Karine Jean-Pierre Becomes First Black Lesbian to Lead White House Press Briefing

Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds a press briefing at the White House
Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre is the first out LGBTQ Black woman to speak for the White House.
REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House principal deputy press secretary, made history on May 26 as the first out Black lesbian woman to deliver a White House press briefing.

Nearly 30 years ago, Judy Smith, the deputy press secretary to President George H.W. Bush, became the first Black woman to issue statements in the James S. Brady Briefing Room. Now Jean-Pierre, who was born in Martinique but raised in Queens, New York, is following her legacy. According to the Washington Blade, former deputy White House press secretary Eric Schultz became the first out gay man to lead a White House press briefing in 2015.

“It’s a real honor to be standing here today,” Jean-Pierre said. “I appreciate the historic nature. I really do. But I believe that being behind this podium, being in this room, being in this building is not about one person. It’s about what we do on behalf of the American people. Clearly, the president believes that representation matters, and I appreciate him giving me this opportunity, and it’s another reason why I think we’re all so proud that this is the most diverse administration in history.”

She added, “This is not about me. This is not about any of us. And anytime I’m behind here … we are going to be truthful, we’re going to be transparent, and that’s the way I believe the president would want us to communicate to the American people.”

Jean-Pierre joins several prominent LGBTQ officials in the Biden-Harris administration, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Gautam Raghavan, an out gay Indian-American man who is the deputy director for the Office of Presidential Personnel. Previously, Jean-Pierre served as a political analyst on NBC and MSNBC and was the chief public affairs officer for MoveOn.org, a public policy advocacy group and political action committee.

While this is Jean-Pierre’s first time at the podium, she has given informal briefings known as “gaggles” to reporters in the past. In a statement on Twitter, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki commended her colleague’s historic debut in the briefing room.

“Today is a big day in the press office and @WhiteHouse,” Psaki tweeted on May 26. “My partner in truth — @KJP46 — is doing her first full briefing from the podium today making history in her own right. But doing her real justice means also recognizing her talent, her brilliance and her wonderful spirit.”

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