PHOTOS: Vice President Kamala Harris Hosts LGBTQ+ Pride Event with Human Rights Campaign Foundation & GIFFORDS

by Cullen Peele

Celebratory reception also memorialized lives lost in the Pulse Nightclub massacre eight years ago as Vice President Harris, HRC President Kelley Robinson, and GIFFORDS Executive Director Emma Brown called attention to what’s at stake for LGBTQ+ rights and gun safety

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Yesterday evening, Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff hosted a Pride month reception in partnership with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRCF) and GIFFORDS. Taking place at the Vice President’s Washington residence, the event featured HRC President Kelley Robinson, GIFFORDS’ Executive Director Emma Brown, and performances by Grammy, Emmy, and 2x Tony Award winner Billy Porter and winner of season 16 of RuPaul’s Drag Race Nymphia Wind. The occasion coincided with the eight-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, the deadliest attack on LGBTQ+ Americans to date. During the program, HRC National Press Secretary and Pulse survivor Brandon Wolf honored the friends he lost before introducing the Vice President.

Access photos from the event, via AP here.

In her remarks, Vice President Harris honored those lost at Pulse, spoke to her long career advancing equality and civil rights, addressed the unprecedented attacks on LGBTQI+ rights, and how it is up to every generation to fight to protect hard-fought, hard-won freedoms.

“Every year that we celebrate Pride, we must also remember all of what is at stake and recommit to fighting for the promise of America, which is a promise of freedom and equality and justice.”

The Vice President also reminded attendees that “when we fight, we win” and that our fight is not “against something, it is for something.” Using a metaphor to a relay race, she went on to mention LGBTQ+ greats such as Harvey Milk and Jim Oberegefell and the fact that they have handed “the baton” to the present generation of activists to carry the movement forward in the race for equality.

HRC President Kelley Robinson called attention to the resiliency of the LGBTQ+ community, especially in the midst of oppression and in the aftermath of violence in queer spaces. Despite these setbacks, she stated, members and allies of the community have been successful in showing their strength and rejecting the anti-equality agenda.

“Today, as we mark eight years since the tragic attack at Pulse,we know the attacks on the LGBTQ+ community are real and relentless,” said Robinson. “But listen up, we are strong, we are resilient; the LGBTQ+ community is powerful. So, this pride, let us celebrate our community, let us rally our allies like Vice President Harris, and recommit to the fight. For freedom, liberation, and joy, without exception.”

GIFFORDS Executive Director Emma Brown remembered the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting and highlighted the Biden-Harris administration's historic accomplishments to reduce gun violence and save lives.

"Tonight we celebrate, and we also remember. The truth is that Pride has always been about both of those things. It’s about resilience and joy and possibility. It’s also about a community facing violence and hate and loss but finding a way to live and celebrate our lives, all the same," said Brown. "President Biden and Vice President Harris lead the strongest gun safety administration and pro-LGBTQ administration in history. They are fighting from morning until night to keep Americans safe and restore critical freedoms."

“For decades, [Vice President Harris] has been a champion for LGBTQ+ people, fearlessly defending our right to love and live without fear,” said HRC’s Brandon Wolf. “And her work to combat gun violence, is saving lives. Put simply: VP Harris shows up for us. And when I think of a world that my best friends would be proud of, it’s the one she’s been working to build for her entire career.”

Other guests at the event included U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Adm. Rachel Levine, Chasten Buttigieg, Jim Obergefell, Dyllón Burnside, U.S. Reps. Mark Takano and Robert Garcia, Meredith and Brooks Marks, Kevin McHale, Raven Symoné, Jonathan Van Ness,Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, Plastique Tiara, Lee Daniels, NCLR Executive Director Imani Rupert Gordon, Executive Director of A4TE Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, NBJC CEO/Executive Director Dr. David Johns, Charlotte Clymer, Anthony Rapp, Dyllon Burnside, David Collins, and leadership from national and state LGBTQ+ orgaizations, and more.

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