The Queer Moments of the Biden-Harris “America the Beautiful” Video

The Queer Moments of the Biden-Harris "America the Beautiful" Video
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The Biden-Harris campaign released a new short video after their win was called Saturday. It speaks to all Americans—and includes several queer people, as well as a soundtrack by one of our queer foremothers.

Biden-Harris - America the Beautiful

The “America the Beautiful” video was inspired by the work “Art is…,” by Lorraine O’Grady, who performed the original work at the 1983 African American Day Parade in Harlem. As Culture Type explains, that piece was also included in “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” a “landmark international traveling exhibition” with art by more than 60 Black artists. The Biden-Harris campaign had begun using the slogan “Battle for the Soul of the Nation” towards the end of their campaign, and reached out to O’Grady before making the video. “The new video is also a nod to the power of Black creativity,” Culture Type tells us.

It’s also full of queerness. There’s a moment at about 1:04 where we see two men getting married. At 1:33, we see drag queen Little Miss Hot Mess, co-founder of Drag Queen Story Hour and children’s book author. And the song that plays throughout is “America the Beautiful,” rendered by Ray Charles, but written by Katharine Lee Bates, a professor and activist (1859-1929) who lived for 25 years in a “Boston marriage” with fellow professor Katharine Coman. She might not have used the term “lesbian” herself, but at the very least, she’s one of our queer foremothers. (Read more about her and a recent picture-book biography here.)

Bonus fun fact: Both Bates and O’Grady are alumnae of Wellesley College, which is also Hillary Clinton’s alma mater (and mine, as happens). That won’t change the results of the 2016 election, but feels at least like some solace.

Watch the video here:

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