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NEWS | June 13, 2022

PRIDE | Celebrating progress and continuing the journey

By Adrienne Burns Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility

June 1 marked the beginning of Pride Month across our nation. It is a month when our nation celebrates the contributions made by the LGBTQ+ community and the progress made on issues of equality, representation and allyship.

Pride Month is celebrated in June as a tribute to those who protested police violence against the LGBTQ+ community during New York's 1969 Stonewall Riots.

While members of the LGBTQ+ community have served in the Navy since its inception, it has only been possible to serve as openly gay since 2011, with the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

The ability to serve our country, by anyone willing and able to volunteer, was further strengthened in January 2021 when President Joe Biden issued an executive order ensuring that transgender service members would have the same ability to serve as others. "All Americans who are qualified to serve in the Armed Forces of the United States should be able to serve," Biden wrote.

The diversity of our nation's fighting force is one of its greatest strengths. Any person, regardless of gender or sexual identity, who meets the rigorous standards for military service should be welcomed and supported in the military community.

Generations of Americans fought and died in service to our nation—while also hiding their true selves in order to serve. Their sacrifices should not be carried by this generation of war fighters.

In the name of progress, the Navy has begun building and commissioning 20 John Lewis-class ships, each to be named in honor of American heroes who fought for equal rights and justice.

The first vessel with direct ties to the LGBTQ+ community, the USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO 206) was christened Nov. 7, 2021 during a ceremony in San Diego, California.

Harvey Milk was a Navy veteran and one of the first openly gay people elected to public office in 1977. Milk was elected to San Fransisco's Board of Supervisors and led the approval of a bill that outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation. Less than a year after taking office, he was assassinated by a disgruntled former city supervisor.

His legacy lives on in the fight for equity, equality and justice in the LGBTQ+ community. There is still progress to make.

To get involved in supporting the LGBTQ+ community at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facilty, contact the PRIDE Employee Resource Group at psns_imfprideerg.fct@navy.mil.