by Norine, Guest Contributor
What is Gay Pride?
Our country has come a long way from when people hid a part of themselves in order to survive. There are still many struggles gay families face on a day-to-day basis.
However, Gay Pride is the celebration of self-acceptance and “is the positive stance against discrimination and violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people to promote their self-affirmation, dignity, equality rights, increase their visibility as a social group, build community, and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance.”
Gay pride events are held in various cities throughout the year, all across the country. Local cities, states and military installations have a opportunity to bring awareness and tolerance yearly within their community by celebrating Gay Pride in June.
I think it is important to note that our president is taking proactive steps toward recognition of full equality within the gay community and announced this year,
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States do hereby proclaim June 2015 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.
June was selected as National LGBT Pride Month to commemorate the events of that month in 1969, known as the Stonewall riots—an event that lasted 3 days. The Stonewall riots turned out to be a pivotal set of events that confronted discrimination against gays and lesbians in the United States.
Why Embrace Pride?
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender are all words that describe a person. We are all human beings–no matter what our sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious beliefs or any way a person self-identifies based on their own individual viewpoint and how they interact with the world around them.
Take Rachel Dolezal, who says she identifies as a black bisexual woman, though she was born white, she inherently feels black. There is a lot of controversy surrounding her self-identification as a black woman and implicit depiction but does that make her self-identification wrong?
Or take a look at Caitlyn Jenner who recently self-identified as a woman although she was born male. All of her life she could not characteristically change who she was on the inside.
I, myself, identify as lesbian because I am attracted to women (I am happily married to my wife of almost 2 years) and this is something innately I cannot change.
Everything we know about a person and who they are is being challenged by new social norms of self-identification.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender are people just like you and deserve the same rights as everyone living in the United States of America. June is Pride Month for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, in which queers love and embrace the strides made over the years and also take a look forward at how to continue the fight for full equality.
Why Gay Pride Matters to Military Families
Gay and lesbian service members aid our country and defend our freedoms like every other soldier who swore to defend the U.S. Constitution. Frank E. Kameny, the first openly gay service member began fighting to gain recognition and rights for gays within the military in the late 1950s.
The Repeal & the Ruling
On December 22, 2010, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) Repeal Act became law. President Obama signed a repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Law,” which prohibited LGBT individuals in uniform from making their sexual orientation know. Certification occurred in July 2011 and full implementation of the Act occurred in September 2011.
The repeal of DADT was a huge victory for the gay community. Gay military families were able to embrace a life in the military without the fear of being dishonorably discharged or retaliated against. There is still a struggle for transgender soldiers going on within the military for recognition.
Another huge win for gay equally came, on August 14, 2013, when “the Department of Defense announced its plan to extend benefits to same-sex spouses of uniformed service members and Department of Defense civilian employees.” Being recognized as a spouse is one of the greatest things to happen because you can tell the world a little more about who you are without being afraid or ashamed to share.
Later that same year, “after a review of the department’s benefit policies following the Supreme Court’s ruling that Section Three of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, and in consultation with the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies, the Defense Department” made spousal and family benefits available no later than Sept. 3, 2013, regardless of sexual orientation, as long as service member-sponsors provide a valid marriage certificate.
The pure joy to know that the federal government ruling found DOMA to be unconstitutional was beyond belief. It was as almost as if a cry was heard, a cry that stated “we are humans–people of the United Stated of America and we demand to be seen and given the same rights as promised” was finally heard.
The Military & the Family
On April 28, 2014, the Pentagon “released an update to the DoD Human Goals Charter, which for the first time included language related to sexual orientation in the section dealing with the military.” This was another huge step toward full equally for all. I know many married gay and lesbian military couples feel wonderful because they are legally being recognized and gain the same benefits as all other soldiers and military spouses alike.
Also earlier this year, “effective March 27, 2015, the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, extended coverage to all legally married same-sex couples to take FMLA leave to provide care for their spouse.”
It’s important to respect all military families because behind every solider, sailor, airmen and Marine stands a committed spouse regardless of their sexual orientation.
I hope through my articles, website and Twitter account I can help others see that the LGBT community are just people like everyone else and want the same rights our Constitution promises each and every one of us.
The LGBT community is full of people who have emotions, raw feelings and who are creative, talented and wonderful. As a gay fellow human all I want is to be loved, accepted and have the same rights as everyone else. Hopefully, through progressive thinking and education more people can be open to change.
Did you attend a Pride event at your base? How do you embrace June as Pride Month?
Norine Holguin is the author of OMG Lesbian Army Wife blog on Tumblr and website creator of lesbianarmywife.com providing all military wives with resources and tips to help them on their journey as a military wife. Norine is on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.