagement with the LGBTQ+ community is longstanding. Last year,she also hosted a Pride reception at the Naval Observatory, introduced by Sam Charney, a young LGBTQ+ activist fromColorado. She alsovisited the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan, the iconic landmark in LGBTQ+ history. In June 2022, shehosted a Pride reception introduced byKris Perry and Sandy Stier, a lesbian couple that she married, on their ninth wedding anniversary and made a surprise appearance at D.C. Pride Fest, celebrating progress in LGBTQ+ rights.

Earlier this year,Harris marked the 20th anniversary of officiating some of the first same-sex marriages in the country. On Valentine’s Day weekend in 2004, as the district attorney of San Francisco, she performed the marriages in defiance of legal restrictions, a pivotal moment in the fight for marriage equality.

Harris underscored the necessity of remembering the struggles and sacrifices of the LGBTQ+ community while persistently fighting for equality and justice in the face ofRepublican attacks and a looming election. She also highlighted the interconnectedness of various civil rights movements and the importance of solidarity and reiterated that the fight for LGBTQ+ rights embodies the fundamental values of freedom and dignity for all.

Harris also spoke passionately about the ongoing attacks on transgender people, stressing the need to support and protect this vulnerable community. She emphasized that the fight for transgender rights is a fight for the fundamental human rights of all individuals.

“Our fight is not against something but for something. For the freedom to be who you are, for the right to love who you love, and for the ability to live without fear,” Harris said. “Together, we will continue to push forward and ensure that joy and pride prevail.”

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Christopher Wiggins

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).
Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).