This Pride Month, the Department recognized employees who are part of the LGBTQI+ community, embassies and consulates raised pride and progress flags, and officials around the world participated in virtual and in person pride events. This Pride Month, we recognize the perseverance of those who continue to push for equal rights for all LGBTQI+ people globally. The struggle to end violence, discrimination, criminalization, and stigma against LGBTQI+ persons is a global challenge that remains central to our commitment to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms.
As we recognize Pride Month, we also acknowledge the recent and past tragedies in society, and how we still have a long way to go. Pride Month is a celebration, but also a clear reminder of the challenges that LGBTQI+ persons continue to face in America and in the Department. It was not so long ago that LGBTQI+ colleagues were investigated and lost their security clearance – and their ability to work for the Department of State. Moving forward, we have the opportunity to change these challenges. At the Department and at our Missions abroad, we are committed to make the workplace and the world more inclusive.
On June 25, 2021 Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, and glifaa President Jeff Anderson delivered remarks at the Progress flag raising ceremony at the Department of State’s Harry S Truman building. This was the first time in history that the flag was raised to mark the progress made to advance the rights of LGBTQI+ people. In the coming weeks, glifaa will donate the Progress flag to the National Museum for American Diplomacy to be archived and displayed in a future exhibit.
The ceremony, which was attended by over 100 Department colleagues, was joined by the newly designated LGBTQI+ Envoy, Jessica Stern and her partner Lisa Davis. Jessica was designated on June 25 by President Biden to lead the United States’ efforts in pressing for LGBTQI+ rights around the world.
At the Department we focus on diversity and inclusion being a top priority to help advance the interest of the American people. During this Pride Month we recognized Department employees in our affinity group, glifaa, which seeks to advance diversity and equity in U.S. foreign affairs agencies and promote LGBTQI+ human rights around the world. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Department Spokesperson Ned Price, and Deputy Spokesperson Jalina Porter all participated in events that marked the progress made for LGBTQI+ inclusion and human rights. Additionally, over 130 U.S. Embassies and Consulates raised flags and lit up in rainbow colors to pursue equity. Many of which for the first time.
As President Biden said in his White House Proclamation on Pride: “Pride is both a jubilant communal celebration of visibility and a personal celebration of self-worth and dignity. We see you, we support you, and we are inspired by your courage to accept nothing less than full equality.”
About the Author: Shalom M. Konstantino currently serves as a Special Assistant in the Office of the Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson in the Bureau of Global Public Affairs at the Department of State and also as the Director of Communications for glifaa, the State Department’s LGBTQI+ Employee Affinity Group (EAG).