*The nation’s first black president is now the first U.S. president to pose for the cover of a gay magazine.
President Barack Obama did a photo shoot for the new issue of Out Magazine. The words beneath his cover image: “Our President.” The special issue focuses on LGBTQ rights and politics in America.
“This is the first time a sitting president has been photographed for the cover of an LGBT title, a historic moment in itself, and a statement on how much his administration has done to advance a singularly volatile issue that tarnished the reputations of both President Clinton and President Bush,” read an intro to his interview.
Read an excerpt from the interview below:
Out Magazine: In Kenya this year you likened the LGBT experience in Africa to the civil rights struggle of African-Americans in the U.S. Not everyone has been a fan of the comparison. Why do you think it’s valuable to tie these struggles together in this way?
President Obama: I made that comparison because I think it’s an accurate one. As I said in Kenya, in a lot of ways what we’re talking about is equality under the law — that was a critical element of the civil rights movement in the United States, and that is an essential part of the struggle that LGBT people are facing around the world.
I think this is both a question of attitudes and a question of behavior. Accepting and embracing someone for who they are requires a change in attitude. And in the United States we’ve seen that change in attitude, in many hearts and minds, as more and more LGBT people are brave enough to come out and live their lives openly, and as their relatives and neighbors and co-workers realize that they know and like and love a member of the LGBT community.
The other part is behavior. Regardless of their personal views, we need to treat one another with a basic level of respect. And governments need to enforce the law, prosecute acts of violence, and protect the human rights of their citizens — all of their citizens — without discrimination.
I also think that it’s important for us to acknowledge our own history. In the United States we talk a lot about working to perfect our union. And there is a lot of work to be done with respect to civil rights in the United States — for African-Americans, LGBT people, for many others. When I travel around the world and speak to foreign audiences, I think it is helpful when I acknowledge our own shortcomings and speak honestly about our history and the lessons we’ve learned along the way instead of pretending that we have all the answers. I think it also helps build the trust and openness we need to work together as countries to meet a whole range of challenges.
Read the entire interview here.