YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center Yokosuka (FLCY) held a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Celebration July 12 as part of the command’s ongoing effort to recognize and foster diversity within the organization.
The celebration was organized to raise awareness and educate military, civilian service and Japanese master labor contract personnel about the many contributions of the LGBT community to the military. In addition, the event provided a venue for discussion, with a goal of encouraging tolerance, integrity and respect for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender.
In his remarks, NAVSUP FLCY Commanding Officer Capt. Frank Nevarez said diversity and inclusion are readiness imperatives.
“All of us here today have a common mission in the Indo-Pacific region that unites us," said Nevarez. "As the largest overseas forward deployed logistics center, we stand side-by-side with our fellow Navy warfighters in support the mission. Let us celebrate the progress we have made in ensuring equality for all individuals and take pride in all who serve. LGBT Americans have helped ensure that we – as a Navy – embody the values we are sworn to uphold.”
Guest speaker Aviation Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Connie Olguin, assigned to the Naval Aviation Facility Atsugi, said tolerance is not the same as acceptance.
“Tolerance, to me, is the long road to acceptance and is something that we must work towards and consciously practice every day. It takes effort,” she said. “Acceptance, on the other hand, is more like a belief that doesn’t require the effort. I would like to think that this is the goal of diversity. It doesn’t just apply to LGBT Pride celebrations, but for all observances held throughout the year.”
Olguin is also the Kanto west block leader for Stonewall Japan, which is a community organization that provides support for English-speaking lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and other sexual and gender minority people (LGBTQIA+) in Japan.
“Stonewall Japan has an on-line community group for LGBTQIA+ people living in the area," said Olguin. "It provides a safe space for people to network with others and find resources and information. said Olguin. It is 100 percent volunteer-run and managed with representatives throughout Japan.”
Stonewall takes its name from the Stonewall uprising that occurred in June 1969. Confrontations between gay rights activists and police ignited riots that served as a flash point for the gay civil rights movement and subsequent shift in perception of LGBT men and women in society. Fifty years later, Stonewall community groups thrive and provide momentum for the movement worldwide.
Pride events such as the one held in Yokosuka are an opportunity to raise awareness and celebrate the diversity of LGBT men and women in the United States (U.S.) military. In 2018, the RAND Corporation conducted a survey to determine the sexual orientation and gender identity of those who serve.
The data showed that 6.1 percent of people in the military self-identified as LGBT. Of that percentage, 0.6 percent identified as transgender. More women identified as LGBT than men and the Navy had the highest concentration of LGBT people at 9.1 percent. Nearly 80,000 service members openly identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, and anywhere from two to six thousand identify as transgender.
Chief Petty Officer Karl Crismond, the leading CPO for business operations at FLCY, provided an educational reading that touched on the history of Pride Month and described some of the early struggles for civil rights.
“The sacrifices and successes among the LGBT community continue to shape our history and remind us to uphold tolerance and justice for all,” said Crismond. “Integrity and respect are fundamental qualities of our military and civilian culture. We must continue to take pride in all the men and women who contribute to the nation and our mission. Their hard work, courage and sacrifices make them respected members of our diverse military family.”
For the past seven years, the DOD and Department of Navy have recognized the month of June as LGBT Pride Month. Initially established as “Gay and Lesbian Month” by President Bill Clinton in 2000, LGBT Pride Month recognizes the accomplishments and contributions of the LGBT community to the U.S. military and civilian sectors as well.
NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka is one of eight FLCs under Commander, NAVSUP. Headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and employing a diverse, worldwide workforce of more than 22,500 military and civilian personnel, NAVSUP's mission is to provide supplies, services, and quality-of-life support to the Navy and joint warfighter.
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