Friday, June 10, 2022

Happy Pride Month!

Happy Pride Month! If you're not familiar with Pride Month, it's an opportunity every year in the month of June to celebrate LGBTQI+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and other gender and sexual minority) people. It traces its history to the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York. The month traditionally features Pride Parades, community events, and celebrations of LGBTQI+ contributions past and present. Pride is typically associated with the rainbow flag, which was created by Gilbert Baker in 1978. In 2018, Daniel Quasar designed the Progress Pride flag, which combines the rainbow flag with the colors of the transgender pride flag, which was created by Monica Helms in 1999, as well as black and brown stripes to symbolize the importance of fighting transphobia and racism. The New Pride flag has increased in visibility in recent years, and it's a beautiful design.

The U.S. Embassy in Seoul marked Pride Month with a special event at the Ambassador's residence. The highlight was a private concert by LIONESSES (라이오네시스), the first openly LGBTQ K-pop band. You can read more about the four-member boy band on The Advocate or SK Pop. LIONESSES is a relatively new group that debuted in November 2021. Of the four members - Damjun (담준), Foxman, Kanghan (강한), and Lee Malrang (이말랑) - only Damjun shows his face while the others are always masked. Our event was no exception.

The group was so talented, and every member brought different skills to the stage. One was a highly trained opera singer, one was an infectiously good dancer, one was a smooth rapper, and one was a charismatic leader. Two of them had even been trained at K-pop management companies before deciding to strike out on their own as an independent boy band. It was a wonderful opportunity to come together and celebrate LGBTQI+ people through friendship and music. Do yourself a favor and listen to their debut song, "Show Me Your Pride". It's phenomenal!

Advancing LGBTQI+ rights is part of U.S. foreign policy. As Secretary Blinken said, "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 for all individuals. " Our efforts to end violations of LGBTQI+ human rights and ensure our grants and programs lift up marginalized people including gender and sexual minorities are in line with President Biden's Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons Around the World. As Biden put it, "All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love. Around the globe, including here at home, brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) activists are fighting for equal protection under the law, freedom from violence, and recognition of their fundamental human rights. The United States belongs at the forefront of this struggle — speaking out and standing strong for our most dearly held values." I'm proud to advocate for policies that protect human rights while recognizing our own country's many shortcomings. We have a lot to share and a lot to learn on these issues.

So how are you celebrating Pride Month? I hope wherever you are that you have safety and comfort and peace this month, as well as a chance to learn more about LGBTQI+ contributions and an opportunity to advocate for everyone's rights to be respected and included.

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