First openly gay White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on coming out: ‘It wasn’t easy’

Karine Jean-Pierre

The first openly gay White House press secretary has marked National Coming Out Day (11 October) by sharing her personal story. 

In May this year Karine Jean-Pierre made history when she become the first Black and out LGBTQ+ person to take the White House press secretary role. 

On Tuesday (11 September) Jean-Pierre took to Twitter to open up about coming out story to her 2.4 million followers. 

In a video that has so far accumulated 75,000 views Jean-Pierre recalls that coming out “wasn’t an easy thing to do”. 

She said her family were “traditional and conservative” and being gay “wasn’t something you mentioned out loud or celebrated”. 

“But my family, like many many other families, grew to accept who I was they saw that who I was didn’t change who I was as a person and it didn’t change the things I liked to do and it didn’t change the goals I had for my life.”

Jean-Pierre added: “The beauty of America is its freedoms and the promise that you can achieve your dreams not matter your race, sex, country of origin, sexual orientation or gender identity. 

“This is something we continue to strive toward and fight for particularly as we continue to see a wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation across the country.”

In a series of Tweets Jean-Pierre repeated what she had said at the conference and added: “Don’t feel discouraged if you come out and your family doesn’t embrace you right away. Love always wins!” 

The initial tweet, resulted in hugely positive comments from followers, with the majority praising Jean-Pierre for giving the LGBTQ+ community a voice. 

One person wrote: “Thank you for sharing your story. I didn’t know that you were gay. It didn’t change my opinion of you or who you are as a person. I hope one day our world has that same attitude. Until then, share your story for all those struggling with their identity. You are an inspiration!”

She has served as principal deputy press secretary and deputy assistant to the president since Joe Biden entered office in 2021.

Back in 2018 she said “I am everything Trump hates”, adding “I am a Black woman. I am gay. I am a mom”.

National Coming Out Day 

LGBTQ+ activist Peter Tatchell at an event

LGBTQ+ activist Peter Tatchell. (Karwai Tang/WireImage)

LGBTQ+ activist Peter Tatchell told PinkNews he believes “coming out is the single most important thing anyone can do”.

Tatchell said coming out not only relieves the “burden of leading a secretive double life” but also helps to “break down prejudice”.

Soon after Tatchell turned 17 in 1969 he realised he was gay. Three months after that he had his first “big relationship” and began to come out to friends and work colleagues.

Parents ‘had a few tears’

“I had to be careful about who I told. Back then, in my homeland of Australia, homosexuality was still a crime punishable by several years imprisonment and even enforced psychiatric treatment.

“I did not initially tell my parents because they were right-wing evangelicals. I feared they might turn me and my boyfriend into the police. Plus, given their conservative religious beliefs, I thought that telling them straight out might cause them to have a mental breakdown.”

Due to this Tatchell began to “drop hints” over the next three years to enable his parents to come to the realisation that he was gay.

“When they felt comfortable, they asked me and I told them I was gay. They had a few tears. But they always said that the slow drip drip of hints was kinder and enabled them to more easily adjust to my homosexuality.”

Amazin LeThi with President Biden and the First Lady Dr Jill Biden

Amazin LeThi with President Biden and the First Lady Dr Jill Biden.(Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Queer bodybuilder Amazin LeThi shared with PinkNews that she initially struggled with her sexuality due to never seeing people like her while growing up.

“For many years I struggled with my sexuality because I never saw an LGBTQ+ or Asian LGBTQ+ person in the media or heard of a story like mine, so I had always thought I was the only Asian LGBTQ person in the world growing up.”

LeThi said the lack of representation made her feel she could never be openly out.

“It was only through my participation through sports and becoming an athlete that gave me the confidence to celebrate and love myself.

“On reflection as a proud, unapologetic, visible, queer Asian woman and athlete it has been my life-long background in sports that helped me show up now as my authentic self.”