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Supporting diversity and equality

Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Month has been celebrated every June since 1970 after the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, when police raided the Stonewall Inn. The purpose was not to elevate one community over the other; it was merely to provide a place to be one’s most loud, proud, and free self. (Courtesy photo)

Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Pride Month has been celebrated every June since 1970 after the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York, when police raided the Stonewall Inn. The purpose was not to elevate one community over the other; it was merely to provide a place to be one’s most loud, proud, and free self. (Courtesy photo)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

Stonewall Inn, Greenwich Village, Manhattan, the location where, in 1969, individuals from diverse backgrounds took a stand for their belief that everyone should be able to love whomever they wanted. This is the reason the month of June was chosen to raise awareness and support the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender community.

“I firmly believe that calling it a ‘lifestyle’ is extremely problematic,” said civilian contractor, Dominique Barnes. “This is not the way I choose to live my life. This is my life.”

Before 2011, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy caused many service members to hide their sexual preferences. The Defense Department Directive 1304.26, issued in 1993, prohibited military personnel from discriminating against or harassing “closeted” homosexual or bisexual service members or applicants, but it also barred openly gay, lesbian or bisexual persons from military service. The result, keep it a secret, or risk discharge.

“The good thing is that as members of the community, we get a month to celebrate being ourselves,” said Barnes. “The not so good thing is that the awareness part of the observance isn’t terribly emphasized, and as the marginalized group, it’s difficult to find the balance between educating the masses and being seen as obnoxious and further pushing our agenda.”

The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010 was enacted, and in September 2011, the original policy ended, allowing gay and bisexual service members to be open and serve without fear of punishment.

“The Air Force is not saying to change your beliefs,” said Tech. Sgt. Elizabeth Aguilar, 17th Training Wing Equal Opportunity noncommissioned officer in charge. “They are saying to be respectful and treat others with dignity.”

Tech. Sgt. Traci Lara, 17th TRW Equal Opportunity advisor, observed that over time, the military has been more and more accepting of the different types of lives many service members live.

“Yes, there will always be naysayers,” said Lara. “But there are naysayers in everything. Over time there has been less and less. This has allowed individuals to be open and truly themselves, without fearing job security, and that takes away some of the uncertainty.”

In conjunction with LGBT Pride Month, there are several events happening in June:

June 16, 5 p.m., Improv Night at the Event Center

June 16, 7 p.m., Pool Party at the McGarr Pool

June 22, 6 p.m., Discussion Panel at the Event Center

June 22, 7 p.m., Trivia Night at the Event Center

June 30, 7 a.m., Pride Stride 5k at Kirby Park, 1401 Edmund Blvd.

For more information regarding these events contact Airman 1st Class Mary Hagelin at 425-343-2576.