ACC observes Pride Month

  • Published
  • By Capt. Laura Hayden
  • Air Combat Command Public Affairs

Air Combat Command is proud to join the nation to observe Pride Month in recognition of the vital contributions of our LGBTQ+ Airmen to the U.S. Air Force. 

The United States recognizes June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall riots of 1969. The riots were a series of demonstrations by members of the LGBT community and were prompted by a raid of the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan, New York. The patrons of Stonewall and surrounding lesbian and gay bars fought back when the raid became violent. The event sparked an international gay rights movement.

LGBTQ+ Airmen have dedicated themselves to the defense of our country throughout history. We are a stronger and more capable force due to their commitment; their courage and sacrifice alongside their fellow Airmen continues to enhance the inclusivity and diversity of our Air Force family. 

From the Revolutionary War until 2011, LGBTQ+ military members were forced to hide their sexual orientation or face being court martialed, dishonorably discharged, and imprisoned. Today the Department of Defense continues to strive for equal rights and inclusivity of all Airmen.

  • During World War II, induction into the military included a psychiatric evaluation which included homosexuality as a disqualifying attribute. In wartime, members suspected of homosexuality were more commonly given a “blue discharge”, this was an administrative discharge without honors or other than honorable. These members were denied VA benefits.
  • In 1960, a blanket ban barred transgender from enlisting and serving in the military, the ban lasted for 56 years.
  • In 1975, TSgt Leonard Philip Malovich appeared on the cover of Time Magazine. Malovich was a Vietnam veteran who received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star medals. He came out while on active duty to fight the military’s ban on gays. The publicity his story brought to the movement was a major turning point. 
  • On December 21, 1993, a Department of Defense directive known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” or DADT policy, the policy prohibited the U.S. military from discriminating and harassing LGBT service members or applicants based on sexual orientation, while barring members from serving openly. 
  • On June 2, 2000, President Bill Clinton officially declared June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. The name was updated in 2009 by President Barrack Obama to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month to be inclusive of the community.
  • On December 22, 2010, President Barrack Obama signed the DADT Repeal Act into law and it was fully implemented in September 2011. LGB military members could then serve openly with honor and integrity.
  • In May 2012, SSgt Anthony Loverde became the first gay Airman to return to active duty after being discharged under DADT policy. He had been discharged 4 years earlier after telling his commander he was gay.
  • On March 27, 2015, the Family and Medical Leave Act extended coverage to all legally married same-sex couples allowing time off to provide care for a spouse.
  • On June 30, 2016, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that after a year-long study of 18 allied forces the DoD would be immediately lifting the ban on transgender individuals serving openly on active duty. 
  • In January 2019, the Supreme Court allowed a ban of transgender military members to go into effect, the ban was ordered through a memorandum the previous year. 
  • On January 25, 2021, President Joe Biden repealed the ban through executive order. 
  • On June 1, 2021, President Joe Biden proclaimed the month to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) Pride Month.