June is Pride Month

June's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pride month celebrations are relatively new to the Department of Defense but the history of LGBT service members' fight to openly serve in the armed forces is a long and proud one. (U.S. Air Force Graphic/ Senior Airman Shelby Kay-Fantozzi

June's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pride month celebrations are relatively new to the Department of Defense but the history of LGBT service members' fight to openly serve in the armed forces is a long and proud one. (U.S. Air Force Graphic/ Senior Airman Shelby Kay-Fantozzi

Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England -- When you look at a calendar from the United States, it’s easy to notice that there are several months that celebrate certain demographics. Most of them focus on celebrating their history and culture, but if you look deep enough and read between the lines; the hidden theme focuses on rising above a history of a painful pasts consisting of rejection, discrimination, and ostracism. As Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Americans, we are placed in an interesting point in history because our story is one of the most current struggles, and it’s still ongoing.

Society at large has made enormous strides towards equality for the LGBT population within the last decade. Imagine ten years ago, having this article published through Air Force channels would’ve not just be blasphemous, but criminal. Thankfully, that is very much a part of the past; something that we, as a Force, have looked over, evaluated, and improved. Unfortunately, in other parts of the world, that is not the case. There are several countries out there that offer no laws to protect the LGBT population from discrimination, and any attempt to celebrate ‘Pride’ month is met with adamant opposition.

There are people out there who wonder why we have ‘Pride’ month in the first place. They think that we celebrate it just because we’re Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgender, and complain that it’s unnecessary or unfair because people who identify as heterosexual don’t have a month to celebrate their heterosexuality. What they fail to understand is that along with celebrating who we are, we also celebrate the fact that we can exist without the fear of prosecution.

On the night of June 12, 2016, America witnessed its worst mass shooting in history at an LGBT club in Orlando, Florida. This unfortunate event gives this years’ Pride a juxtaposition of mourning the lives tragically lost that night while still trying to find a way to celebrate. This blatant act of terror has shaken up our community nationwide, but we can take solace in the fact that people from all backgrounds have banded together to give support to those affected. We do not know what the perpetrators’ motive was, but one thing we know is that this brings us closer together; and they will not shoot down our pride.