First Lady Jill Biden on Monday celebrated former First Lady Nancy Reagan getting her face on a postage stamp. It might seem like a good thing to do, except that it did because LGBTQ Pride Month began and Reagan’s husband’s administration spent years ignoring the fact that gay men tens of thousands more likely to suffer from AIDS complications. were dying.
Nancy Reagan “made such a difference,” Biden raged during a White House ceremony as she stood next to a giant image of the former first lady’s face on a stamp.
“First Lady Nancy Reagan served the American people with grace,” she continued. “She understood that the role of First Lady comes with inherent pitfalls and scrutiny, yet she found humanity in it all.”
Jill Biden and President Joe Biden are both strong advocates of LGBTQ rights, which makes the decision to honor Reagan at the start of Pride Month at the wrong time.
Just last week, the president issued a proclamation declaring June 2022 “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI+) Pride Month.”
“This month, we remind the LGBTQI+ community that they are loved and cherished,” President Biden said in his announcement. “My administration sees you for who you are – worthy of dignity, respect and support.”
Former President Ronald Reagan was very different. Before becoming president, he referred to gay people as “ill unfortunates” and as governor of California he prohibited the repeal of the state’s anti-sodomy laws.
After arriving at the White House in 1980, Reagan remained silent for years as the AIDS epidemic ravaged the LGBTQ community. He did not give his first major public speech on the AIDS crisis until May 1987, when thousands of people, mostly gay and bisexual men, died. He did so in 1986 after recommending cuts to federal AIDS spending.
Nancy Reagan herself turned down a plea for help from her friend, actor Rock Hudson, who was desperately trying to find a cure for AIDS in France in 1985. Nine weeks before his death, he sought help from the White House to be transferred to another hospital for experimental treatment in a final attempt to save his life. Nancy Reagan said no.
Monday’s event honoring Reagan also included US Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who was recently sued by a former postal worker who claimed he was discriminated against and called gay and HIV positive. was fired for being.
DeJoy dismissed the case as completely technical.
White House press secretary Carine Jean-Pierre, the first LGBTQ person to hold the position, pointed to HuffPost in the first lady’s office for comment.
First Lady’s press secretary Michael Larosa said the timing of the event honoring Nancy Reagan was pegged to the opening of a building in DC.
“This ceremonial stamp was unveiled to commemorate the centenary of Mrs. Reagan and was set the day before the opening of the Ronald Reagan Institute building in DC,” LaRosa told HuffPost in a Tuesday statement.
“President Biden and the First Lady have a long and proud record of supporting, fighting and advancing LGBTQ+ rights and those living with HIV/AIDS,” he said. “Just last month, Dr. Biden visited a shelter in Panama for people living with HIV/AIDS and announced an additional $80 million in PEPFAR funds for the region. The White House and First Family to honor PRIDE Month and There are many plans to celebrate.”