A rainbow of color moved through the desert June 20 as the Edwards community showed their pride in a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender 5K fun walk/run. Runners and walkers were encouraged to dress in bright colors and the participant with the most colorful and creative outfit received a $25 Visa gift card.
LGBT Pride Month is celebrated annually in the U.S. during the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Riots in Manhattan, N.Y., a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States.
The Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village gay bar, was raided by the New York City tactical police. Though raids were not uncommon at the time, that night was the first time that the patrons decided to fight back. The violent protests that night, and in the nights to follow, are known today as the Stonewall Riots.
“This is only the second year they’ve had LGBT Pride Month established Department of Defense-wide and the first year Edwards has participated,” said Staff Sgt. Cedric Lanier, 412th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, Community Health NCO in charge. “Edwards is known for creating history. I feel it’s the right time and the perfect foundation opportunity to be a part of that legacy.”
For Airmen, LGBT Pride Month is also about celebrating the 2011 repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” allowing all Airmen to serve openly in the United States Air Force, regardless of their sexual orientation.
“When I entered the military, I served under DADT and since the repeal, the tone and vibe has been different,” said Lanier. “Learning more about what others went though, what they’ve endured, and seeing how far we’ve come together as a community, as DOD members, and as a nation, is inspiring. It’s very motivating to see the overall cultural progression – to see how it’s changing and evolving and we’re coming closer together.”
“I think that we celebrate diversity in everything else and since the Air Force got rid of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, they should embrace things like this to prove that they’re really supporting it,” said Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Keely, 412th AMDS, Force Health Management NCOIC.
From Lanier’s perspective, the transition has been “smoother” in the military because of the family-oriented structure.
Lanier is a Southern California chapter leader for OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a non-profit group focusing primarily on active duty, guard and reserve LGBT community members. His goal is to raise awareness as he works to establish an LGBT support group at Edwards.
ìEvery observance or awareness we have, serves a purpose, some form of discrimination or adversity has occurred that needs to be addressed so it isn’t repeated,” said Lanier. “The LGBT community is no different than that. I think people need to become more aware, more educated in understanding the difficulties and adversities we experience as people; only then can we move forward.”
At the run that morning, Lanier was available to answer questions and provide resources, like support groups, in the Antelope Valley.
“Being accepted for who you are openly creates a diverse atmosphere and platform within the workplace and in life in overall. The purpose of the LGBT awareness activities are to recognize what the hardships were then, celebrate where we are now, and look forward to where we are going and bringing people together in a positive manner,” said Lanier. “At the end of the day, we are all human and want the same things, love, respect, and joy.”