By Airman 1st Class Grace Nichols
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Team Little Rock Members celebrated Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month with an information fair June 15 at the Walters Community Support Center on Little Rock Air Force Base.
The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy was repealed September 2011, and the Defense of Marriage Act was ruled unconstitutional June 2013. Prior to these changes, service members and federal employees who were part of the LGBT community didn’t have the same rights as heterosexual marriages, such as living in base housing and medical and survivor benefits.
“The main focus of the event was to provide the base with contacts to LGBT organizations,” said Tech Sgt. Jacqueline Harris, 19th Maintenance Squadron Munitions Flight Material section chief. “A lot of people don’t know about the local organizations; our hope was to spread awareness of them.”
Representatives from the Human Rights Campaign and Central Arkansas Pride presented information for the LGBT community on getting involved with the movement and updates on LGBT current laws.
“We wanted to let the LGBT community and allies know that they do have a support system in the area,” said Airman 1st Class Brandy Preston, 19th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment technician.
The support from the Air Force community has grown for LGBT service members in the seven years since the repeal of DADT, and continues to improve their quality of life.
“I honestly never thought I’d see events and opportunities like this during my military career,” Harris said. “I thought I would retire and finally be able to be myself.”
For more information about the LGBT community and opportunities, contact the 19th Airlift Wing Military Equal Opportunity Office at 501-987-8629.