Serving with Pride

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alyssa Banskton
  • 5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Every June, Pride Month offers Americans a chance to honor the contributions LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and intersex) people have made to society. The Department of the Air Force takes this opportunity to recognize and honor the noteworthy contributions made to the Air Force by LGBTQI+ service members during June.

“Pride Month is for everyone,” said Tech. Sgt. Zade Vadnais, president of the Minot Air Force Base LGBTQI+ Alliance. “It’s primarily an opportunity for the LGBTQI+ community and its allies to recognize and celebrate the progress that has been made since the Stonewall Uprising in 1969, but it’s also an opportunity for those who are unfamiliar, fearful, or misinformed about what our community stands for to see that some of their family members, friends and neighbors they interact with every day belong to the LGBTQI+ community, and hopefully they can realize we have more similarities than differences.”

The Air and Space Force is better equipped to carry out the mission with a force composed of people with various experiences, backgrounds and skill sets. With that, Pride Month allows visibility and recognition to better carry out the mission.

“The U.S. military’s strength lies in its people, and the strength of its people lies within their differences,” said Vadnais. “If everyone in the military came from the same background and we all thought, behaved, and solved problems the same way, we would not be the lethal and innovative force we are today.”

Pride Month is significant to the U.S. military considering the anti-LGBTQ+ policies that heavily impacted U.S. service members in the past.

“Pride Month observances within the military community are especially important because the right for LGBTQI+ U.S. servicemembers to serve openly was established less than 15 years ago,” said Vadnais. “There are people still serving today who began their military career under policies that forced them to lie or hide facets of their identity from coworkers, neighbors, and friends. These policies are luckily a thing of the past, and their repeal is cause for celebration.”

            This year, the Minot Air Force Base LGBTQI+ Alliance hosted several different events for Pride Month. The month was kicked off with an opening ceremony, during which commanders from the 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing signed a proclamation in support of LGBTQI+ Pride Month. They also had a presence at the City of Minot’s Pride in the Streets event downtown, put on a few community-building social events, hosted three community-focused mentoring sessions with the 5th BW command chief and other senior leaders on base and partnered with the 5th Force Support Squadron to host a color run 5K on base.

            These events were held to celebrate Pride, recognize the history, contributions and achievements of LGBTQI+ U.S. service members, familiarize people with the LGBTQI+ individuals in their community and give people a space to talk and ask questions about LGBTQI+ topics.

“When a community like Minot shows marginalized people that it cares about them, they feel respected and supported, said Vadnais. “When people feel respected and supported by their community, they pass those good vibes on to others, and the entire community grows stronger.”