My favorite Biden diplomatic appointment is U.S. Ambassador to Hungary David Pressman. A gay human rights lawyer who brought his husband and children to his post in Budapest, Pressman’s appointment is, as described by Politico, “an implicit rebuke of Orbán’s strongman, culture wars agenda.” Pressman is famous for trolling the Hungarian government’s anti-LGBTQ agenda on social media sites.
The newspapers cover him regularly — “Clown diplomacy,” one declared. State-owned and Orbán-friendly TV channels are similarly obsessed, portraying the American ambassador as a secretive colonial overlord sent to meddle in Hungary’s internal affairs.
And in a country that recently banned the portrayal of LGBTQ+ content to minors, Pressman has put his personal life on display, posting photos of his partner and their two kids as they arrived to present his diplomatic credentials.
“I think it speaks for itself,” Pressman said. “Sometimes the power of example,” he added, “is the most powerful way we can communicate about shared values and concerns.”
This week, Pressman is throwing a massive party at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest to mark the end of Budapest Pride:
“Candidly, we’ve been pretty overwhelmed by the interest in participation from Hungarian LGBT families and their allies—and I expect about 1,000 people there, making it what we’re told will be the largest event of its kind in history in Hungary,” Pressman told The Daily Beast. “And I think now’s a really important moment for the United States and the international community writ large to stand with this community that is increasingly being used in a divisive and political way that is in tension with the commitments this government has made to upholding international human rights…”
Despite the personal attacks, he’s not taking criticisms of his actions personally. “This is really not about me, and it’s never been about me,” he said. “It’s about the United States’ longstanding commitment and President Biden’s personal commitment to stand up proudly and strongly for the fundamental human rights of all people everywhere, including LGBT people—including LGBT people in Hungary.”
Pressman invited Orbán government officials but doesn’t really expect them to show. Maybe in Biden’s second term, he could appoint Pressman as ambassador to Florida.