YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka’s (CFAY) Multi-Cultural Committee hosted a 2019 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month observance, June 25.
Yeoman Seaman Apprentice Marcus Evans started the observance by welcoming everyone. He explained how each speaker at the observance would talk about how the individual letters that make up ‘LGBT’ represent the various groups within the community, and the milestones that were achieved by individual service members within each group.
“We are not here today to dwell upon the past injustices and inequalities, but to share the pride we have and where we are in the direction of an even greater future of inclusion for all,” said Evans. “Let us celebrate the achievements of military members of the LGBT(+) community.”
Various colors of masks were brought to the stage by individual CFAY Sailors representing the different members of the LGBT community and to illustrate the fact that LGBT service members no longer needed to hide behind a mask.
Operations Specialist Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyron Ore was the first to come to the podium carrying a mask that was painted blue, and spoke about the ‘L’ in LGBT representing lesbian women. He told the story of the first lesbian females who served in the military that were discharged for homosexuality to only have their cases later overturned.
Boatswain’s Mate Petty Officer 2nd Class Trenton Littlegeorge was next with a green mask to talk about the letter ‘G’ for gay as an ‘umbrella’ term to represent gay males and lesbian females. He mentioned the success of a senior military gay man overcoming many obstacles.
Master-at-Arms Petty Officer 1st Class Alexander Victor, CFAY Multi-Cultural Committee president, brought an orange mask to the stage and spoke about the ‘B’ in LGBT. He described bisexuals who were willing to serve and make sacrifices for the country in Vietnam and Iraq wars.
Operations Specialist Petty Officer 2nd Class Alexandria White held up a purple mask as she spoke about the ‘T’ and transgender individuals in the military. She talked about an Army transgender female and quoted the individual with the following: “my initial reason for serving, though I love my country and always have, was not patriotism…but it’s certainly why I stayed.”
The final speaker was Master-at-Arms Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Tijerina, who joined the Navy in 2013, and spoke about her personal experiences as a member of the LGBT community.
“My story is one that is heard all of the time,” said Tijerina. “I come from a family that disapproved, and still disapproves, of my sexuality and life choices.”
She talked about her difficulties when she first came into the service due to people making rude comments to her or not wanting to work with her.
“I got comments from co-workers that they were brought up to believe certain things about the LGBT community, but working with me had changed their perspective,” she said.
Tijerina also mentioned that nearly 80,000 service members openly identify as being lesbian, gay or bisexual, and anywhere from two to six thousand identify as transgender. “Let’s take this time to celebrate where we have been and where we are now,” she said. “We no longer have to hide behind the mask.”
“I can proudly say that I, myself, have experienced a shift in the way the people of the community are treated and looked at,” Tijerina added. “Now when I walk into work, instead of being that gay female with the short hair, I’m just MA2 TJ.”
CFAY provides, maintains, and operates base facilities and services in support of 7th Fleet's forward-deployed naval forces, 71 tenant commands, and 27,000 military and civilian personnel and their families.
For more news from Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, visit www.navy.mil/local/cfay/.