June is Pride Month, with companies and organizations taking to numerous platforms to observe and celebrate LGBTQI+ staff and personnel. That celebration is no different for some service members.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — the 1994 policy that prevented military members from disclosing their sexualities — was repealed in September 2011, marking the end of 18 years of silence. As a result, veteran members of the LGBTQI+ community have since come out, freely and fully embracing who they are, in and out of uniform, without repercussions from the Defense Department.
This year, the National Guard Bureau decided to highlight LGBTQI+ service members and their stories through a photo series celebrating members of these communities.
“It doesn’t matter if we’re flying sorties in the Middle East, or filling sandbags in the Midwest — our success depends on our strength as a team and our ability to work together,” Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson and Senior Enlisted Advisor Tony L. Whitehead wrote in a statement to Military Times.
“Our success depends on our people.”
Hokanson and Whitehead added that a display of pride among the ranks in the wake of the DADT repeal signifies not only honesty, integrity and diversity, but also the notion that who a person loves has “no bearing on their ability to serve our Nation.”
“We stand in solidarity with our LGBTQI+ service members, and commit to an organization built on inclusion and dignity for all,” they wrote.
“It’s what it means to serve with pride.”