WASHINGTON, D.C. — A transgender immigrant activist heckled President Barack Obama at his annual LGBT Pride Month reception at the White House on June 24, calling attention to the detention and deportation of LGBT immigrants.

“Hold on a second,” the president said in response to the heckling. “No, no, no, no, no. Hey, Listen. You’re in my house.”

The president added, “You’re not going to get a good response from me by interrupting me like this.”

After asking the activist, GetEqual’s Jennicet Gutiérrez, an undocumented trans Latina leader with FAMILIA TQLM, to stop and stay for the rest of the event, Obama eventually asked her to be escorted out.

In a commentary published by the Washington Blade, Gutiérrez said she interrupted the president “because we need to be heard.”

“For the immigrant LGBTQ community progress has not fully been realized because of the continuous discrimination and violence we face in our daily lives,” she wrote. “I spoke out because our issues and struggles can no longer be ignored.”

Gutiérrez’ outspokenness was met with jeers and boos from others at the reception, but she was praised among some advocacy circles.

Jacob Tobia, a Duke University graduate and North Carolina native, defended the activist online.

“I am incredibly proud of Jennicet Gutiérrez for standing up for transgender people being abused in deportation facilities,” Tobia, a transgender activist, wrote on Facebook. “So often, when activists are invited to events like yesterday’s White House pride reception, we feel like we can no longer protest, no longer make our voices heard. But standing up for the rights of undocumented transgender people is an act of love, compassion, and kindness. We should all be proud of Jennicet for taking a stand in such a public and powerful way.”

You can read Gutiérrez’ commentary at the Washington Blade online at bit.ly/1LHfwab.

— Matt Comer


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