NAVAL INFORMATION FORCES, SUFFOLK, Va. – Sailors and Department of the Navy civilian employees assigned to Naval Information Forces (NAVIFOR), Naval Network Warfare Command (NAVNETWARCOM), Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet, Suffolk and Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command (NCDOC) came together for an observance in honor and support of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, June 22.
Capt. Sean Heritage, commanding officer, NCDOC, delivered the fifth annual LGBT Pride month observance’s opening remarks and introduced the guest speakers.
There was a moment of silence during the ceremony to honor seven Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) who recently passed away during a collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal while operating about 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.
“Different ages, rates, ranks, ethnicities, different parts of our counties and a common commitment no different than any of ours when we joined the greatest Navy the world has seen,” said Heritage. “Many of our teammates are also members of the LGBT community some of those we lost onboard Fitzgerald may have been. Today we pause to acknowledge some of many contributions and sacrifices made by great leaders who proudly serve our nation whether it is in uniform, private or public sectors while also identifying as LGBT members.”
LGBT Pride month was established by Presidential Proclamation in 2000 to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, and to establish a commitment of achieving equal justice under the law for LGBT Americans.
“I feel comfortable talking to my brothers and sisters in arms about who I am but still not ready to talk about this with my family at home,” said an officer attached to NAVIFOR. “There are a lot of shipmates like myself who may not be struggling at work with this, but at home they are, and if you come across someone like that, take a moment and put yourself in their shoes to listen to them.”
LGBT Pride month is held annually and recognizes the importance of diversity within our society as well as the many achievements of LGBT individuals.
Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Thomas Adams attached to NCDOC, served as guest speaker for the event.
“I have no problems expressing myself now, but that has not always been the case,” said Adams. “The first few years of being in the Navy were not my best; it was by far my worst. I could not identify as myself. I stayed behind closed doors and stayed to myself. Things got a little better after the repeal and in my next command; however. there are still individuals that are not acceptance of others and still a lot of Sailors who are afraid to express themselves.”
In closing, Adams said, “It’s the differences we share that makes us stronger and remembering our past is one way we can do this. In the end, all we have is each other and as my first chief once told me; one team, one fight.”
Through these monthly observances, efforts are made to increase awareness, mutual respect and understanding of that month's designated observance, as well as promoting cross-cultural and cross-gender awareness. These events help contribute to the harmony of military members, their families and the civilian workforce.
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 on NAVIFOR, visit the command's website at http://www.public.navy.mil/fltfor/navifor/Pages/Default2.aspx, our Navy News Web page at http://www.navy.mil/local/navifor or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/USNavyInformationDominanceForces.