Shirt with SOFIAS (fa'afafine) logo

Shirt with SOFIAS (fa'afafine) logo

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David Huebner, born May 7, 1960 in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, served as the United States Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa from December 2009 to January 2014. Originally from Pennsylvania, Huebner attended Princeton University and Yale Law School. After working for various private international law firms (including Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP), he was nominated for an ambassador position by President Obama in 2008. In addition to practicing international law and being a public servant, he has also taught courses on international arbitration and intellectual property at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law. He now works for a private firm, Arnold & Porter LLP, in Los Angeles, handling cases on international disputes, trade, and investment matters. As an ambassador, much of Huebner’s work focused on youth outreach, inspiring next-generation leaders, and encouraging scholarship. He also turned to new means of communication and was praised for his use of social media to voice his initiatives.
Huebner is the third openly gay ambassador in US history (the first knowingly confirmed by the Senate) and is an advocate for LGBTQ issues. An active member of the LGBTQ community, Huebner served as a leader in the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and a board member for the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center. He and his partner, psychiatrist Duane McWaine, have also donated their diplomatic passports to the NMAH Archives Center.
Throughout his time in New Zealand and Samoa, Huebner interacted with The Society of Fa’afafine in American Samoa (SOFIAS). In Samoa, the fa’afafine are a third-gender people, typically embodying both traditionally masculine and feminine traits (fa’afafine are often compared to the Western notion of transgender). Fa’afafine has been recognized as an identity since the early twentieth century and has become a fundamental part of Samoan culture. The SOFIAS is a non-profit organization that works with fa’afafine, the LGBTI community, and broader society of Samoa, American Samoa, and the Pacific Island region to “build relationships grounded in the Samoan values, promote a positive attitude towards the Samoan fa’afafine community, empower people, protect the environment, and foster respect for cultural diversity in our community,” as stated on their website. Additional attention is given to balancing Samoan heritage and western influences.
This red shirt, decorated with the SOFIAS logo, was presented to Ambassador Huebner during a meeting with the SOFIAS board of directors in Pago Pago in 2011 or 2012. It is a member’s shirt for the SOFIAS, according to Ambassador Huebner, who was made an honorary member after engaging with the SOFIAS during his tenure abroad. The emblem, which reads “Ia Ola Malamalama I Lou Fa’asinomaga,” translates to “Be of Virtue and Pride in Your Identity” and is the slogan for the SOFIAS. Smithsonian photographers captured the signing of the Deed of Gift during a ceremony at the National Museum of American History on August 19, 2014.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Physical Description
fabric (overall material)
rayon (overall material)
overall: 31 in x 25 in; 78.74 cm x 63.5 cm
part: folded: 16 1/2 in x 14 1/2 in; 41.91 cm x 36.83 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Ambassador David Huebner
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Medicine and Science: Medicine
Health & Medicine
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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