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Given the historic stigma around making, circulating, and possessing overtly homoerotic images, the visual arts have been especially important for providing a socially sanctioned arena for depicting the naked male body and suggesting homoerotic desire.
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Ambassador Baer (right) and Brian Walsh.
Congratulations to Daniel Baer, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and Brian Walsh, an agronomist and environmental economist, who wed on August 2, 2014. The couple exchanged vows in a garden ceremony at their home in Vienna, where the OSCE is headquartered.
According to a news statement, 160 family members and friends were invited to the ceremony, which was followed by a dinner hosted at the home of U.S. Ambassador to Austria Alexa Wesner and her husband Blaine Wesner. Among the guests in attendance was Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign.
As Chris Johnson reports in the Washington Blade, "Following the ceremony, Baer published a photo of him and his new spouse exchanging vows via a message from his Twitter account. In the tweet, he said "Thank you @BarackObama, @HillaryClinton, & @JohnKerry for your commitment to equality."
Prior to his nomination for the Ambassadorship in June 2013, Baer had worked on international glbtq issues as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the Department of State. A graduate of Harvard University and Oxford University, he previously taught at Georgetown University and was a faculty fellow in the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University.
On September 10, 2013, Baer was sworn in by acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Uzra Zeye in a ceremony in the Benjamin Franklin room of the State Department building. Baer was accompanied by Walsh, as well as other members of his family.
At the emotional swearing-in ceremony, Baer not only spoke about his experience working to advance human rights around the world, about how fortunate he feels to be an American, and about the importance of the OSCE, but also about his experience as a gay man.
He choked up as he recalled wondering as a high school student whether he would be able to achieve his career ambitions because of his sexual orientation.
"I remember a very sad and lonely junior and high school student in 1994 who wondered whether it was possible for him ever to be happy, and wondered whether it was worth going on," Baer said. "Certainly, he would have been shocked to see today's ceremony."
Baer has been in the news recently because of the continuing crisis in the Ukraine in which he has been the lead U.S. voice in seeking to broker peace. In an interview he gave to the Washington Blade in March of 2014, he discussed his role as an openly gay ambassador and whether it affected his ability to deal with Russia.
Baer is among eight openly gay men who have served as U.S. Ambassadors. The others are Wally Brewster (Dominican Republic), John Berry (Australia), James Costos (Spain), Rufus Gifford (Denmark), and David Huebner (New Zealand), all of whom were appointed by President Obama; James C. Hormel, who was appointed Ambassador to Luxembourg by President Bill Clinton in 1999 in a "recess appointment" after the Senate refused to act on his 1997 nomination; and Michael E. Guest, who was appointed Ambassador to Romania by President George W. Bush in 2001.
Baer is the third of these ambassadors to marry their partners in high profile weddings since being confirmed. In August 2013, John Berry married his long time partner Curtis Yee soon after being confirmed as Ambassador to Australia. On November 22, 2013, James "Wally" Brewster was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic by Vice President Joe Biden. Just a few hours later, Brewster married his long time partner, Bob J. Satawake.
On September 12, 2013, the State Department released a YouTube video in which Baer introduces himself, shares some highlights of his career, and explains the importance of OSCE. The video is remarkable for the matter-of-fact and natural way in which Baer includes Walsh and their greyhound Cleo.