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

Nathan Bruemmer, Board President and Executive of St. Pete Pride, speaks at an LGBTQ+ Pride Month luncheon at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, June 10, 2021.

Nathan Bruemmer, Board President and Executive of St. Pete Pride, speaks at an LGBTQ+ Pride Month luncheon at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, June 10, 2021. Bruemmer, a transgender man, was separated from the Army National Guard under Department of Defense Directive 1304.26 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” policies and now works as an LGBTQ+ consultant, educator and advocate in the Tampa Bay area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan C. Grossklag)

U.S. Air Force Col. Benjamin Jonsson, 6th Air Refueling Wing commander, delivers opening remarks at an LGBTQ+ Pride Month luncheon at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, June 10, 2021.

U.S. Air Force Col. Benjamin Jonsson, 6th Air Refueling Wing commander, delivers opening remarks at an LGBTQ+ Pride Month luncheon at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, June 10, 2021. The luncheon invited a panel of active and prior service members and community partners to discuss their experiences and their insight to the developing inclusive landscape. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan C. Grossklag)

A Rainbow Pride flag is displayed at an LGBTQ+ Pride Month luncheon at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, June 10, 2021.

A Rainbow Pride flag is displayed at an LGBTQ+ Pride Month luncheon at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, June 10, 2021. The flag is a common symbol used to represent all encompassing members across the LGBTQ+ spectrum. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan C. Grossklag)

Discussion panel members are introduced at an LGBTQ+ Pride Month luncheon at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, June 10, 2021.

Discussion panel members are introduced at an LGBTQ+ Pride Month luncheon at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, June 10, 2021. The panel was organized to create an open discussion between them and event attendants on the experiences of LGBTQ+ service members of the past, present. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan C. Grossklag)

Discussion panel members, volunteers and U.S. Air Force Col. Benjamin Jonsson, 6th Air Refueling Wing commander, gather for a photo at an LGBTQ+ Pride Month luncheon at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, June 10, 2021.

Discussion panel members, volunteers and U.S. Air Force Col. Benjamin Jonsson, 6th Air Refueling Wing commander, gather for a photo at an LGBTQ+ Pride Month luncheon at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, June 10, 2021. Panel members fielded questions from attendees on the experiences and insights of LGBTQ+ service members and advocates on influencing a more inclusive total force culture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan C. Grossklag)

Panel members gather for a photo at an LGBTQ+ Pride Month luncheon at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, June 10, 2021.

Panel members gather for a photo at an LGBTQ+ Pride Month luncheon at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, June 10, 2021. Team MacDill organized the panel to promote diversity and inclusion and discuss their personal experiences and insights on growing a more accepting total force culture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan C. Grossklag)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

​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.