Former President Barack Obama appeared at Pride Live’s Stonewall Day, an annual celebration in remembrance of the 1969 Stonewall riots. This year, the event went virtual and raised funds for LGBTQ+ advocacy groups affected by Covid-19.
Obama delivered a speech via video message, as did his former Vice President and current presidential hopeful, Joe Biden.
The former president began by acknowledging all the progress that has been made in the 51 years since the Stonewall riots, including two huge victories in recent memory: marriage equality and nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ employees.
“All that progress is worth celebrating and reflecting on,” Obama said. “The struggle and triumph for LGBTQ rights shows how protests and politics go hand in hand, how we’ve got to both shine a light on injustice and translate those aspirations into specific laws and institutional practices.”
He continued, “So whether we’re fighting to protect a patient from discrimination in the healthcare 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 been sweeping the country, I hope you know that your voice can make an enormous difference.”
“Progress doesn’t happen on its own,” Obama added. “It happens because we stand up, speak out, and demand change.”
He concluded by urging viewers to continue protesting safely and register to vote, saying, “If we all do our part in our time, I believe that five years or 50 years from now, folks might gather to commemorate the victories that we all achieved beginning right now.”
Other LGBTQ+ celebrities and advocates were also on the roster, including Hayley Kiyoko, Ellen DeGeneres, Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift, Kesha, and Katy Perry.
Several organizations will receive funds from the Stonewall Day fundraiser, including Ally Coalition, Brave Space Alliance, TransLatina Coalition, and Trans Lifeline.