Karine Jean-Pierre becomes first openly gay woman in history to lead White House briefing

The moment holds great significance not only for LGBTQ+ people, but also for members of the Black community.

A smiling woman with her arms folded

On Wednesday, May 26, Karine Jean-Pierre carved her name into the history books by becoming the first openly lesbian woman to lead a White House briefing. Stepping in for Jen Psaki, Biden’s current Press Secretary, the 43 year-old is also just the second Black woman ever to undertake the task. 

As she addressed reporters in the James S Brady Briefing Room, Jean-Pierre acknowledged the momentous occasion. “It’s a real honour to be standing here today,” she began. “Being behind this podium, being in this room, being in this building, is not about one person, it’s about what we do on behalf of the American people.”

She continued by recognising Biden’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, stating that “Clearly the president believes that representation matters, and I appreciate him giving me this opportunity, and it’s another reason why I think we are all so proud that this is the most diverse administration in history.”

While there are still many ongoing issues in the US for the queer community, the new administration appears to be taking significant steps in the right direction. On his first day in office, President Joe Biden instructed all branches of the federal government to investigate claims of anti-LGBTQ+ biases, and later reversed Donald Trump’s trans military ban. Furthermore, included in the administration are Dr Rachel Levine, the first transgender person to hold a Cabinet-level position, and Pete Buttigieg, the first LGBTQ+ person to lead the Department of Transportation.

Karine Jean-Pierre follows in the footsteps of Eric Schultz, who became the first openly gay person to conduct a White House briefing under the Obama administration in 2015. Wednesday’s conference, however, was not only historic for the LGBTQ+ community. Born to Haitian parents, Jean-Pierre is just the second Black woman in history to lead a presidential briefing, the first being Judy Smith who did so under George H W Bush in 1991.

It is speculated that Jean-Pierre may make history again soon, should she fill the position of Jen Psaki who plans to step down from her post next year. However, she might need to see off the challenge of another LGBTQ+ candidate first, as current spokesperson for the State Department, Ned Price, is expected to also be a contender.

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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