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Barack Obama Out
Courtesy Out magazine, photography Ryan Pfluger

Why has Barack Obama made the cover of Out magazine?

The US president was named LGBT ‘ally of the year’ by the publication – we round up some of the reasons why

Out magazine has featured some of the most important members of the LGBT movement over its twenty year lifespan: from prominent trailblazers like Caitlyn Jenner and Ellen Page, to gay icons like Britney and Beyoncé. However, for this year’s Out100 list – in which they round up the year's most influential figures – they've probably secured the biggest coup of them all: the POTUS himself, Mr. Barack Obama. 

The magazine tweeted the president's new Ryan Pfluger-shot cover yesterday, alongside the caption “Our President. Ally. Hero. Icon.” For anyone unaware, this is big news: especially as it's the first time ever that any president has sat for an LGBT publication. “Many share credit for what has transpired,” wrote editor-in-chief Aaron Hicklin. “But there’s no question that without the active engagement of the 44th president of the United States, who has made securing the rights of LGBT Americans a fundamental part of his legacy, we’d still be working to fulfill that dream.” 

Out does point out there are still mammoth leaps yet to be made, though. For example, LGBT homelessness rates are still rocketing, the murder rate of trans POC is still not getting the urgent attention it deserves, and in some states you can still be fired for your sexuality or gender. That's all pretty dire. However, there's no doubt that progress is (very) slowly being made. So, to celebrate, here's a quick round up of some of Obama's most significant breakthroughs. 


Barack Obama was officially the first president to admit to supporting gay marriage – declaring it a constitutional right in June this year. It was a long time coming – and tbh, for a while it felt like it was never going to happen. “Love is love,” he said, once the law was finally passed. “All Americans are entitled to the equal protection of the law; that all people should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or who they love.”


As previously mentioned, there's still a long way to go when it comes to stifling America's hate crimes – but at least the first small step has been taken. Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act back in 2009, as crimes motivated by anti-LGBT bias were not covered by the US Department of Justice before that point. Which is obviously completely insane. “We must stand against crimes that are meant not only to break bones, but to break spirits,” he explained. “Not only to inflict harm, but to instill fear.”


“As of September 20, service members will no longer be forced to hide who they are in order to serve our country,” stated Obama, shortly after he repealed the highly damaging “Don't Ask Don't Tell” policy. Brought in 17 years ago, the act justified discrimination, and stopped openly gay people from joining the armed forces – despite the fact that, you know, they would have been risking their lives for the country.


As well as hiring the White House's first transgender member of staff, Obama has also introduced a record number (approx 250 appointments) of LGBT people to the top US government jobs. This includes judges, ambassadors and full-time federal positions. “Equality in the workplace is not only the right thing to do, it turns out to be good business,” he explained. “It is not just about doing the right thing – it’s also about attracting and retaining the best talent.”