President Joe Biden celebrated Gay Pride Month, during a speech on Friday. “Pride Month represents so much. It stands for courage,” he said. “The courage of all those in previous generations and today who proudly live their truth. Stands for justice. Both the steps we’ve taken and the steps we need to take. And above all, Pride Month stands for love.”

Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay confirmed Cabinet member, joined in the celebration. “Us even being here proves how much change is possible in America,” he said. “So many lives have been changed, saved by the sustained advocacy, the moral resolve, the political courage of countless LGBTQ-plus leaders and allies, some elected, some invisible, some long gone, some in this room right now.”

In order to mark the occasion, a White House hallway was lit in rainbow colors and a candle carried during the AIDS vigil was displayed as well as a pair of sandals that belonged to Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was beaten to death in 1998. Shepard’s death inspired new hate crime laws.

On Friday, Biden also announced that he was appointing Jessica Stern as the special diplomatic envoy at the State Department for LGBTQ rights.

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Stern’s new role will involve ensuring the promotion and protection of LGBTQ rights. She plans to bring together governments, nonprofits and corporations to uphold gay and trans rights.

Friday’s celebration struck an emotional chord for many of the attendees, including Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House’s principal deputy press secretary, who tweeted her coming out story: “I’m proud to be an out Black Queer woman and I have been for quite some time. I’m happy to say, my Mother is now proud of ALL of who I am; she loves my partner and she loves being a doting grandmother to the daughter we are raising.”

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