The Obama Of Albania

Mindy Michels illustrates the rhetorical power that a political leader can have on gay equality:

Not quite three years ago, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues suddenly became Albanian headlines when Prime Minister Sali Berisha (who is still in office) unexpectedly declared his support for same-sex marriage at a televised meeting of his ministers. …

In 2009 fears about possible violence, discrimination, lack of acceptance, and, perhaps most importantly, the shame that it would cause family members meant that not one person in Albania would publicly acknowledge same-sex attraction. Today, there are LGBT activists openly protesting the homophobic and violent remarks of governmental officials. Young LGBT Albanians are giving presentations in college classrooms and going on television talk shows, educating students and the Albanian public about the realities of their lives. Leaders of LGBT organizations are speaking out in newspapers and on television. There is widespread publicity for the [first-ever LGBT] photo exhibit.