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Serving together with Pride

Two men, a dog, and a baby stand against a white bannister railing.

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Two men smile while on a boat.

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Two men smile in a conference room.

Courtesy Photo

STUTTGART, Germany -- There is a message that has emerged from Pride this year that has connected with people. It is a poignant thought for us to remember as Airmen serving with each other in our Nation’s defense. 

This message is a reminder to all of us that events supporting the LGBTQ+ community in the month of June are not celebrations of one person over another, but a reminder that we walk together with pride, with our heads held high, leaving shame, self-doubt, and isolation behind. 

I remember those last three feelings all too well, as many who served under the long-standing policy of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”  For my husband and I, who I met on active duty, serving then meant coming to work, deploying to war zones, and walking through the door every day knowing we were standing over a trap door that could give way and end our time in the military at any moment. 

We knew any call or any prompting to go to the commander’s office could end in a discharge, as it did for many of our colleagues.  We hid, we isolated, and kept those closest to us separate from our military life. As a result, we had no one to hold on to when the trap door opened or when so many other faults in the earth we stood above started to rumble and widen. 

We are happy that Airmen serving in today’s military have the choice not to serve in silence.  Having that freedom opens up the most powerful part of resiliency we have, each other.  No matter what challenge you are going through, or the fault lines you walk above, you have an Airman on each side of you who knows you and is ready to reach out and grab your arm when you feel like you are going to slip and fall.

Of the many things that have changed in the near decade that DADT has been repealed, and the 51 years since 1970 when the first Pride march was held, we can walk with our heads held high, shame and dishonor left far behind, and know that we are stronger together.

Thank you to the supervisors, superintendents, and leaders who take time to recognize your LGBTQ+ Airmen and get to know the people they hold dear.  You will be someone they can trust when challenges come their way, and they will be there for you when you need it most.