200 Out US Servicemembers March in San Diego Pride Parade

Making history, 200 LGBT servicemembers — reserve, active duty, and veterans alike — marched openly in the San Diego Pride Parade yesterday. This marks the first time in America a contingent of serving military members participated openly in a gay pride event.

As you can see in the video, the Honoring Servicemembers contingent of 200 military men and women from all branches of the US military received almost universal approval and recognition from the crowd of San Diegans out on yet another lovely parade day (one does wonder why San Diego doesn’t simply have parades every single day, looking at that weather).

“This is a dream come true,” retired Marine Capt. Kristen Kavanaugh told CNN. “It’s the beginning of something where we can be proud about who we are and about the job that we’re doing to help this nation.”

“This is one of the proudest days in my life. It’s time for it (the policy) to be gone,” National Guard member Nichole Herrera told NPR. “I’m a soldier no matter what, regardless of my sexual orientation.”

San Diego Pride says this is the first time in its history, and believed to be in the history of Pride anywhere, a contingent of active duty service members and veterans.

Of course, the “all deliberate speed” with which DADT is being certificated for repeal made for some compromises regarding those handsome uniforms and caught others across the country off-guard:

After Pride announced the military group’s participation, and after local media picked up the story (including the San Diego LGBT Weekly), interest spread across the country. Sala said response was amazing and that he received “many e-mails from service members and (had) conversations with veterans who tell me that they never expected to see this in a Pride parade in their lifetime, and they think this is pretty amazing,” Sala said before the parade. “It’s a huge reference that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has caused so much pain and such a stereotype, and it’s finally time that America is moving on. It’s a sign that the social norm in America is moving toward more acceptance of the LGBT community.”

With DADT still being debated, the marchers following all appropriate military protocols, Sala said. For example, they did not march in formation and did not wear any uniforms. Instead, the service members wore T-shirts representing their respective branch.

Let’s hope next year every Pride parade, all across America, has some snappy formations and drills from in-uniform active duty, reservists, and veterans. Just keep the dang Blue Angels in the hangars, please!

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