LGBT Pride Month: Airmen unfold stories behind their stripes

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ceaira Tinsley
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
(Editor's note: This is the first article in a series highlighting Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month and the unique stories of LGBT Airmen.)

Bruce Jenner took the world by storm; gracing the cover of a popular magazine and introducing the world to his true self Caitlyn Jenner.

Supporters called Jenner courageous while others scoffed, with a different definition for bravery and heroism; outraged Caitlyn could be compared to a military war hero.

The nearly 14,500 service members who were kicked out between 1993 and 2011 as a result of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy suggests that 20 years ago those opposed would be indisputably right but times have changed and the military has evolved. Revealing different sexual orientations while serving in the armed forces is becoming more common, it's not illegal and it's no longer terms for discharge.

Fast forward to the present day, where service members are entitled to openly serve without fear of punishment and the Air Force now celebrates Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month every June.

"Pride Month is no different than any other month," said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michelle Luckett, 23d Wing NCO in charge of equal opportunity complaints. "When I'm asked why we celebrate it, the question is why not? It's just like any other observance, we celebrate it to acknowledge the accomplishments a specific group of people have made to the [world and the] Air Force."

This year is Moody's first time celebrating LGBT Pride Month and the theme is "Celebrating Victories That Have Affirmed Freedom and Fairness."

Because this observance is new, some people may be leery of the unknown, said Luckett. This month is about educating everyone but especially those who don't know anything about it. They are encouraged to come to the events; they'll see and learn about pride month, where it came from and the importance of celebrating it.

Supporting and participating in Pride Month isn't only reserved for people who are themselves LGBT, but anyone can be an ally.

"I have a lot of people who are close to me who are (LGBT), and I've also been in the position to supervise people who are (LGBT)," said Tech. Sgt. Kristen Evans, 23d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron NCO in charge of administration. "I feel everybody's preference should be respected regardless of whether they fall into a certain community or not. If somebody is a lesbian they shouldn't be judged based on that [but instead] they should be able to live and work in peace (regardless of) their sexual preference."

Regardless of sharing the same sexuality every Airman's story is unique. No two are the same and it is this diversity that the Air Force recognizes and encourages among its service members.

This series will highlight a few LGBT Airmen stories and the struggles they endured along the way. One who has been a lesbian for more than a decade, still wishes to remain anonymous because her parents are clueless about her sexuality. In contrast, the series will also introduce a married couple who has made their orientation widely known and have started a family.