The Weather

Former President Obama Informally Proclaims July LGBT Rest Month

Subject : You must be exhausted.

Sarah —

June was a busy month for my family. Michelle and I bought a home a few blocks away from our old one. We took the girls on a vacation through Indonesia. I also got to see my buddy Justin Trudeau in Montreal. Stateside, I helped induct my other buddy, Jay-Z, into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

I’m back at home now, nursing jetlag, a few mosquito bites, and an aboot that won’t quit. This letter comes to you from my new Lay-Z-Boy recliner. Now that I don’t have to choose style over comfort, I treated myself to one. It’s the little things.

Yesterday, Sasha looked at me, grimaced, and said, “Just don’t buy Crocs, dad.”

Jay’s 4:44 is playing on our stereo. My favorite verse on the album is in the song “MaNyfaCedGod”:

Be grateful for whatever comes / Because each has been sent from
a guy from beyond / That’s what Rumi say / “Never go to bed
mad,” that’s what my Ummi say

Sarah, I hear that June was a busy month for your family, too.

During my first few months as President, I proclaimed June Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. Despite the violent opposition from conservatives in 2009, I did not negotiate on Pride. I knew what I was getting myself into. I went to my share of Ivy League mixers in the 80s when Jodie Foster and Bruce Cohen were at Yale. It didn’t take me long to learn that LGBT folks were capable of throwing a party lasting 30 days and 30 nights. We all deserve the right to love openly. We all deserve to live fearlessly. We all deserve rainbow-themed bagels, vodka, and oil exchanges. It was that simple.

Last month, your fierce community took to the streets of New York, Los Angeles, and my native Chicago to celebrate the essence of who you are and how accepting our fifty states have become. You came. You saw. You popper’d.

Like your Stonewall predecessors, you also came to fight back against rollbacks in adequate healthcare and protections for LGBT people by the current administration. Even Edith Windsor, the 88 year-old widow who labored to make marriage equality the law of the land, joined the picket line one more time.

I was inspired by your family’s tireless resistance, Sarah.

I was also disheartened that the thirty days of festivity had to be colored by thirty days of hard work. You must be exhausted.

While Sasha offers me sound fashion advice, Malia offers me ideological guidance. She’s taken me to task about my response to Jennicet Gutiérrez during the White House LGBT Pride reception in 2015. She also gave me the book that drove me to pardon Chelsea Manning: Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis.

Malia is at Harvard this week for freshman orientation. She has been sharing her learnings about this thing called “self-care” with me. Just a few days ago, she emailed me a quotation by the black lesbian poet Audre Lorde: Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare. I immediately forwarded it along to Jay, who’s also battling jetlag after promoting his new album.

It is thanks to Malia that I’ve realized something: Pride Month isn’t enough. Your invaluable community needs more support, Sarah.

Today, I am excited to announce that I’m teaming up with the National Sleep Foundation for a “Take Pride in Restfulness” campaign. Each July 1, immediately following Pride Month, you’ll receive emails from me about getting a better night’s sleep, from limiting midday caffeine intake to powering down your smartphones and streaming video services at least two hours prior to bedtime. No need to lose sleep over The L Word, Sarah. My former Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith has informed me that Bette and Tina’s relationship will survive season six.

You can also receive these pointers via SMS. Simply text Pride in Restfulness to 1-800-GAY-NAPS.

Did you know that one in three adults in the U.S. don’t get enough sleep? I’ve done the math. If one in ten of our citizens identifies as LGBT, that means that at least 10,713,333 LGBT Americans are tossing and turning their nights away. That’s nothing to take pride in, Sarah. While I will always work to keep the government out of your bedroom, sleep is another thing.

Let’s be allies again, Sarah.

Together, you and I repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. We instituted the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and made the policy inclusive of our transgender friends. We championed medical leave for LGBT parents. We saw marriage equality through to the Supreme Court. It’s time to tackle one last issue.

See you in bed,

Barack

PS – Given that I’m emailing you so late in July, I’d like to go ahead and take the opportunity to remind you that my birthday is August 4. Think you’ll be well-rested and ready to party again by then?

Sarah Fonseca's essays, criticism, filthy ideas, and overlapping iterations have appeared or forthcoming in Autostraddle, Buzzfeed, Cleis Press' Best Lesbian Erotica anthology, The Lambda Literary Review, Math Magazine, Mubi's Notebook, NYLON, and Wussy Mag. Read more at sarahfonseca.com.