Love these stories about the military and Pride. 🙂
SAN DIEGO, CA, UNITED STATES
SAN DIEGO — Sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) celebrated Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month with an observance hosted by the ship’s Diversity Committee, June 19.
During the event, themed “Pride in All Who Serve,” Sailors and Marines recognized the accomplishments of the LGBT community and its contributions to the Navy.
Commanding Officer Capt. Mark Melson delivered the opening remarks.
“Pride Month shows the importance of diversity in our Navy, and how that diversity makes us stronger,” said Melson. “If you or your shipmates can’t serve while being genuine to yourself and who you are at your core, then it makes it hard to be an effective Sailor and war-fighter.”
The guest of honor, Command Master Chief (ret.) Kathy Hansen, spoke about her experiences in the Navy as a member of the LGBT community.
“I never thought I’d be able to talk to you today about LGBT pride, marry the person I love and actively serve in our military while being openly gay,” said Hansen. “There were a number of people discharged during my time simply for who they chose to love.”
Members of the ship’s Gay, Lesbian and Supporting Sailors (GLASS) association shared their personal experiences with the audience and discussed historical facts of the Pride movement.
“It has been so incredibly humbling to be a part of GLASS and serve as its president, watching it grow from a small group of five people to over 40 members,” said Fire Controlman 2nd Class Rachel Koons, from State College, Penn. “Pride is about celebrating who you are and who you love. It’s amazing to live in a time where people can celebrate who they are and have the opportunity to serve their country as an openly gay person.”
Prohibitions for members of the LGBT community to serve in the military ended September 2011, after Congress voted to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
After taking the crew through her career during “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Hansen left the audience with a final word of advice.
“Who you love doesn’t define the leader you will be,” said Hansen. “You should be true to yourself and okay with who you are no matter who you love. We, as a Navy and as human beings, should always treat everyone with dignity and respect regardless of age, race or sexual orientation.”