SUFFOLK, Va. – More than 200 Sailors and Department of the Navy civilian employees assigned to Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR), Naval Network Warfare Command (NETWARCOM), Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet Suffolk (FCC/C10F) and Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command (NCDOC) observed and honored Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month in Suffolk, Virginia, June 26.
Vice Adm. Brian Brown, commander, Naval Information Forces, delivered the sixth annual LGBT Pride month observance’s opening remarks and introduced the event’s guest speakers; Michael Berlucchi, Community Engagement Manager at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia and Capt. Cameron Fish, NAVIFOR’s Chaplain.
“These celebrations and commemorations remind us that sexual orientation is no impediment to intelligence, to ability, to patriotism or to service,” said Brown. “They also remind us that our differences make us stronger as a unit because we all bring different perspectives and talents to the fight. As a military, it is our distinct emphasis on diversity that allows us to become a stronger and more effective fighting force.”
LGBT Pride month is held in recognition of the Stonewall riots in Manhattan in June 1969, which are recognized as the beginning of the Gay Liberation Movement in the U.S. A Presidential Proclamation was established June 2, 2000 naming June “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month” and in June 2009, then president Obama recognized bisexual and transgender members, re-naming June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month.
“I am grateful to address so many active duty military this morning,” said Berlucchi “Without all of you fighting for our freedoms, I know I would not be to speak about LGBT Pride anywhere in America, let alone in front of this audience.”
Berlucchi was recognized by Inside Business as a Top 40 under 40 in 2015 and more recently, he was named Equality Virginia’s 2018 Outstanding Virginian.
“Hampton Roads Pride will celebrate its 30th Anniversary this Saturday at Downtown Norfolk’s Town Point Park,” said Berlucchi. “We’ve come a long way as an organization and as a community in our 30 years of celebrating Pride events. And by the way, we do know how to throw a party!”
LGBT Pride month is held annually and recognizes the importance of diversity within our society as well as the many achievements of LGBT individuals.
“I’m pleased to be part of this year’s event,” said Fish. “I have been on active duty through three key ‘eras’ in the Navy’s history. It is important to tell first-hand experiences from the past in order to more deeply understand the terrible human toll that resulted from Department of Defense policy that unfairly discriminated against otherwise qualified Sailors on the basis of sexual orientation. These stories inform the present, giving many of our younger Sailors, who have come on active duty since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, a better perspective on and appreciation for how far the Navy has come in taking pride in all who serve.”
Fish shared personal experiences of Sailors he had served with throughout his career and how good ones were lost in the years prior to 1994 and the additional struggles each one faced in coming forward; from forced discharges to “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and finally where we are today.
NAVIFOR’s mission is to provide combat-ready Information Warfare forces to operational commanders, ashore and afloat, that are forward deployable, fully trained, properly manned, capably equipped, always ready, well-maintained and combat sustainable.
For more information about NAVIFOR, visit the command's website at http://www.public.navy.mil/fltfor/navifor/Pages/Default2.aspx, Navy News webpage at http://www.navy.mil/local/navifor or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/USNavyInformationDominanceForces.