All servicemembers deserve equality, respect

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Natalie Cheng
  • 90th Medical Operations Squadron
Pride month is an annual observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of a human rights movement. Pride month was first celebrated and founded in 1994 by Missouri high-school teacher Rodney Wilson. LGBT History Month is intended to encourage honesty and openness about being LGBT.

Coming out is a scary yet brave step forward. Harvey Milk, the first openly gay commissioner in the U.S. said, "Come out to your relatives. Come out to your friends, if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors, to your fellow workers, to the people who work where you eat and shop. Come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. All men are created equal. No matter how hard they try, they can never erase those words. That is what America is about."

Unlike many other LGBT individuals, my coming out was not planned nor was it my wish to reveal such heartbreaking news to my parents. I say heartbreaking because my mother and father had a perfect picture of their child's future and what was best for me: a college education and serving my country in the U.S. military.

After 24 years of hanging that perfect picture up of me, when I acknowledged to my parents that I was LGBT they were devastated, and to them their perfect picture of me suddenly came down and broke into pieces. The LGBT road is not an easy one and for my parents they saw their child serving her country and walking down an unpaved road that would be difficult.

According to the Williams Institute of University of California at Los Angeles, there are 70,781 lesbians, gay men and bisexuals who are currently serving in the U.S. military. LGBTs stand with others serving in the frontlines for America and support the nation with their lives. Servicemembers are the swords and shields of America, and all deserve equality and respect.

Pride month celebrates another step forward in equality, remembering those who fought for these basic human rights, and most importantly remembering what America is about -- equality and respect.