President Barack Obama, already known as the first U.S. president to advocate for gay rights during an inauguration speech, just became the first Commander-In-Chief to pose for the cover of an LGBT magazine.
Gracing the cover of OUT magazine’s OUT 100 issue as “Ally of the Year” comes as no surprise — Obama is likely to go down in history as one of the most progressive presidents, if not the only one who has fought so tirelessly for LGBTQ rights. Shortly after taking office, Obama signed a bill repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. And in June, after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide, Obama delivered an emotional address to the nation, calling it a “victory for America.”
“This is the first time a sitting president has been photographed for the cover of an LGBT title, a historic moment in itself, and a statement on how much his administration has done to advance a singularly volatile issue that tarnished the reputations of both President Clinton and President Bush,” OUT’s editor-in-chief Aaron Hicklin wrote.
Obama granted the magazine an interview that highlighted his own upbringing and how it affects his perspective on equality.
“My mom instilled in me the strong belief that every person is of equal worth,” Obama told Hicklin. “At the same time, growing up as a black guy with a funny name, I was often reminded of exactly what it felt like to be on the outside. One of the reasons I got involved in politics was to help deliver on our promise that we’re all created equal, and that no one should be excluded from the American dream just because of who they are. That’s why, in the Senate, I supported repealing DOMA [the Defense of Marriage Act]. It’s why, when I ran for president the first time, I publicly asked for the support of the LGBT community, and promised that we could bring about real change for LGBT Americans.”
He also discussed how daughters Sasha and Malia have helped him recognize the generational shift in attitudes towards the LGBTQ community, urging for the end of damaging conversion therapy for young people that doesn’t allow them “to be who they are.”
“To Malia and Sasha and their friends, discrimination in any form against anyone doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t dawn on them that friends who are gay or friends’ parents who are same-sex couples should be treated differently than anyone else,” Obama said. “That’s powerful. My sense is that a lot of parents across the country aren’t going to want to sit around the dinner table and try to justify to their kids why a gay teacher or a transgender best friend isn’t quite as equal as someone else. That’s also why it’s so important to end harmful practices like conversion therapy for young people and allow them to be who they are. The next generation is spurring change not just for future generations, but for my generation, too. As president, and as a dad, that makes me proud. It makes me hopeful.”
You can read the full interview here.