10 years ago, the very first call I received on my very first day working for San Diego Pride was from an active duty sailor, who along with a group of veterans and active duty service members, wanted to march in our Parade. The problem was the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) would not go into effect until a month and half after our Pride Parade. With those brave servicemembers, we gathered local activists, researched Department of Defense policy, and in a few short weeks we had our first Pride Parade contingent of LGBTQ servicemembers from every branch of the military.
San Diego has the highest concentration of military personnel in the world as well as the highest concentration of LGBTQ military personnel in the world. Folks still forget that the percentage of LGBTQ population is higher in the military than the general population. This fact is a direct result of the lack of support LGBTQ youth find in their schools and family. Often, when they are seeking a way out from abusive situations or communities, or when faced with familial rejection and homelessness, LGBTQ people seek refuge in military service.
For generations and to this day, LGBTQ servicemembers have fought for and defended this nation without fully enjoying equal protection under the law. DADT wasn’t repealed until 2011. Transgender servicemembers have been knocked around without lasting protection of their service. Federal marriage protections only took hold six years ago. It was just last year that LGBTQ employment protection was recognized by SCOTUS. LGBTQ Americans still are not fully protected under the law in housing, adoption, and public accommodation. Our work is not over. The promises of this nation that we are to be treated equally under the law are still unmet.
As we look forward to our Fourth of July weekend, to celebrate America’s independence, let us remember that our liberation is not complete; joined in our pursuits must be indigenous, two-spirit communities, women, racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, the disabled community, seniors, youth, and the unhoused.
I hope you all find time for happiness and joy this weekend and that you reflect and recommit yourselves to fighting for a day when we reach those unmet promises together. Together, we are Resilient.