MacDill honors LGBTQ+ service members of past, present, future

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ryan C. Grossklag
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

​In an ongoing effort to promote diversity and inclusion, Team MacDill celebrated LGBTQ+ Pride Month with a luncheon and discussion panel June 10.

Representatives and advocates of LGBTQ+ and the armed forces in the past and present spoke to attendees about their experiences and gave insight on the development of a well-rounded and inclusive total force culture.

The panel included a combination of active-duty service members and veterans, as well as leaders in the Tampa Bay community, fighting for awareness and support for the LBGTQ+ population.

“LBGTQ people are in every aspect of life, so there is no one single place where you can or should show up, it’s every day in every circumstance,” said Nathan Bruemmer, Board President and Executive of St. Pete Pride. “We have lots of places that are safe and affirming which is what we want our community to be – there’s no wrong place where you could reach out.”

The common theme among the prior service members was their shared military experience as LBGTQ+ individuals prior to the repeal of the controversial Department of Defense Directive 1304.26, commonly referred to as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The policy, in effect from 1993 to 2011, prohibited personnel from discriminating against closeted LGBTQ+ service members, while barring out persons from military service.

“I never discussed my sexuality in the Air Force because I didn’t think it was anyone’s business, it was very personal,” said Todd Richardson, the development director of Equality Florida, who had his Top Secret security clearance pulled and was assaulted after being outed by a fellow Airman. “Look at us here today, we’re sitting in a room and having this discussion, it’s fantastic.”

Executive Order 13988 signed by President Joe Biden on January 20, which repealed former President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender service members, is another step forward in enriching a more inclusive total force environment.