Joe Biden appoints first-ever out lesbian to ambassador-level post

Chantale Wong

Chantale Wong is set to become the first ever out lesbian appointed to an ambassador-level post after Joe Biden announced her nomination.

The president announced that he was nominating Wong as United States Director of the Asian Development Bank with the rank of ambassador on Friday (2 July).

Writing on Facebook, Chantale Wong said she was “truly humbled and honoured” to receive the history-making nomination from Joe Biden.

“If I am confirmed by the US Senate, I will serve with humility and with purpose of advancing US interest at the Asian Development Bank and the region on behalf of my fellow Americans,” Wong wrote.

She went on to thank her mother, sister, daughter and friends for their “endless support”, adding: “I am thinking of my mentor Alice Rivlin who has taught me about doing good and doing it right and of John Lewis who taught me about making good trouble but necessary trouble.”

The announcement was celebrated by Global Equality, a group that works to advance American foreign policy in a way that is inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

“We are thrilled with the nomination of Chantale Wong – our nation’s first openly lesbian ambassador to represent our country,” the group wrote on Twitter.

“Extraordinarily qualified and long overdue.”

The news was also welcomed by the Victory Institute, an organisation that works to increase the number of LGBT+ people elected and serving in senior governmental positions.

Chantale Wong was nominated because of her ‘exceptional qualifications and expertise’

“Today Chantale moved the bar as the first out lesbian and first out LGBTQ person of colour nominated at an ambassador level, yet this important moment is about more than making history,” said Annise Parker, president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Institute.

“Chantale will represent the most powerful nation in the Asian Development Bank at a time when many of its member states criminalise LGBTQ people and deny them the right to marry.

“Her presence and leadership can change perceptions of LGBTQ people among representatives from other nations – potentially inching countries toward more acceptance of LGBTQ citizens.

“While she was nominated because of her exceptional qualifications and expertise, Chantale will be a powerful symbol of the Biden administration’s commitment to equality and member states will be forced to notice and respect it.

“We now call on the administration to nominate diverse LGBTQ people as ambassadors – including LGBTQ women, trans leaders and LGBTQ leaders of colour.”

Wong had a long and distinguished career before her groundbreaking nomination to the Asian Development Bank. She has 30 years of experience working across finance, technology and the environment.

She was formerly appointed by Barack Obama to serve as vice president for administration and finance and chief financial officer at the Millennium Challenge Corporation. She was also appointed by Bill Clinton to the board of directors at the Asian Development Bank.