Today, I’m excited to welcome Norine from Lesbian Army Wife to Jo, My Gosh! Because Jo, My Gosh! is an inclusive community that celebrates all military families in all of their shapes, sizes, and colors, I am especially grateful today for Norine’s lovely post.
What is the root of what makes up a family? Love. Families come in different sizes and shapes and are unique. Be an ally for LGBT families in your military community. Why? Someone might need a friend, encouragement, or advice. Why not create an atmosphere of tolerance and embrace change? The military has made many strides in recent years from celebrating LGBT Pride Month this past June to changing the Military Equal Opportunity Policy to reflect LGB servicemen and women.
Creating awareness and acceptance in your military communities is the key way to help your military LGBT families feel welcome. You might not all gravitate towards or connect with all military families but it’s amazing if you put yourself out there and meet new families. Lots of families in the military community have helped and supported their LGBT communities. However, in some isolated places across the United States some LGBT might still next extra support.
In keeping monument going for LGBT acceptance, I will give you 4 principals on how you can be an ally for LGBT Military Families.
Embrace all Types of Families
Every family is uniquely created differently, but it doesn’t mean families love less or want to be treated unfairly because they may be different. There are many kinds of families out there some families have a mother and father– I grew up with my mom and dad and two brothers and sister.
If one day my wife and I decide to have children we would be two moms with kids. Other families some have two fathers and maybe even yet other families have only one mother could be a military widow or one father whose daughter could be following in his footprints by joining the military.
Families are made up differently. Whether a military couple is straight or gay, both spouses could have decided to serve our country. When you strip down what a family is made of, it comes down to people who love each other. That’s it. The only way to bring about change when it comes to how families are made up is to talk about it, to learn about the change, and figure out how to be part of the process.
Learn About the LGBT Community
When considering being an ally for LGBT families in your military community learn about some of the realities and issues that affect LGBT people lives online through websites, books, or documentaries. Ask questions when you are not sure; it’s okay if you don’t know something.
Until recently, domestic partnerships did not give LGBT families simple protects and rights marriage did. Also, LGBT families didn’t even get to have recognition of their partners or spouse and children when same-sex marriage wasn’t legal in all 50 states. It has been just a short time since military families have been considered equal and are able to use all benefits available to families.
Military LGBT Families have faced many hardships when it came to serving their county and choosing to love their family. Another key struggle LGBT military families faced was living and serving in the era of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” Many LGBT service members constantly feared being dishonorably discharged if someone found out they identify as LGBT.
There are still ongoing issues LGBT Families face like a handful of states will not name both same-sex parents of birth certificates. Nebraska doesn’t allow LGBT fostering children and 42 states are silent on LGBT fostering children. Currently, in 28 states you can still be fired from your job, denied service at restaurants or stores and can be intimidated by your landlord because of your sexual orientation or gender identity.
Defend Your LGBT Friends Against Discrimination
Be there to help whether you’re on- or off-base. If others begin telling jokes or using homophobic slurs, let them know you don’t appreciate it. Do not be afraid to challenge those around you in a positive way. Listen to others and see why they may have certain prejudices or bias if you feel comfortable doing so. As an ally your voice speaks loud and clear when you stand up to others who are disrespecting and treating others wrongly. Another thing you can do is use non-gender specific language (like “spouse” instead of “wife”) don’t assume everyone you meet in your military community is straight.
Support Inclusive LGBT Activities and Events in Your Military Community
There are many things straight military families can help do to education others and efforts toward full inclusion on base. Encourage your the FRG group and/or chaplain to consider inclusive policies that protect the LGBT community. If you happen to have children talk to them about different kinds of families. Invite LGBT families to social gatherings at the park or to movies. The key thing to remember is military service members serve their country and sacrifice so much along with their families. At the end of the day, people are people and families are families. Set the tone in your family and within your military community show you believe all people deserve respect and dignity regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Norine Holguin is the author of OMG Lesbian Army Wife blog on WordPress and website creator of lesbianarmywife.com