On the heels of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ inauguration, GLAAD’s CEO and President, Sarah Kate Ellis sat down with RADIO.COM’s CHANNEL Q on Let’s Go There with Shira Lazar and Ryan Mitchell to share in the joy that this new administration has brought on. Ellis also delves into what new Biden era policies will mean for the LGBTQ+ community in the coming years.
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“I took a really big breath at 12:01 today, quite honestly,” starts Ellis as she begins to unfold what the new presidency means to her. She continues, “I don’t even know if we understand how deep the PTSD is from these past four years, while our community has been under direct attack from this last administration.”
While Sarah acknowledges the massive amount of work ahead of us she says, “I feel like we can breathe now.” The GLAAD president feels that there isn’t just a lot of “repair” to do but also a lot of “building” of new equalities for the LGBTQ+ community. Ellis calls for momentum and urges to not let complacency set in. “I think these past four years have shown us, in clear view, how fragile our rights are and how many rights we still don’t have as a community, and that is across our community for discrimination. That is for people of color within our community, the trans community, people with disabilities, it’s our entire community.”
In an attempt to find a silver lining in the past four years Ellis says that she has found that the LGBTQ+ community has really tried to find and understand the intersectionality of the community.
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The CEO plans to continue this driving energy, where people are more politically engaged and focused on LGBTQ+ intersectionality. GLAAD continues to inform the community and act as a top resource to ensure that LGBTQ+ stories and news are being heard. “We are constantly letting the community know what’s going on and what’s happening,” explains Ellis.
Alongside President Biden and Vice President Harris’ first 100 days in office, GLAAD also has a 100-day plan that coincides with the administration’s agenda. “We have a big audacious plan for the next four years, and we need people in our community and our allies supporting that plan,” Ellis elaborates.
“Four years ago… I know that the LGBTQ community was wiped off of whitehouse.gov because we discovered that at GLAAD as we were, you know, keeping track of everything that was going on… today when you go on whitehouse.gov and you’re looking for information they ask you your pronouns, so I think we’re going to see a lot happen. I don’t think the Equality Act is going to be pushed aside at all,” Sarah underscores.
Before taking office, President Biden nominated the first openly LGBTQ+ people to be members of his cabinet. Choosing, Pete Buttigieg for Transportation Secretary, and Dr. Rachel Levine for Assistant Secretary of Health would make these two nominees the first openly gay and transgender people to serve in a presidential cabinet. Additionally, on Inauguration Day President Biden signed the most vastly significant and wide-ranging LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination executive order in United States history.
Ellis beams when asked how she feels about the appointment of Dr. Levine and says she is “on top of the world.” She continues, “here is a woman who is highly highly qualified, and for me, it goes even deeper especially because she’s trans. The trans community has been refused health care, has been tortured about who they are and how they appear in this world, and so now to have that prominent of a person, who happens to be trans in a position of health, we ‘re putting ‘human’ back in ‘health and human services.’”
Ellis reminds us, “there are many, many things that need to happen for the LGBTQ community and the first is just our visibility.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, the LGBTQ+ community has been particularly fraught with issues fighting the virus. The community has been widely susceptible to infection, while many icons and prominent members within the community have been partaking in unsafe pandemic taboos, like taking tropical vacations and breaking social distancing guidelines.
Ellis responds to the “GaysOverCovid” Instagram account and says that we have to hang on even though we are all so tired of feeling like “fish out of water” with change not coming fast enough.
Sarah shares ways in which we can continue to urge the community to stay safe and tells us, “we have lived through an epidemic, many of us in the LGBTQ community, and that lasted for years and years because it didn’t get any attention… we understand being a vulnerable community…. there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it came today at noon, because we have somebody who is actually directing COVID.” She adds, “we do have to hold on because often times in our community because we’re disproportionately affected by lack of health care, unemployment, we are more susceptible to illness and disease. And so I really hope that our community takes this seriously, and we can get through this…. our community is the most resilient community that I know.”
Ultimately with a new dawn and a new administration upon us Ellis has so much hope for the LGBTQ+ community and for new voices “to have a seat at the table.” On day one the Biden-Harris administration has gone leaps and bounds beyond the previous administration, which only leads us to believe that there is more hope on the horizon.