HomeNewsCommentariesDisplay

Pride month: Be you, be proud

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea (AFNS) -- Around the world, LGBT pride is often celebrated with parties, parades, fun and festivities. The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and its allies come together in support of equality, freedom and the movement for civil rights. Nowadays, pride events are largely fun-filled, colorful, recreational functions, but what some don't know is that the first LGBT pride demonstration was inspired by a riot against discrimination. It was a forward movement in the struggle toward liberation and fair treatment.

In 1969, in New York's Greenwich Village, the police raided a gay bar, harassing and arresting many of the bar’s patrons, simply for being patrons. Being openly gay was prohibited in many places like New York City. These raids were common, but on this particular evening, the crowd fought back, leading to an intense and violent struggle between the police and the public. The confrontation, known as the Stonewall Riots, lasted for days, leading to the formation of collectives and organizations united in the fight for their right to simply exist in public spaces without being persecuted or attacked.

This struggle has existed and continues to exist within many systems, institutions and environments, including the U.S. military. After years of forced silence and hiding, LGBT service members are finally able to serve openly, thanks to the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in 2011. The policy change was a step forward in creating a safe and supportive environment for all service members to be their authentic selves as they work towards their mission.

Some have questioned the necessity or the purpose of the repeal, suggesting that one's sexual orientation or romantic life may not be important or appropriate to share in the workplace in any event. This argument would be valid if the DADT policy was enforced for all members of the U.S. military, but it only directly impacted LGBT members, implying a sense of deviance or "otherness" to members of that community. Moreover, it associated LGBT identities with shame, secrecy and dishonor, forcing these service men and women to keep parts of themselves invisible and unrecognized.

These types of practices can be very harmful, as they influence a stigma, internalized homophobia and self-hate, and various mental health issues. Though things are changing, as new policies and practices have been implemented to reverse and reduce the harm done to LGBT communities by prior discriminatory actions, considerable effort remains to encourage respect and pride for all identities.

Often, societal norms and expectations cloud our ideas of what gender, gender expression and sexuality should be, diminishing our ability to see what actually is and often leading to rude assumptions and insolence. For example, some people want or expect all men to be masculine. Some want women to be sweet and submissive. Some want the spouse of a married person to be of the opposite sex. And some want young boys to only play with trucks and actions figures. In reality, there are so many variations between gender expression and sexual orientation that it is impossible to box these identities into our own narrow limitations of what someone is supposed to do, or should be. Some women are more tough than sweet. Some young boys prefer the color pink and flowers. And some men are married to men.

The point is that there are spectrums or continuums of gender, expression and sexuality that we all fall within somewhere -- there is no "one size fits all." Moreover, no one should be shunned or discriminated against because they do not fall on the spectrum where someone else thinks they should.

We all deserve the space to be ourselves, and to be seen and celebrated. The world provides us with enough space, and hopefully our minds do too, for all identities to develop and exist without consequence or fear. Our differences are all uniquely beautiful and worthy of love. We also unite across these differences, as they allow us to learn from each other, build with one another, and create shared experiences together.

This year's LGBT pride committee encourages everyone to "Be you. Be proud," while encouraging and supporting your fellow Airmen, friends, and family members to do the same. The freedom to exist fully and authentically is a basic human right that we should all practice for ourselves and uphold for those around us. We hope everyone -- all ages, sexual orientations, genders, cultures, and other backgrounds -- will join us in practicing self-love, acceptance and freedom, while celebrating each other with pride and unity.

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @AETCommand: BIG change to the @usairforce's special warfare recruiting & initial training pipeline aimed at ensuring enlisted recruits…
This HGU-55/P helmet is fitted with a Hybrid Optical-based Inertial Tracker and day visor at Moody Air Force Base,… https://t.co/rMzsO03MLL
BRRRRRRTT The @A10DemoTeam travels the world showcasing the unique capabilities of the Thunderbolt II. The… https://t.co/giQWIwD0rA
Congratulations to @388fw and @419fw for reaching "full warfighting capability" with the F-35A Lightning II ✈️… https://t.co/5BwOupKSU7
Easy like Sunday morning. https://t.co/7Yp9fKDHnn
Congratulations to Air Force Civil Engineer Tim Sullivan, who was named the 2020 Federal Engineer of the Year! 🎉… https://t.co/tIafy8KqKs
Did you know anxiety and depression are invisible wound conditions that can affect our Airmen? They can manifest in… https://t.co/7TJn1CICbh
Airmen practice joint close air support during exercise Cope North 20 to improve combat readiness, develop integrat… https://t.co/GLpsJAlvCx
RT @inspire_af_: The @usairforce understands the importance of innovation, and @AETCommand is continuing to move towards student-centered l…
RT @AirmanMagazine: These @usairforce U-2 pilots fly at 70,000 ft, where they provide vital reconnaissance for U.S. combatant commanders.…
Spouses, family members, & caregivers are a vital part of the #AirForce family. They take care of us & we must take… https://t.co/ayzETFm5M1
The Air Force Gunsmith Shop recently released a redesigned M4 Carbine that will fit in most ejection seats. This Ai… https://t.co/f4UPJLlPxp
RT @AETCommand: Innovating in your everyday environment doesn't always lend itself to creativity! Check out the Spark Cell space at Altus…
.@USAFCENT Airmen refuel a KC-135 with a Force system in Southwest Asia. This new capability provides more efficien… https://t.co/fA2OARRUqj
RT @ArmedwScience: Civil engineering is a key part of a deployed environment. Listen as this airman explains the civil engineering capabili…
WATCH: @SecAFOfficial joins @SecArmy and @SECNAV for a discussion with @CSIS on the state of the services, defense… https://t.co/Vfk09EMBdP
Congratulations Capt Lockridge. #AimHigh https://t.co/fcJQi1vsFO
.@ABCSharkTank, anyone? The Air Force Spark Tank announced its 2020 selectees. 6 Airmen were selected to present… https://t.co/5aoPxZ2OTF
Capt Jessica Knizel was the first of 10 Air Force Aerospace Nurse Practitioners. To meet the qualifications, Kniz… https://t.co/hu2WXp8i8z