State Department’s 1st openly gay spokesperson sends signal to the world, advocates say

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02/02/2021

Just over two decades ago, President Bill Clinton had to use a recess appointment to install the first openly gay U.S. ambassador over Republican senators’ opposition. Now, on Tuesday, the State Department’s new openly gay spokesperson will hold his first daily press briefing. That the voice of the Biden administration on the world stage, whose words will be analyzed in foreign capitals and provide direction for U.S. diplomats overseas, will be a gay man is unremarkable, which is itself a remarkable thing. It also sends a potent message to foreign LGBTQ activists, especially those fighting in countries where same-sex relationships are still criminalized. “It’s incredibly important for queer people in countries where homosexuality and queerness is a death sentence,” said Innanoshe Richard Akuson, a Nigerian LGBT rights activist and writer.

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