LGBTQ Families at the White House Easter Egg Roll: What Did It Mean To Me?

The annual White House Easter Egg Roll is coming up, and in recent years, Family Equality Council has been honored to be allocated tickets by the White House, specifically to ensure LGBTQ families are represented and included at this iconic, national event. As you may have read in media reports, this year’s Easter Egg Roll has faced some operational challenges, and unfortunately the White House has not reached out to us this year with an offer of tickets. Other groups invited in recent years, including local schools and organizations representing military families, also have not heard anything about this year’s event.

Given the significance of the Easter Egg Roll for our supporters in recent years, we didn’t want to let this year’s event slip by without comment, so I talked to Tommy Starling, an Emeritus Board Member of Family Equality Council, to hear what attending the event in 2009 meant to him and his family.

– Ed Harris, Director of Communications

Here’s what Tommy wrote:

Growing up as a gay man in the Southern Bible Belt has its challenges. Living life as an out and proud member of the LGBTQ community is often unyielding and being a married gay man with children is an endurance test of isolation. Without the ability to travel, our family would have few opportunities to see similar households or experience the freedom of strolling down a street without stares or prying questions.

We sometimes feel disregarded and ostracized by our larger community and government, so you can imagine our delight and surprise when we were formally invited to attend the 2009 Egg Roll at The White House. We reveled in the sight of so many LGBT-headed families proudly wearing their rainbow flower leis about The White House lawn. We felt like we had finally made it!

Tommy Starling and his family at the White House Easter Egg Roll

It is very heartwarming and emotional to be included and recognized by our government. The simple act of being able to participate in a time-honored tradition, as the person you are, and not feel oppressed is life-changing. My husband and daughter still talk about that day.

As a citizen, nothing makes me feel more patriotic and proud as being able to participate in an American tradition. Including my family in a historic event at The White House has helped to ease some of our feelings of isolation and ostracism. We made life-long friends that warm, sunny day in Washington, DC and the administration that included us reaffirmed our unyielding support. My family is forever grateful for this experience of inclusion and look forward to being included in future events.