editor’s note: some of this is very much directed at Air Force photojournalists, but most of this should apply to most people.
It started as a personal project, a favor to an old friend and a chance to put my newfound photojournalism skills to good use. The end goal and end product changed several times from first inception, but I’m very happy with how the final product came out.
A Japanese volunteer holds up rainbow flags for sale during the first annual Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, April 29, 2012.
Perhaps the phrase “have pride in your uniform” evokes flashbacks of basic training or a particularly exacting first sergeant, but in the spirit of National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, I think we can look at this phrase in new light.
I have to say, I’m proud of my nation, my President, my Air Force and my colleagues, for giving us the current state of LGBT rights in the United States. As a bisexual service member, being able to put on my uniform and live the core values of integrity, service and excellence to their truest meaning has instilled immeasurable pride in wearing that uniform. The past year has seen some significant changes to LGBT rights as a whole, but no change has been more pivotal to those of us serving in the armed forces than the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” last September.
I’m mildly surprised, but I only found out about this holiday a couple days ago by accident. I was never much of an activist in the LGBT community or got myself too much into the pride celebrations until this past year. I guess I was so entrenched in DADT that I didn’t let myself give in to the hope that I’d ever be allowed to celebrate that part of me. Even now, the idea seems a bit foreign.
And yet, here I am, bisexual and proud (okay, so maybe still working on the pride part, but I’m getting there). Despite the holiday being anticlimactic after the repeal of DADT less than a month ago, I have to say that the greatest thing to celebrate on this day is normalcy. The sheer fact that I’m sitting on my couch, on a military base, writing a blog about coming out on my iPad, is such a blissful form of normal that it’s hard to describe.
So here’s to normalcy, to the status quo, to the redefinition of the American dream. To my fellow LGBT servicemembers, welcome to life as it should be. To those of you still afraid to look into the mirror, or to open your true self to the world, know that there are people in this world who love you and support you and you don’t have to live in fear. Dare to live, to dream, to love, unburdened by social paradigms, and find the beauty inside your own heart.