Barack Obama | Bullying | Human Rights Campaign | News | Valerie Jarrett

Watch: Senior White House Adviser Valerie Jarrett Says Gay Bullying Victim Justin Aaberg Made 'Lifestyle Choice'


Senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, in an interview with the Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart, discusses the recent string of suicides related to anti-gay bullying, and describes meeting Minnesota teen Justin Aaberg's family backstage at the Human Rights Campaign dinner, where she recently gave a speech.

She also calls Aaberg's sexuality a "lifestyle choice":

"They were aware that their son was gay. They embraced him. They loved him. They supported his lifestyle choice. But yet when he left the home and he went to school he was tortured by his classmates."

Watch (starts around the 3:45 mark), AFTER THE JUMP...

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. The only lifestyle choice I have made is that I no longer give money to the DNC, DNCC, etc. $$$ only goes to candidates who actually support LGBT issues.

    Posted by: bkmn | Oct 13, 2010 6:23:26 PM

  2. Where do i send the AMA reference?

    Posted by: D Gregory smith | Oct 13, 2010 6:23:49 PM

  3. BALBO1, surely you don't mean a word you typed. Using "politically correct" as an excuse for using language that's insulting to a group is ridiculous. That's never okay.

    Saying it's okay because her heart was in the right place is, at best, infantile. So if she had called dead gay teens "faggots" that would have been cool with you as long as she meant well? Of course not. And you don't excuse this insult by saying it's okay because she's a moron.

    And "... a nice way of saying gay"? Hey, here's an idea: how about saying "gay"? That's a whole two syllables less than her way of saying it and it's what gay people actually say about themselves. How is it nice not to refer to people correctly, accurately, respectfully or honestly?

    Posted by: ohplease | Oct 13, 2010 6:25:40 PM

  4. what Nobby said - it's a stupid remark but not a hateful one so we should really get a grip.

    Posted by: ant | Oct 13, 2010 6:25:54 PM

  5. We need to take this opportunity to educate, to stop this ignorance.

    Posted by: D Gregory smith | Oct 13, 2010 6:26:13 PM

  6. Very dumb. Fits well with the HRC, though. Great logo, HRC, but thanks not very much for Prop 8.

    Posted by: Russell | Oct 13, 2010 6:26:47 PM

  7. I agree that she's trying to be supportive. The point is she's doing a piss-poor job of it, while betraying that her mindset has largely been formed by our enemies. People can only be educated when they want to be, and the White House & staff have little or no interest in gay equality.

    Posted by: adamblast | Oct 13, 2010 6:29:32 PM

  8. The White House only pays lip service to "supporting" GLBT rights. They'll only do the minimum amount necessary to prevent a total, mass revolt of all GLBT people. They don't really care about our problems because, as Jett just pointed out, they don't really understand them. We need someone who truly gets our problems if we're to see real change. It's clear -- though sad -- that the Obama White House is just out of touch. The best we can say about it is it's better than a McCain White House, although only marginally so.

    Posted by: Ryan | Oct 13, 2010 6:30:11 PM

  9. Correction: Jarrett, not Jett.

    Sorry for the brain fart.

    Posted by: Ryan | Oct 13, 2010 6:31:12 PM

  10. How can you expect them to walk the walk when they can't even talk the talk? The bullies' vocabulary just got White House stamp of approval: "Why did you choose to be HOMOsexual? Why didn't you choose a normal lifestyle? What HOMOsexual taught you to choose the HOMOsexual lifestyle?" etc. ad nauseum.

    Posted by: Hue-Man | Oct 13, 2010 6:33:33 PM

  11. Oh come on, it's obviously just a poor choice of words. If you think that this sort of comment justifies firing her, changing political parties, etc., you're delusional.

    Poor word choice, even poorer response by readers on this website.

    Posted by: RDRCK | Oct 13, 2010 6:34:42 PM

  12. Please don't call her things like "stupid bitch." It's disgusting and hypocritically sexist.

    That said, I cannot emphasize enough how disappointed I am that the top administration people are so ignorant of anything about the gay community that the incredibly offensive "lifestyle choice" comes out of their mouths.

    OMG. Do they honestly not know anyone at all who is gay?

    Posted by: Skeptical Cicada | Oct 13, 2010 6:40:40 PM

  13. She's the real president, I believe. Obama just goes out and gets the crowds "fired up." I am surprised the conservative attack machine hasn't gone after her with all its might except that she's probably well aligned there as well. She's made my skin crawl since the first time I heard her voice. Pure evil, with or without her lifestyle comment.

    Posted by: Arthur | Oct 13, 2010 6:42:56 PM

  14. I accept that she may not have intended to be so ignorant and offensive in her words. But she works for an administration that has not kept a single promise which it made to the LGBT community.

    THAT'S the context in which I view Jarrett's pig-ignorant comments.

    Posted by: SteveC | Oct 13, 2010 6:45:03 PM

  15. The choice of words betrays their true feelings. They think being gay is a choice. This is why they probably don't put it on the front burner and are bending over for the religious right on this issue.

    Posted by: steve talbert | Oct 13, 2010 6:45:06 PM

  16. I am often told that gay twenty-somethings no longer feel that being gay is defining for them. The bullying wave is a reminder that sexual orientation will continue to define people's lives for a long time to come. Jarrett's comments are disappointing but we already knew that the gay and black communities often are challenged in understanding each other even on the best days.

    Posted by: interglossa | Oct 13, 2010 6:48:29 PM

  17. the hrc is totally ineffective. their message is like white noise. and obama... how disappointing.

    Posted by: jon | Oct 13, 2010 6:50:41 PM

  18. BASH her...she is wrong...
    BUT F^Ck Johnathan Capehart! He is OPENLY GAY why didnt HE call her on it right then and there?

    Write him at the homophobic Washington Post and ask HIM to explain it.

    Oh and HRC Killed my cat not one penny more.

    Posted by: mcNnyc | Oct 13, 2010 6:52:33 PM

  19. "lifestyle choice" ?? She needs to be fired, immediately.

    Posted by: Tre Gibbs | Oct 13, 2010 6:54:35 PM

  20. I agree it was bad choice of words but before wanting to throw her out and destroy the Democrats (jeez, guys take a chill pill), remember she was talking IN SUPPORT of bullied teens. Let's not get our panties in a bunch with the people that SUPPORT us... we need to reserve that bile for Paladino etc. And all those 'sitting the election out' or 'not voting Democrat again' etc etc I am sure you will LOVE the alternative, won't you? Ugh!

    Posted by: CKNJ | Oct 13, 2010 6:54:43 PM

  21. I'm sure that given proper coaching she would have used the "correct" term. Then you guys would be bitching about some other minor slight.

    Being gay isn't a choice. Being out is a lifestyle choice.

    Besides, WE were the first ones to use the word "lifestyle" to describe ourselves way back in the 70s. Then we switched to "sexual preference". Then we finally got around to "sexual orientation" (which is more logical and true).

    Go ahead, tear her a new one because she's a couple decades behind. And take your money to that other party whose candidates still call us "perverts".

    Posted by: BobN | Oct 13, 2010 6:57:11 PM

  22. The Democratic Party views gays as a reliable source of cash in urban areas, and not much more. Their failure to act (besides ending the HIV travel ban -- which Bush supported -- and passing a hate crimes bill that has yet to see a single prosecution) shows an utter lack of principle. To the commenter who said we should vote for them anyways, because the Republicans are so much worse, you're essentially engaging in a form of blackmail. The Democrats DO NOT deserve our votes until they're willing to prove it. The burden is on them.

    OHPLEASE, there's a big difference between a slur like "faggot" and a mealy-mouthed phrase like "lifestyle choice". One is clearly offensive, while the other is intended to be nice but is instead impolitic and a bit ignorant. Now, I agree with most of your argument. People should just say "gay" and be done with it. It's correct, accurate and expresses a connection to what we are.

    But again, a lot of pro-gay heterosexuals use terms like "lifestyle choice" and "alternative lifestyle" because it sounds positive to them. It's like saying you support people making choices, and that choices are good. It's a bit like saying "African American" instead of "black". Most blacks would rather be called black. Black is beautiful, after all! And "African American" is prone to inaccuracies -- not all blacks in America are African American, for one. And there are blacks who are not of African descent. It's not necessarily and overtly offensive, in my view, but it can be patronizing.

    I'm the kind of gay who tends to cringe and say, quietly, next time please don't say that! But I can't get upset by it. I'm more embarrassed by it. I don't think it's OK, and I don't excuse it, I just try to understand the context and where the person saying it is coming from.

    Posted by: Balbo1 | Oct 13, 2010 6:58:41 PM

  23. What is just as stunning is the speech she gave, and what wasn't said:

    Posted by: Mike | Oct 13, 2010 7:01:23 PM

  24. I haven't donated to HRC for a while because I am so disappointed in this organization and this past one year and half just pushed me over the edge. I donate pretty decent amount of money for a 20s something white collar and I want to donate to people who deserve it.

    I just wrote an email to HRC and made a very strong point that they will not receive a penny from me anymore.

    It really makes me angry and it is not just this one incident. It's been such a long build up.

    It is ironic that they wanted to become a force in Washington to further our issues by playing their games and the game completely consumed them. It is tragic.

    Posted by: David | Oct 13, 2010 7:01:26 PM

  25. Good point BOBN!

    It's my understanding that we used to frown on suggestions that our gayness was biologically determined, because the homophobes were going on about how homosexuality was a problem with our very nature and being. By making a choice, we suddenly had agency and could live life on our own terms. By making a choice to be gay, we could determine the lives we lead without the permission of straight people. This was also during a time when homosexuality was thought to be a form of retardation or a mental disorder.

    This changed once science began to suggest that homosexuality may be biologically determined after all, and this does seem more accurate -- objectively and from my own life experience. The homophobes now don't say our nature is corrupted, but that we've made the wrong choice.

    Ultimately, however, it doesn't matter if it is a choice or not, because it doesn't change the fact that there is nothing wrong with what we do and who we love.

    Posted by: Balbo1 | Oct 13, 2010 7:09:39 PM

  26. « | 1 2 3 4 5 »

Post a comment


« «Towleroad Guide to the Tube #751« «