America's First Openly Lesbian Ambassador Chantale Wong Hopes to Make Social Change
Chantale Wong made history as America’s first openly lesbian, person of color to become ambassador, a historic confirmation for the community where LGBTQ+ people of color, lesbians, and trans people are monumentally underrepresented in the foreign affairs arena, especially for top diplomatic posts.
Wong was confirmed on February 8th, 2022, with a bipartisan 66-31 vote margin. She represents as the U.S. director at the Asian Development Bank.
She shared in an interview with the Washington Blade “I’m hoping that it’s not too soon to be joined by others.”
Born in Shanghai, China, Wong aims to promote economic and social development throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Specifically, development in safeguards for gender and SOGIESC (sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and sex characteristics). More so that those groups are not only unharmed by safeguards but benefit from them as well.
“Ultimately, it’s about economic development for these countries. We’ve always had labor standards, environmental standards, social safeguards. You don’t go in and harm the people you’re trying to help.” She told Washington Blade.
Specific social development could be focused on Singapore and Brunei, two of the bank’s member countries that continue to criminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations.
“It’s a huge responsibility that I carry with me because it is the hopes and dreams those that want to be in my position, but also the issues that I will carry forward in terms of providing inclusive growth for our community in many of these countries where the community is really criminalized and targeted, and so that is going to be my burden and my responsibility to bring forth a better livelihood for those communities.” She told Washington Blade.
Wong is currently aiming for the needed LGBTQT+ specific safeguard, which the banks board will vote to either accept or reject in 2023. She is confident, however, that the U.S government will support it, as Biden administration headed an executive order that bans discrimination against federal employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity and has shown commitment to promote and protect LGBTQ+ rights abroad as part of U.S foreign policy.