MacDill celebrates LGBT Pride month

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- MacDill’s Pride Month Committee hosted a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Pride Luncheon at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, June 15.

The luncheon contained a panel of LGBT members who shared their personal stories and answered questions.

“We are celebrating the LGBT community, their achievements and contributions to the Department of Defense, and our mission,” said 2nd Lt. Magdalena Torres, the base support flight officer in charge assigned to the 6th Contracting Squadron. “This year is especially important as we celebrate the inclusion of transgender service members.”

According to Torres, the Pride Committee had a surprising amount of individuals emailing to ask what Pride Month is. It is the committee’s goal to educate those who do not know the importance and reason behind this observance month, which is to recognize the impact LGBT service members and civilians have on our nation.

“Diversity and inclusion are imperative to the success of the mission, and we are coming together as a wing to celebrate the LGBT community,” said Torres.

What was originally known as “Gay Pride Day,” the last Sunday of June, grew to encompass an entire month-long series of events that is now recognized as Pride Month.

This year, the MacDill Pride Committee’s theme is “Celebration.”
Pride is celebrated during the month of June in honor of the Stonewall riots in New York City, which took place June 28, 1969. These riots are considered the pivotal event that began the gay rights movement in the United States.

“Throughout my career, I’ve heard all kinds of discriminatory terms and phrases aimed at the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender family,” said Staff Sgt. Corey Matera, NCO in charge of flightline protocol assigned to the 6th Air Mobility Wing Protocol Office. “I am a person that likes to be liked, and it scares me to think that someone wouldn’t like me because of my sexual orientation.”

Matera enlisted nine years ago while “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was in full effect.

“I remember being afraid to be who I was because of repercussions,” said Matera. “Now that it has been a while, I am comfortable with being my true self and it makes me so proud that my husband was able to join the Air Force and not have to deal with the same hardships I had to endure.

“The best part about being on the Pride Committee is feeling like part of a team that supports LGBT,” said Matera. “It is nice to be around individuals who are there to promote a positive and celebratory image of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders.”