CRANE, Ind. – NSWC Crane hosted Master Chief Petty Officer Dwayne D. Beebe-Franqui on June 25 as the guest speaker at the Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, plus Allies (LGBTQ+A) Pride Month Luncheon. Beebe-Franqui spoke about his experience in the military while serving in the Navy under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy, which allowed LGBTQ Americans to serve in the armed forces – as long as they hid their orientation or identity from everyone.
“I loved being in the Navy,” said Beebe-Franqui. “It did more for my life than anything else. But I knew that I had to hide part of myself to stay enlisted. When I was alone, I was Dwayne. With everyone else – friends, family, the Navy – I had to be someone else.”
President Bill Clinton signed the policy into action in 1993. To many, it represented a compromise – but many more saw it as another way to ostracize and discriminate against closeted service members. The military continued to discharge thousands during the DADT policy. After 17 years, President Barack Obama ended the policy in mid-2011, ending the forced secrecy and silence for LGBTQ members of the U.S. military.
“We were delighted to hear from Master Chief Beebe-Franqui,” said Debra Jones, NSWC Crane’s LGBT+A Employee Resources Group Lead. “It was a great opportunity for the workforce to reconnect with the Warfighter, to hear about the great ways that the Navy has overcome its own challenges along the way, and to realign ourselves to strive for greatness in the way of more inclusive practices.”
Each year, the country celebrates Pride Month in remembrance of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Uprising was a series of riots and violent demonstrations between police and LGBTQ residents that became a pivotal moment in the U.S. Gay Liberation Movement. During June, pride parades, luncheons, picnics, concerts, and parties are held across the country to celebrate Pride Month. Memorial services for lives lost to HIV/AIDS are also common.
“I hope that spark from Stonewall was lit inside you today,” said Beebe-Franqui. “Maybe next time you see someone say a rude or inappropriate remark, you’ll have the courage to speak up.”
The purpose of the month is to celebrate and remember how LGBTQ individuals have influenced history. Special Emphasis Months are celebrated throughout the year, all with the purpose to show how marginalized groups have impacted history as a whole.
“Beebe-Franqui continues to play a pivotal role in advocating for the LGBTQ+ community within the DoD and ensuring that individual voices are heard and their stories are told,” said Jones. “It is through these means of storytelling and personal connection that awareness is raised for the LGBTQ+ community and we become more understood.”
Beebe-Franqui served as a cook in the Navy, working his way up to serving three presidents – all under DADT. He said he would never forget the day the policy was repealed, watching Congress cast the votes one-by-one. He now works as the Force Command Climate Specialist for the Commander at Naval Installations Command in Washington, D.C.
“I waited so long to have someone like me in the military,” said Beebe-Franqui. “Some Master Chief, some mentor that I could look up to. When I realized I could be that someone, I knew I needed to go with it.”
NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.