For the first time ever, the U.S. Military will be sending recruiters to a Gay Pride parade.
Military recruiters will set up information tables at the San Francisco Pride Parade, June 29-30. Since the 2011 repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), the atmosphere has shifted in regards to openly gay and lesbian people in the military.
With this change in culture, the military is showing their true colors by supporting the LGBT community. San Francisco Pride is famously known to be an epic celebration of the current movement, as well as of the undeniable history led by trailblazer Harvey Milk. This year, San Francisco Pride is expected to draw over a million people—military included.
“At the end of the day, we’re a community-based organization, too,” Captain Shannon Terry, public affairs officer for the California National Guard, said in a report to the San Francisco Chronicle, according to Think Progress. “So we need to look like our community.” To do so, openly gay active members will be in attendance and will be recruiting in uniform.
This year is a first of many in regards to LGBT support in the military. The U.S. Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, will be speaking on the behalf of President Obama, as the keynote speaker at the Pentagon Pride., making him the first sitting Secretary of Defense to attend such an event.
Pentagon Pride is meant to celebrate gay and lesbian service members; although Hagel has voted against LGBT issues in the past, he has made it clear that he is now a supporter.
“Secretary Hagel believes that the open service of gays and lesbians make our armed forces stronger and that this month’s DOD Pride event is just one way we honor what these service members and LGBT civilians do for our country,” said a spokesperson for the Pentagon, George Little, in a report to the Washington Blade.
Although gay and lesbian service members have been granted the choice to be openly true to themselves, transgender individuals in the military do not have that same privilege.
A former Navy Seal, after a 20-year career, came out as a transgender woman in 2013. Kristin Beck, 46, formerly known as Chris, revealed her true identity over a post on LinkedIn and then published a memoir, Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy Seal’s Journey To Coming Out Transgender.
When the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was repealed, the cultural shift was only inclusive to gay and lesbian military officials; transgender individuals were completely left out, which unfortunately has become a trending pattern.
However, when it comes to recruiting for the military, the repeal of DADT certainly opens doors for the LGB, if not T, community to join the service.