In many ways, veterans were in part responsible for building our strongest LGBTQ communities across the country. After serving in WWII and Vietnam, many LGBTQ veterans chose to say close to their newfound families in port cities like San Francisco and San Diego. San Diego has the highest concentration of military personnel and in turn the highest concentration of LGBTQ military personnel in the world. This fact has meant that our region has been lucky to have LGBTQ veterans who have become activists. People like Autumn Sandeen, Bridget Wilson, Ben Gomez, Jeri Dilno, Alberto Cortez, Ben Dillingham, and so many more have worked over decades to build, shape, and push our movement and community forward.
As we approach Veterans Day this year, I ask that you take a moment to reflect on and thank our LGBTQ service members not only for their service to our nation, but what they have done for our local community and our global movement. As we fight on for the protections for our trans siblings in service, we know that the LGBTQ veterans are a key part of our Legacy of Liberation.
Fernando Lopez is the Executive Director of San Diego Pride. Lopez’s years of LGBT advocacy, nonprofit management, public education, diversity consulting, media relations, guest lectures, and organizing have made him a consistent presence ensuring the struggles of the LGBT community are ever visible.