U.S. Armed Forces face controversy over Pride Month support

by mcardinal

Megan Udinski, FISM News



The United States Marine Corps and Air Force have met some controversy over how they have demonstrated their support of Pride Month this year. 

The Marine Corps tweeted their support, stating, “Throughout June, the USMC takes #Pride in recognizing and honoring the contributions of our LGBTQ service members. We remain committed to fostering an environment free from discrimination and defend the values of treating all equally, with dignity and respect.” The photo on the tweet displayed a combat helmet sporting rainbow-colored bullets held on by a black strap which read, “Proud to serve.” 

In a press release, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated, “In too many countries today, access to LGBTQI+-related information is restricted and representation of LGBTQI+ issues is censored.  Too often, Pride events themselves are banned by governments or violently disrupted by those motivated by hatred.” 

The Department of State also tweeted their support of Pride month, recognizing “the resilience and determination of the many individuals who are fighting to live freely and authentically.”

The official account also retweeted many videos and pictures of the LGBTQ flag, known as the ‘Progress Flag,’ flying high in different countries as well as the agency’s own headquarters in Washington D.C., right below the American flag.

Many in the LGBTQ community felt that the type of support given by the two organizations smacked of “rainbow-washing,” which is when companies and institutions publicly claim their support of the movement but do little to tangibly aid in increased freedoms for LGBTQ people. 

Other reactions to the post included frustration at the emphasis on different types of members, straight versus LGBTQ, instead of emphasizing unity among service members. Some users were upset at the inclusion of bullets after the slew of mass shootings that have taken place recently, while others expressed anger at the social and political agenda being pushed. 

Similarly, the Air Force received backlash after news of planning a Drag Queen Story Time event to honor Pride Month that would have taken place on the Ramstein Air Base in Germany. This type of event consists of a drag queen reading to children at the on-base library to encourage gender fluidity and inclusion.  A similar event was held the previous year but at an off-site location.

While there have been conflicting explanations as to the reason for canceling the event, it is clear that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) requested that the Air Force investigate the allegations of the upcoming event in an open letter. The letter written to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said in part, “These inappropriate events are extremely divisive at home for good reason; in all cases, they place young children in close proximity with adults who are intentionally and explicitly sexualized.”

Some complained that the senator called a drag queen reading to children dangerous, noting that just a few days prior he had refused to sign gun control legislation after the Uvalde school shooting. 

In an official statement by the 86th Airlift Wing spokesman Lt. Col. Will Powell, the reason for canceling the event was not about complaints, but rather “base leaders decided it would be better to broaden it to reflect and include the larger LGBTQ+ community, in an attempt to make it more inclusive, rather than focus exclusively on one aspect of it.”