At the Stonewall Day livestream benefit, former President Barack Obama gave a special address to the LGBTQ people of America to look back on the legacy of the Stonewall Riots, and to celebrate the progress that has been made since then.
“We’re almost 51 years from the night the patrons at the Stonewall Inn stood up for their rights, and set off one of America’s defining victories for civil rights,” he said at the start of his speech, highlighting marriage equality and the Supreme Court’s recent ruling banning workplace discrimination against LGBTQ people. “All that progress is worth celebrating and reflecting on.”
The former president highlighted how the LGBTQ rights movement stands as an example of how “protest and politics go hand in hand,” and that the continued protests around the country to address racism and police brutality should be regarded with the same kind of spirit. “I hope you know that your voice can make an enormous difference,” he said. “Progress doesn’t happen on its own, it happens because we stand up, speak out, and demand change.”
In closing his speech, President Obama encouraged viewers to continue the fight for equality in whatever way they can through protest and voting. “Never doubt that the democratic story of change that we celebrate today is still possible, because it is,” he said. “If we all do our part in our time, I believe that five years or fifty years from now, folks will gather to commemorate the victories we achieved beginning right now.”
President Obama was one of a cavalcade of guest stars during Pride Live’s special livestream event, which also saw the likes of Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Kesha, Demi Lovato, Hayley Kiyoko and more stars appear to celebrate the LGBTQ community.
Watch President Obama’s full remarks, along with the rest of the Stonewall Day livestream, below: