Team XL commemorates Pride month, embracing unity and celebrating diversity

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Keira Rossman
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

This June, Team XL celebrated Pride month and reflected on the efforts and progress made towards equality, overcoming struggles, and acknowledged the ongoing endeavors of the LGBTQ+ community. 

"While it may seem insignificant to some, I believe that diversity and inclusion efforts go a long way towards bettering both individuals and teams, which in turn results in a positive impact towards Laughlin's mission and operations," said 1st Lt. Joshua Glasstein, 47th Flying Training Wing command post controller and member of this year's Pride month planning committee. "I see significant importance in investing in the people around you, especially as a leader, in whatever way you can. We all rise together when we take care of one another, which allows us to better support the mission collectively." 

Pride takes on a profoundly personal meaning for each person. For some, it could be a rallying cry or a call to action to advocate for equal rights and social justice.  

"Pride month is important for me for two main reasons," said Bettes, 47th Operations Support Squadron NCOIC of aircrew flight equipment quality assurance. "It gives people the opportunity to come together on common ground and encourages people to confront their own biases." 

For others, Pride sends a resounding message of hope and acceptance to those struggling with their journey of self-discovery and authenticity. 

"Above all, I see Pride month as a way to show others who might be struggling to find their identity so that they can be proud to be who they are," said Glasstein. "So too does it show those who are prevented from living their life to their fullest that there's a community that values and cares about them." 

Ultimately, Pride embodies many meanings, including the fundamental human right to exist authentically, love openly, and be included and accepted for who individuals genuinely are. 

"Pride is a time to raise awareness of issues we might experience being part of the community," said Master Sgt. Chelsea Moschell, 47th Operations Group first sergeant, "but it's also a time to celebrate who we are, for some part of themselves that they might usually hide. Pride is most important because somewhere out there is a confused teenager and/or adult who still thinks maybe being dead is better than being gay, and that's not okay." 

Members of the Pride month planning committee dedicated themselves to representing these broad meanings of Pride to all members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

"Hopefully, our efforts allow a place for people to confront their biases and learn instead of having to do that work alone," said Bettes. "During Asian American Pacific Islander month, I got to learn about Hmong heritage from an Airman in my squadron and gained a deeper understanding of it than I would have gotten without that opportunity." 

Celebrating Pride month at Laughlin means appreciating and honoring the contributions of LGBTQ+ service members and civilian personnel. Appreciating their dedication to service and resilience in adversity means creating a more diverse and inclusive team. 

"Pride month is a great time for celebration, but supporting the LGBTQ+ community should be a year-round effort," said Glasstein. "Now is the time to stand up and speak out in support of your LGBTQ+ friends and family members. Check on your people and spread love, not hate." 

The repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy in September 2011 marked a significant milestone in transforming the military’s environment to support members of the LGBTQ+ community. This repeal ensured that service members could serve openly without fear of discrimination based on sexual orientation. Additionally, the Defense of Marriage Act ruling as unconstitutional in June 2013 granted equal rights to same-sex couples, including access to base housing, medical benefits, and survivor benefits.  

"I have been incredibly privileged and grateful to join the Air Force in a time when my identity is not only permitted, but supported," said Glasstein. "The harsh reality is that the era of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is much closer in the rearview mirror than people may want to acknowledge, and the lasting effects such policies had on servicemembers will continue long into the future. It is imperative we listen to their stories and learn from their experiences so we may prevent such baseless discrimination from happening again."