Oprah Winfrey has spoken out about LGBTQ+ rights in the US and warned that the community is “under attack” there.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony of Tennessee State University’s (TSU) class of 2023 on 6 May, the iconic talk show host and presenter urged listeners to remember that “there will never be anything in your life as fulfilling as making a difference in somebody else’s.”
“You’ve witnessed the storming of the Capitol and the death of civility,” she explained. “You’re acutely aware that voting rights are being gutted. Women’s rights are being dismantled, books are being banned, history is being rewritten. The Supreme Court is being corrupted…the LGBT+ community is under attack.”
She continued: “The leaders are behaving like children. Children are being gunned down by military-grade assault rifles. We live on a planet where there’s more than enough wrong to keep you busy trying to make things right for the rest of your natural life.”
Oprah, who attended TSU herself, also told the crowd to “start by being good to at least one other person every single day” in order to drive positive change as graduates.
More than 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced this year alone
The speech comes at a time when anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric is on the rise.
There have been more than 540 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced across 34 US states this year alone, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
The Trevor Project, the leading suicide prevention organisation for LGBTQ+ young people, recently surveyed more than 28,000 people aged 13 to 24 across the country as part of its 2023 National Survey on the Mental Health of LGBTQ+ Young People.
It found that almost one in three LGBTQ+ youth have reported poor mental health as a result of anti-LGBTQ+ policies and legislation.
Nearly two in three said that hearing about potential state or local laws banning people from discussing LGBTQ+ people at school made their mental health a lot worse.
It marks the fifth consecutive year that The Trevor Project’s data has shown that anti-LGBTQ+ victimisation contributes to higher suicide risk among LGBTQ+ youth.