This is the third year the Department of Defense has officially recognized June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. The 2016 theme is “Celebration.”
Between then and now, much notable advancement has been made toward LGBT equality: protection for federal workers from discrimination on the basis of gender identity, nondiscrimination protections were added for LGB troops, Family and Medical Leave Act regulations have been amended to include same-sex spouses of federal employees, marriage equality has become the law of the land, and the U.S. Army now has an openly gay man serving as Secretary.
Additionally, Defense Secretary Ash Carter has reiterated his intention to allow transgender persons to openly serve in the military.
“We do things in a careful, thoughtful manner, and I’m confident that we’re going to get to the right place,” Carter said. It is estimated that as many as 15,000 active-duty and reserve troops are transgender, with those assigned female at birth nearly three times more likely to serve than all adult women, and those assigned male at birth 1.6 times more likely to serve than all adult men.
A 2010 survey estimated that 48,500 lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals are serving on active duty or in the reserves.
With all of the movement toward full equality for LGBT troops, why is an observance like Pride necessary?
Modern Pride celebrations can be traced back to the Stonewall Rebellion in June 1969, generally considered the catalyst for the LGBT movement for civil rights in the United States. These celebrations are an opportunity to build community, share cultures, and reflect upon the victories secured in the equality movement.
Military Pride observances additionally honor the service and contributions of our LGB service members and LGBT civilians. They provide visibility of LGB senior leaders that encourages all service members to serve openly and authentically.
In President Obama’s 2015 Presidential Proclamation he stated, “During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, we celebrate the proud legacy LGBT individuals have woven into the fabric of our Nation, we honor those who have fought to perfect our Union, and we continue our work to build a society where every child grows up knowing that their country supports them, is proud of them, and has a place for them exactly as they are.”
Secretary Carter summed up this philosophy when he said, “The Department of Defense has made a lasting commitment to living the values we defend — to treating everyone equally — because we need to be a meritocracy. We have to focus relentlessly on our mission, which means the thing that matters most about a person is what they can contribute to national defense.”
Pride for everyone?
Is Pride Month an observance for just the LGBT community? No! Our LGBT colleagues are a part of our great Air Force culture, not separate from it. Together, we are a better force, equipped with the additional strength that comes from diversity.
Clarence A. Johnson, Director of the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity stated, “We recognize gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members and LGBT civilians for their dedicated service to our country; the heroic contributions made by these Americans strengthen our national security. Whether officer, enlisted, civilian employee, or family member, their inclusion gives our Department greater promise and possibility.”
Our core values of Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do guide us daily as airmen. For LGBT airmen, living openly as oneself is one of the greatest reflections of this personal commitment to integrity.
Hill pride 2016
Team Hill is celebrating Pride this year with a Pride Night on June 10 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Roy Eagle’s club. The event will feature music, dancing, a guest speaker and a cash bar; it is open to everyone. For more information, contact SSgt Sean Cea at DSN 801-777-7696.