Nearly six years after the U.S. military ended its “don’t ask, don’t tell,” policy for gay service members, an Air National Guardsman has cemented another milestone for LGBTQ members of the military.
Nathaniel Boehme, an Air National Guardsman, became the first openly gay, active-duty, serviceman to march in uniform at Seattle’s pride parade on Sunday. Despite the military’s effort to promote equality in its ranks, Boehme’s request to march in uniform was expectedly difficult.
According to local Seattle news network K5, Boehme waited three years before receiving a letter from a Lieutenant General at the Pentagon sanctioning his petition.
Boehme, who is stationed in Portland, OR, told K5 that the approval was especially emotional because he had served when “don’t ask, don’t tell,” was policy. “I honestly cried a little bit. I teared up,” Boehme told K5. “For me personally, again, as a gay service member, it’s really monumental because it means that we are working toward a military and a community that’s more inclusive and recognizes all people’s contributions to the service of this nation no matter what.”
Ostensibly speaking, the U.S. military still has lightyears to go before members of the LGBTQ community can comfortably serve, or serve at all. Even though the military lifted its ban on transgender people serving openly, current military leaders are attempting to delay a July 1 deadline that would allow transgender people to enlist.