Scott Air Force Base News

‘A proud legacy’: LGBT Pride Month at Scott Air Force Base

The LGBT Pride Month 5K Color Run/Walk will take place at 3 p.m. June 16 at the AMC Parade Field at Scott.
The LGBT Pride Month 5K Color Run/Walk will take place at 3 p.m. June 16 at the AMC Parade Field at Scott.

During the month of June, the Department of Defense recognizes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, commending the service and sacrifice of LGBT Airmen, Coast Guardsmen, Marines, Sailors, Soldiers, and civilian personnel. As Scott Air Force Base looks back on 100 years of service during its Centennial Celebration, service members across the base reflects on our unique shared history, and on the importance of this month.

“The fabric of our nation and Armed Forces is stronger when everyone’s potential is unleashed to the fullest,” says Airman 1st Class Alberto Cosano, a member of the Air Mobility Command Band. “We can’t be a successful team if individuals that serve our country are banned from living by our core values, without equal rights or freedoms.”

The fabric of our nation and Armed Forces is stronger when everyone’s potential is unleashed to the fullest. We can’t be a successful team if individuals that serve our country are banned from living by our core values, without equal rights or freedoms.

Airman 1st Class Alberto Cosano, a member of the Air Mobility Command Band

A critical moment in LGBT history occurred during December 1993, when the Department of Defense issued the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” directive. The directive stated that applicants would “not be asked or required to reveal whether they were homosexual,” but it still forbade applicants from engaging in homosexual acts or making a statement that they were homosexual. During these 17 years, approximately 14,500 qualified LGBT Americans were discharged from the military.

Kathy Nix served active duty at Scott from 1980-1984, and retired from the Air National Guard in 2013. She recounts her personal experiences during this time in our history.

“I stayed in the closet as a lesbian for a long time, and just concentrated on my daily life,” she said. “I was just ignoring who I was. Occasionally, I would hear people make jokes or pretend that they were gay by talking with a lisp, thinking that’s how gay people talk. I felt humiliated; eventually I couldn’t keep it in. I became so unhappy, and I was drinking heavily.”

“Even though we have progressed our thinking so far, there are dangers still out there for our sisters/brothers in arms,” said Master Sgt. Kathleen Anderson, a co-chair head for this year’s LGBT Pride Month committee at Scott and 375th Logistics Readiness Squadron F flight superintendent. “Knowing what sources are on base for assistance such as chaplains, military one source, and First Sergeants to name a few, can assist with working to drive us towards the goal of serving in the world's greatest Air Force equally and together.”

On Sept. 20, 2011 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was finally repealed, beginning a new and greater chapter for our nation’s military. For the first time, U.S. military members had the opportunity to serve the country without compromising who they were.

“The ban was lifted during my last three years in the guard, and I was so excited, I cried,” Nix said. “I had been with my wife for over 25 years. Eventually it became legal, and like everyone else, we got the extra allowance, an ID for her, etc. For us, this made us feel equal to everyone else serving in the military.”

Please join us at 3 p.m. June 16 as we celebrate LGBT Pride Month during Scott Air Force Base’s first ever Color 5K Run/Walk. No registration is required. The event is free and open to the public.

This year’s the Pride Committee is especially proud to recognize the achievements of transgender service members, and the continued progress that our military has made towards diversity and inclusion. Effective June 20, 2016, no otherwise qualified Airman may be involuntarily separated, discharged, or denied reenlistment or continuation of service solely on the basic of their gender identity.

“Integrity first,” said Airman 1st Class Meghan Yankowskas. “Pride month is all about integrity; it’s about having strong moral ethics. My ability to be a good Wingman has absolutely no bearing on whether something is gay, a lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Especially here at Scott, I see these principles being lived out, and I’m proud to serve alongside the LGBT service members here and their allies.”

“I am so happy that the ban has been lifted on LGBT people in the military because we can serve just as well as anyone else,” Nix said. “We love our country just as anyone else. We want what everybody else wants. Accepting everyone else’s differences is how we can have a strong military. Without that we are going nowhere. Isn't that what we fight for? I wish I could have been in this current Air Force as a young enlistee.”

As Scott Air Force Base celebrates its 100th Anniversary, we look back on the progress that has been towards a better environment for all people at our instillation. We honor the service and sacrifice of LGBT service members, past and current. Our strength as a military is because of the quality and character of our people.

All servicemembers are entitled to equal opportunity in an environment free from sexual harassment and unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. In today’s Air Force, people of different moral and religious values work, live and fight together on a daily basis. This is possible because they treat each other with dignity and respect.

“Pride month is important because it shows the diversity and evolution of military culture,” said Tech. Sgt. Joshua A. Givens. “The military is a progressive body that learns and betters itself. In doing this, we ensure on of the strongest and most adaptive forces the world has ever seen.”

Even though we have progressed our thinking so far, there are dangers still out there for our sisters/brothers in arms. Knowing what sources are on base for assistance such as chaplains, military one source, and First Sergeants to name a few, can assist with working to drive us towards the goal of serving in the world's greatest Air Force equally and together.

Master Sgt. Kathleen Anderson, a co-chair head for this year’s LGBT Pride Month committee at Scott and 375th Logistics Readiness Squadron F flight superintendent

Please join us at 3 p.m. June 16 as we celebrate LGBT Pride Month during Scott Air Force Base’s first ever Color 5K Run/Walk. No registration is required. The event is free and open to the public.

Participants are encouraged to wear white clothing and sunglasses as eye protection during the run/walk. The 5K will begin at the AMC Parade Field.

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