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What Pride Month means to me

“For more than two centuries, our Nation has struggled to transform the ideals of liberty and equality from founding promise into lasting reality. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans and their allies have been hard at work on the next great chapter of that history -- from the patrons of The Stonewall Inn who sparked a movement to service members who can finally be honest about who they love to brave young people who come out and speak out every day.” – Barack Obama, Presidential Proclamation.

(U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. --

In 2013 former President Barack Obama signed a proclamation designating the month of June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.  I know for some people this isn’t a big thing, or something to celebrate at all. However, for someone who has gone through that journey of discovery, this was a win for national recognition and validity.

 

“For more than two centuries, our Nation has struggled to transform the ideals of liberty and equality from founding promise into lasting reality. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans and their allies have been hard at work on the next great chapter of that history -- from the patrons of The Stonewall Inn who sparked a movement to service members who can finally be honest about who they love to brave young people who come out and speak out every day.” – Barack Obama, Presidential Proclamation.

 

In the LGBT community over the years you may have noticed a Q added to the tail end; this stands for Queer.  Some people may be offended, but many people fit into this category. If you have ever felt like the odd one, the spectator, or just marched to your own drum beat at some point in your life, you are celebrated and a part of a community that is all-inclusive.

           

During the first pride month proclamation I felt fear. Not because I wasn’t proud of who I was, but fear of how the world would see me. At Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, I led the first-ever pride month celebration. That first morning I woke up to see how other bases were received, some with acceptance and embracing while others were met with protestors. I remember my mom telling me that morning, “You are who you are and your family stands behind you. You do not need to fear anyone.”

 

This gave me the courage to educate the base community about the LGBTQ struggles of why we are here and celebrating our past, the present, and our future. From that day onwards, I have never held back who I am, who I love, and who I hope to be as a leader and friend.

           

Arriving in the United States and moving to Cheyenne, I was apprehensive about how I would be received, since I had become so open and accepted by my former community.  Much to my surprise, Wyoming has a community where equality and LGBTQ members are celebrated throughout the year, ranging from monthly meetings and community outreach venues to the annual drag queen bingo events.

 

This highlighted that pride was not limited to one month, but is practiced each and every day by dedicated individuals, contributing to the strength of the community as a whole. This strength and the acceptance of values is something that the Cheyenne community should be proud of.