On a warm, muggy New York night 53 years ago, police raided the Stonewall Inn—a gay bar in Greenwich Village. Claiming that the bar had violated city liquor ordinances, the police arrested Stonewall employees and many of its patrons—most of whom identified as LGBTQI+ persons. It was not the NYPD’s first raid on gay bars in the city, nor would it be the last. But that night, LGBTQI+ Americans—led by transgender women of color—faced down police and fought back for their rights in a demonstration that lasted six days.
In commemoration of that iconic showing of American LGBTQI+ resistance all those years ago, each June, we celebrate Pride Month. Around the country, cities and communities organize parades and rallies in support of LGBTQI+ persons, recognizing their valuable contributions and joining in solidarity with their ongoing struggle against discrimination and injustice.
Pride, at its core, is about accepting and celebrating those who are different. It affirms the gay teenagers scared to come out to their friends at school, the nonbinary persons estranged from their families for living as their authentic selves, the transgender children shamed by governments and communities because of who they are. It was that spirit of acceptance that made the Stonewall Inn such a special place in the 1960s. It was a place where LGBTQI+ individuals could be embraced without having to pretend.
In too many parts of the world, including right here in the United States, LGBTQI+ people are harassed, threatened, arrested, and killed simply for who they are. They are also some of our most fearless leaders—advocates and activists who continue to make historic advances on behalf of LGBTQI+ persons. As we celebrate the beginning of Pride Month, we must listen to those who take on these difficult challenges—here at USAID and around the world.
I am pleased that, at this Agency, we are committed to making our workplace more inclusive and accessible for our colleagues and prioritizing LGBTQI+ communities in our push for more inclusive development. Our support of this work is included in the recently released “2022 Interagency Report on the Implementation of the Presidential Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons Around the World.” The report provides historic transparency on the work of USAID to advance LGBTQI+ inclusive development—work that includes strengthening local governance structures, improving community responses to gender-based violence, and providing legal aid, social protection services, and gender-affirming health care to LGBTQI+ communities all over the world.
This month, we will continue partnering with brave, trailblazing leaders driving change in their own communities, while also supporting the efforts of LGBTQI+ leaders right here at USAID—like Jay Gilliam, our Senior LGBTQI+ Coordinator. And we will continue to bring to our work the values of Pride: tolerance, acceptance, and inclusivity.