June 15, 2012

Gay Pride At The Pentagon Is Not An Onion Headline

That's right...I had to do a double take when this story was first forwarded to me last night. But it's true, as CNN reports that the Pentagon, less than a year after "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was rescinded, will have a Gay Pride celebration for Department of Defense employees sometime this month.  Though there are scant details about what exactly that entails, it will be similar to celebrations for Black History month where the armed forces honor soldiers and civilians who have served. One doubts there will be a circuit party headlined by Martha Wash in the building's central courtyard.

The reason I find this story even more astounding is somewhat personal as well.  In a former life, I actually worked at the Pentagon for three summers as a paid intern in the DoD's Public Affairs office. Of course, there were gay people in the press office and in the armed forces at that time....particularly in the Air Force for some reason.  But it was all incredibly hush-hush. I remember one particularly flamboyant Army sergeant one summer who everyone talked about being gay, remarkably, without actually using the word "gay"; different, particular, cut-up, and yes....queen.

In my last year at the "Puzzle Palace", Dick Cheney was Secretary of Defense and my boss. I only had a couple encounters with him and he was surprisingly nice. His press secretary was Pete Williams was rumored to be gay and that was considered beyond shocking. Now apparently people feel free enough to go on Grindr at work and celebrate Pride (btw which are NOT the same thing).  I'm sure the DoD is still not the friendliest environment for LGBT folks, but it certainly has changed a great deal since I was there. That is for sure.

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