Barack Obama Has a Powerful Message for LGBTQ Americans

"Progress doesn't happen on its own."

While the Trump administration neglected to issue a Pride Month statement yet again, former President Barack Obama is making his support of the queer community loud and clear.

The 44th President of the United States teamed up with Pride Live to issue a heartfelt video message to LGBTQ Americans for Stonewall Day, the group's third annual Pride event. Given the COVID-19 crisis, this year's Stonewall Day is a virtual benefit for four LGBTQ advocacy groups facing financial hardships amid the pandemic.

Pride Live

Obama opened his remarks with a nod to the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, widely recognized as a watershed moment in the modern fight for queer rights. That fateful rebellion against a police raid of a New York City gay bar paved the way for more recent victories, like marriage equality and federal nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ workers.

"All that progress is worth celebrating and reflecting on," the former president said. "The struggle and triumph for LGBTQ rights shows how protest and politics go hand in hand—how we have to both shine a light on injustice and translate those aspirations into specific laws and institutional practices."

Alex Wong/Getty Images

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - MARCH 23: U.S. President Barack Obama waves after he spoke during the SelectUSA Investment Summit March 23, 2015 in National Harbor, Maryland. The summit brought together investors from around the world to showcase the diversity of investment opportunities available in the U.S. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

He went on to reference the ongoing protests against systemic racism and police brutality nationwide, which began four weeks ago after the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by Minneapolis police.

"Whether we're fighting to protect a patient from discrimination in the health-care system, or to combat violence against the LGBTQ community, particularly trans women of color, or to link arms with the causes of racial and social justice that have swept the country, I hope you know that your voice can make an enormous difference," Obama added. "I hope you all understand what Edie Windsor and Harvey Milk and Bayard Rustin all knew: that progress doesn't happen on its own. It happens because we stand up, speak out, and demand change."

Watch Obama's full message below, and tune into the rest of the Stonewall Day livestream on Logo's YouTube and Facebook from 12:45–3pm this Friday, June 26.