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My Existential Dread Took a Hit Thanks to Jill Biden’s Pride Speech

Hope springs eternal on the South Lawn

Sarah Bricker Hunt

In retrospect, attending the White House Pride celebration one day before the “debate” (if we’re calling it that) was a little like playing fiddle as Rome burned. And it felt like it, roasting in the 105-degree heat index on the South Lawn. But the event also couldn’t have been better timed, for me or the country.

Here I stood in the shadow of our nation’s most famous residence, months before (yet another) “most important election of our lives,” a lengthy list of hard-fought victories behind us and a lengthy list of terrifying what-ifs to come. I don’t know about you, but I’m already losing sleep and we haven’t even made it to the conventions yet.

What if this clearly compromised Supreme Court sends Obergefell back to the states, as though basic human equality should be left up to the whims of political figures beholden to voters who have been fully taken by relentless propaganda from the decreasingly far right? What if federal employment and housing protections are dissolved? What if all the LGBTQ+ parents I know who have created their families through “non-traditional” means are at risk, again, of losing their children and their parental rights? What if my kids suffer unthinkable consequences in a culture war aimed squarely at their well-being? I could go on (and I often do these days — sorry, friends, who I used to have a lot more fun with when I was blissfully detached from politics). 

Sarah White House
Pride Source Managing Editor Sarah Bricker Hunt. Photo: Chris Azzopardi

June 26, though, was a day to set aside the what-ifs. Despite my pre-trip handwringing, it wasn’t all that difficult. A (very) thorough security check followed by suddenly finding yourself in the White House’s James S. Brady Press Briefing room — the one on TV! — will do that. I admit, I was feeling a little intimidated in this space where Pulitzer-winning journalists and household names have grilled presidents and world leaders, but here’s a fun secret that has proven true many times in my life: People are just, well, people. Within 15 minutes of waiting in that briefing room, every one of us was taking turns standing at the podium to get our picture taken in the exact same spot where every president since 1970 has stood to communicate with the American people. I even sat in Helen Thomas’s seat in the front row! I’d like to think we were all reminded of what got us into this unglamorous profession in the first place (hint: it wasn’t Google Analytics or the prospect of reading Facebook comments sections under our article posts). 



Because despite the moment in which we find ourselves, and the countless bad ways this could all turn out, and despite the insistence from the right that this is not our country, too, there we were in the literal White House, contemplating the promise of a once-great nation that could actually be great, again — for everyone — if we can just get our shit together. We’ve done it before, and in this moment, it felt like we could do it again.

Once we were led through the White House and out the doors to the South Lawn, where the party was in full swing, the crowd turned to see who was coming through the imposing double doors. I had to chuckle — it was just a small group of tired, cynical journalists from regional publications pretending not to be impressed, after all — and soon enough, we were mingling with a happy crowd bustling with people of all ages and backgrounds, united in a passion for equity and progress. And later, when Jill Biden delivered her remarks, it felt like no matter what, we’d all get through it together, and maybe even come out stronger on the other side.

“Today, we’re here to find joy, to feel at home, to be free. To say loud and clear that you belong, that you are beautiful, that you are loved…” she said. “When you leave here, to go back into a place that still needs so much change, take that with you. Let it be a reminder that you don’t face these battles alone. You are never alone.”

I suppose that’s the reason I’ve been driven to write since I was a little kid — to try and make people feel less alone. The First Lady’s speech was a well-timed reminder that, ultimately, this publication exists with that very goal in mind. A reader recently told me that Between The Lines feels like a family newsletter to her. I love that sentiment because no matter where the chips may fall, when you have a family that loves the real you, the things that truly matter will always remain. 



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