Although Joe Biden has only been president for about a year, he has made history numerous times. Not only did he help introduce the first female to the office of the Vice President, but Kamala Harris also broke barriers by being of both Black and Indian descent. Biden also claims the title of having the first openly gay cabinet member – Pete Buttigieg – and now has sparked controversy for his ground-breaking decision to pick Sam Brinton as the deputy assistant secretary of spent fuel and waste disposition to work in the Department of Energy’s office of nuclear energy.
Although Brinton is extremely qualified for the job, some Americans are shocked that they were picked because they are the first openly gender-fluid person to hold a position in federal government leadership. In addition to being gender fluid, Brinton also performs as a drag queen during their free time away from government work.
After accepting the leadership role, Brinton expressed their knowledge that it would not be easy to be the first gender-fluid person in such high office, writing as much in a note on Microsoft’s professional networking platform, LinkedIn.
“Yes, I know it won’t be easy. Yes, I realize this is an enormous challenge. Yes, I am ready to take it on,” they wrote at the time.
Brinton graduated from MIT with master’s degrees in nuclear engineering and technology and policy programming. Since graduating, Brinton has spent years in nuclear waste management, climate change, youth mentorship, and LGBTQ activism. They have completed work for Global Zero, the Trevor Project as well as Deep Isolation.
Despite Brinton’s excessive qualifications, conservative media outlets have attempted to smear their reputation because of their outspoken LGBTQ activism and passion for life on the fringe. Some conservatives believe that Brinton’s appointment to the federal government position is a sign that America is suffering from “moral decay.”
Terry Schilling serves as the president of the American Principles Project, which is a conservative group that lobbies against the LGBTQ community. Schilling called Brinton a “complete sexual degenerate.”
Another critic named Jon Miller tweeted, “If this is what’s in charge of nuclear waste issues in the Biden Administration, it should start with itself.”
Brinton is not the first drag queen to get involved in national politics. Back in 1961, Jose Sarria, a part-time drag queen, became the first openly gay person to run for elected office anywhere in the United States. This was a decade and a half before Harvey Milk. Another drag queen named Maebe A. Girl became the first known drag queen voted into elected office as a member of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council in Los Angeles back in 2019.
Girl believes that Brinton’s appointment represents a new degree of honesty that America desperately needs.
“I was elected [while I was] being openly and authentically myself,” Girl tells Yahoo Life. “I think that has really guided me in my work. I don’t feel like I have to hide anything. I don’t feel like I have to pretend to be something that I’m not.”
What do you think about Biden’s new Department of Energy pick?