First lady Jill Biden hosts Pride Month celebration at White House
The Fil-Am Connection

First Lady Jill Biden hosts LGBTQ+ Pride celebration at the White House

Among the attendees was Fil-Am actor Nico Santos, known for his role in 'Crazy Rich Asians'
/ 06:00 AM June 27, 2024

Pride Month at White House

From San Francisco to the White House: Politician and cancer survivor Francis Tsang (third from left) joins the White House Pride event, celebrating LGBTQ+ diversity and love. PHOTO BY ELTON LUGAY

Elton Lugay column IDWASHINGTON – On the eve of the historic presidential debate, First Lady Jill Biden hosted nearly a thousand LGBTQ+ leaders and allies Wednesday evening on the South Lawn of the White House.

Among the esteemed attendees was openly gay Fil-Am actor Nico Santos, known for his roles in “Crazy Rich Asians” and NBC’s “Superstore,” who attended the event with his husband, Zeke Smith.

“This is my first time at the White House,” Santos, who was born in Manila and moved to Oregon at 16, told USA. “My husband was invited, and I had to reschedule a show in Texas because I didn’t want to miss this opportunity. We must cherish every moment to celebrate and be with our community, especially with a supportive President and First Family.”

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The First Lady emphasized the importance of the Pride celebration, showcasing the contributions of the LGBTQI+ community and highlighting the Biden Administration’s commitment to supporting and uplifting LGBTQI+ families.

“I’m so happy to be here with my daughter as we celebrate your families – those you’re born into, the ones you build, and the ones you choose,” she began. “Looking out at all of you, I see America. And it’s an honor to welcome you to our home. Home isn’t always a place with an address. Sometimes, home is the bonds we build through choice and chance – the communities we create together.”

Nico Santos with boyfriend

When asked about his role as a figure for the Filipino LGBT community in America, actor Nico Santos from Crazy Rich Asians and NBC sitcom Superstore, acknowledged his initial pressure but embraced the diversity of individuals. Understanding that not all Filipinos or queer individuals share the same experiences, he aims to bring joy through his work and hopes to evoke pride within both communities. He said he doesn’t seek to represent everyone, recognizing that each person follows a unique journey. Photo shows Santos (left) with husband Zeke Smith. PHOTO BY ELTON LUGAY

Dr. Biden acknowledged the challenges the LGBTQI+ community faces, especially from states passing laws targeting LGBTQ Americans. “Even as we celebrate, we know this community is under attack. But when our homes are threatened, we say: Not on our watch. Pride is a celebration, but it’s also a declaration: We will not be silenced.”

Jill Biden Pride Month

At the White House Pride celebration, Dr. Jill Biden hosted diverse families and communities, reaffirming the Biden administration’s commitment to equality. She highlighted significant achievements such as the legalization of same-sex marriage and support for LGBTQ rights in the military, while calling for unity and continued advocacy for change. PHOTO BY ELTON LUGAY

This year’s Pride Month celebration coincided with Equality Day, marking the anniversary of three landmark Supreme Court cases affirming the right to marry the person one loves. Since taking office, President Biden has taken historic actions to advance equality for the LGBTQI+ community, including:

  • Signing the Respect for Marriage Act
  • Ending the ban on transgender Americans serving in the military
  • Strengthening civil rights protections through executive orders
  • Developing a national strategy to end the HIV epidemic
  • Ending bans on blood donations from gay and bisexual men
  • Announcing clemency for LGBTQI+ former service members expelled from the military
Pride Month White House

This fan, provided by the White House to attendees of the Pride event, offered some relief from the nearly 100-degree scorching heat in the nation’s capital and on the South Lawn of the White House. More importantly, it was a joyful occasion for the LGBTQ+ community to receive the full support of no less than the Biden administration. PHOTO BY ELTON LUGAY

Francis Tsang, former chief of staff to the mayor of San Francisco, expressed his privilege in celebrating with the LGBTQ+ community at the White House. “I used to work for the mayor in San Francisco, where I met many influential community members. I never thought I would be here for this kind of event, but it truly celebrates the energy and diversity of the LGBTQ+ community. This wasn’t like this four years ago. I’m so glad we started to do all these events again. I can’t believe I’m here at the White House on the South Lawn with First Lady Jill Biden and the rest of this community. I’m just so proud of that. Outside of Pride, there hasn’t been an event that embodies equality and everything our community is about. Love is love. I have the right to get married and be recognized by the government, and that’s a good thing.”

The event featured a live performance by award-winning singer and actress Deborah Cox, and musical selections by DJ Trife.


Later, the First Lady addressed the children, encouraging them to enjoy the event and assuring them that “you belong, you are beautiful, you are loved.” The crowd responded with chants of “Four more years! Four more years!”

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TAGS: LGBTQ, Pride Month, White House
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