Pride For All: Andersen service members celebrate diversity

U.S. Air Force Capt. Jason Gordon, 36th Medical Operation Squadron mental health specialist and Andersen Air Force Base Pride Month coordinator, holds up a picture frame featuring his husband, his family and his time in the Navy June 15, 2017, at Andersen AFB, Guam. Gordon joined the armed forces when the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell act was still enforced and got to see the change in the military after it was repealed. Gordon coordinated events to recognize Pride Month such as a color run, a paint and sip evening and a mixer and informational booth at the Freedom Fest scheduled for the end of the month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexa Ann Henderson)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Jason Gordon, 36th Medical Operation Squadron mental health specialist and Andersen Air Force Base (AFB) Pride Month coordinator, holds up a picture frame featuring his husband, his family and his time in the Navy at Andersen AFB, Guam. Gordon joined the armed forces when the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell act was still enforced and got to see the change in the military after it was repealed. Gordon coordinated events to recognize Pride Month such as a color run, a paint and sip evening and a mixer and informational booth at the Freedom Fest scheduled for the end of the month. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Alexa Ann Henderson)

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Many serving in the military today consider the person to their left and the person to their right family. We all come from diverse places and backgrounds, yet we come together to serve one purpose: maintaining security and peace in the United States of America.

This month, service members from across Andersen joined together to celebrate and recognize the Department of Defense’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender members.

Celebrated in June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of 1969, Pride Month began its annual celebration in 2012 after the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell act was repealed and LGBT service members were allowed to serve openly.

“Being in a diverse force not only represents our core values, it shows how different people from all walks of life come together and work as a synergistic whole to maintain the freedoms all of us hold so near and dear to our hearts and minds,” said Capt. Jason Gordon, 36th Medical Operation Squadron mental health specialist and 2017 DoD Pride Month Coordinator for Andersen. “Dedicating the month of June is incredibly important because civilians, veterans, military members and their families invested countless hours and sacrificed much to recognize the LGBT community of both past and present.”

Gordon previously served in the Navy while the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell act was in effect.

“I remember when I was enlisted in the Navy and I could not disclose anything about my personal life,” he said. “At that time, I was still trying to figure out who I was, what I represented and how to best fit in such an amazing force. There were days when I was thinking what in the heck did I get myself into, but I chose to experience the struggle because I wanted to serve in the world’s greatest military. As I look back, the mission was still completed. I was as dedicated to my job as I am today. I have no regrets because I held onto hope that one-day historic changes would be made.”

Andersen’s Pride Month committee held a color run, a Paint and Sip night and is slated to host a Pride social on June 30 to raise awareness and educate the local populace about the importance of Pride Month and equality for service members.

“I think it is important to recognize that no matter what uniform is worn, whether it’s the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard, you are a human being first, and then you can say I am a Soldier, Sailor, Airmen etc.,” Gordon said. “I am a firm believer that there’s strength in numbers, no matter what the branch of service, rank, male, female. We have to work together.”

For many people, Pride Month is of no consequence, however for some Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, it means everything.

“Joining the military after the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell act was repealed was interesting,” said Airman 1st Class Phillip Guadiana-Gomez, 36th Wing Public Affairs broadcast journalist. “A lot of LGBT people in the military joined when it still was in effect, and for me to have joined and be completely out and free, puts the past into perspective."

Pride Month encourages respect and equality within the armed forces. Working together for a common goal leaves our military stronger than when being held apart, said Gordon.

“To me, the collective of all humans no matter preferences or beliefs is the greatest strength and the greatest asset any organization could ever have,” Gordon said. “I am honored to be part of the greatest military in the world, and I will continue to serve with pride and professionalism in all that I do.”