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Ramstein recognizes LGBT Pride

"A lot of times in life we grow up with one ideal and one way of understanding the world. That’s comfortable for us. Sometimes we have to challenge ourselves to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. For a big part of my life, I grew accustomed to act like the few other gay people in my small Central American town, never "too gay", never "open" and never speaking about sexuality. Homosexuality in any form was greeted with insults and many times violence, which I sadly had my fair share of. Perhaps, we could gain a different perspective on life and learn more. Instead of disregarding the gay lifestyle and the gay ideals, how about taking a step forward and put yourself in our shoes? Maybe understand what it means to be a gay person. I continue to celebrate pride, so that youth who went through what I had to, or worse, can also one day have the pleasure of feeling loved, feeling accepted and feeling free." -U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jose Echaverry, left, 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron central storage supervisor

Senior Airman Sean Echaverry, right, 86th Medical Squadron surgical technician- “I believe celebrating LGBT and being a part of pride is important because you’re celebrating who you are, the history and understanding the people that went before you and have fought for your rights. We’re still standing up for our rights of who we are, who we believe we are.”

"A lot of times in life we grow up with one ideal and one way of understanding the world. That’s comfortable for us. Sometimes we have to challenge ourselves to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. For a big part of my life, I grew accustomed to act like the few other gay people in my small Central American town, never "too gay", never "open" and never speaking about sexuality. Homosexuality in any form was greeted with insults and many times violence, which I sadly had my fair share of. Perhaps, we could gain a different perspective on life and learn more. Instead of disregarding the gay lifestyle and the gay ideals, how about taking a step forward and put yourself in our shoes? Maybe understand what it means to be a gay person. I continue to celebrate pride, so that youth who went through what I had to, or worse, can also one day have the pleasure of feeling loved, feeling accepted and feeling free." -U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jose Echaverry, left, 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron central storage supervisor---- Senior Airman Sean Echaverry, right, 86th Medical Squadron surgical technician- “I believe celebrating LGBT and being a part of pride is important because you’re celebrating who you are, the history and understanding the people that went before you and have fought for your rights. We’re still standing up for our rights of who we are, who we believe we are.”

“The struggles, sacrifices, and successes among the LGBT community continue to shape our history and remind us to uphold tolerance and justice for all. Integrity and respect are fundamental qualities of our military and civilian culture. As we celebrate the diversity of the total force, we honor all who have answered the call to serve, and their unwavering commitment to our shared mission. During the month of June, let us celebrate the diversity of the DoD workforce and rededicate ourselves to equity, dignity, and respect for all.” – A.M. Kurta, Performing the Duties of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, 2017 DoD LGBT Pride Month Memo

“The struggles, sacrifices, and successes among the LGBT community continue to shape our history and remind us to uphold tolerance and justice for all. Integrity and respect are fundamental qualities of our military and civilian culture. As we celebrate the diversity of the total force, we honor all who have answered the call to serve, and their unwavering commitment to our shared mission. During the month of June, let us celebrate the diversity of the DoD workforce and rededicate ourselves to equity, dignity, and respect for all.” – A.M. Kurta, Performing the Duties of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, 2017 DoD LGBT Pride Month Memo

“Freedom, expression and safety are all things that many people take for granted. It wasn’t even 100 years ago that someone who looks like me didn’t have those freedoms. I believe that everyone should feel safe enough to express themselves freely without fear of reprisal and I am willing to stand and fight for those who feel these injustices in their lives” -Shavon Johnson, spouse of Tech Sgt. James Johnson, 786th Civil Engineer Squadron service contract noncommissioned officer in-charge

“Freedom, expression and safety are all things that many people take for granted. It wasn’t even 100 years ago that someone who looks like me didn’t have those freedoms. I believe that everyone should feel safe enough to express themselves freely without fear of reprisal and I am willing to stand and fight for those who feel these injustices in their lives” -Shavon Johnson, spouse of Tech Sgt. James Johnson, 786th Civil Engineer Squadron service contract noncommissioned officer in-charge

“There is nothing more human than loving someone who is also human. We just so happened to fall in love with each other.” – U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Devin Boyer, 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs photojournalist with his wife, Blakely and their two children Annabel and Ronan.

“There is nothing more human than loving someone who is also human. We just so happened to fall in love with each other.” – U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Devin Boyer, 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs photojournalist with his wife, Blakely and their two children Annabel and Ronan.

“I celebrate Pride because when I finally came out as gay, I felt myself become complete. I am able to fully express myself in ways I would have never been able to before. However, I am more than just gay. I am goofy regular ‘ole guy and a whole bunch other things that sums me up!” – U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Keith Rowe, 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron traffic management journeyman

“I celebrate Pride because when I finally came out as gay, I felt myself become complete. I am able to fully express myself in ways I would have never been able to before. However, I am more than just gay. I am goofy regular ‘ole guy and a whole bunch other things that sums me up!” – U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Keith Rowe, 86th Logistics Readiness Squadron traffic management journeyman

“What was it like serving under don’t ask, don’t tell? I was an actress. Every day I lived a double life; I would pretend to be interested in men. After I came out to my family a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Finally, I was proud of who I am. So today, I celebrate for those that are still hiding and not allowed to be themselves. I celebrate for all those before me that fought so hard and gave everything for equality. Pride is self-respect and love. Celebrate so we may never go back in time." - Ashley Carothers, left, 21st Theater Logistics Support Center supply technician

Tamia Russell, right, 2nd Signal Brigade, Systems Center Configuration Manager administrator - “Being in New York, in the west village, I felt the presence of those who struggled at the Stonewall. I’ve learned to appreciate the one thing I can claim as mine, pride month, as a time to celebrate with my brothers and sisters. It’s probably the most important thing I’ve learned.

“What was it like serving under don’t ask, don’t tell? I was an actress. Every day I lived a double life; I would pretend to be interested in men. After I came out to my family a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Finally, I was proud of who I am. So today, I celebrate for those that are still hiding and not allowed to be themselves. I celebrate for all those before me that fought so hard and gave everything for equality. Pride is self-respect and love. Celebrate so we may never go back in time." - Ashley Carothers, left, 21st Theater Logistics Support Center supply technician Tamia Russell, right, 2nd Signal Brigade, Systems Center Configuration Manager administrator - “Being in New York, in the west village, I felt the presence of those who struggled at the Stonewall. I’ve learned to appreciate the one thing I can claim as mine, pride month, as a time to celebrate with my brothers and sisters. It’s probably the most important thing I’ve learned.

“I think LGBT month is important because it calls attention to the fight for equal rights and treatment for LGBT people. They're fighting the same fight black people fought, which is the same fight that women fought, which is the same fight Native Americans, Irish-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian-Americans fought, etc. In almost all of those fights, the end result was success through (relative) equality. I think this fight will result in the same solution, but not without support and awareness in the non-LGBT community, which observances like this assist.”  – U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Stephen Ellis, 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs broadcast journalist

“I think LGBT month is important because it calls attention to the fight for equal rights and treatment for LGBT people. They're fighting the same fight black people fought, which is the same fight that women fought, which is the same fight Native Americans, Irish-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian-Americans fought, etc. In almost all of those fights, the end result was success through (relative) equality. I think this fight will result in the same solution, but not without support and awareness in the non-LGBT community, which observances like this assist.” – U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Stephen Ellis, 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs broadcast journalist

"I celebrate pride because of what it represents. Pride is a celebration of life. It is place where everyone is accepted. No prejudice. No judgements. Just people coming together in the name of love, humanity, and equality."-Jaukena Jackson-Albers, Team Ramstein member

"I celebrate pride because of what it represents. Pride is a celebration of life. It is place where everyone is accepted. No prejudice. No judgements. Just people coming together in the name of love, humanity, and equality."-Jaukena Jackson-Albers, Team Ramstein member

“Pride is the celebration of our life and the freedom to embrace who we are. It is the celebration for those who have fought for our rights and on behalf of those who are not here to celebrate their meaningful life with us, whose lives were taken too soon from hate, and ignorance; from despair.  It is the celebration of our beautiful son, born from two women in love and those blossoming into the person they were always meant to be.” – U.S. Army Warrant Officer 1 Ramona Silafau, left, 10th Army Air & Missile Defense Command G-1 Human Resources Technician with spouse, Jazmine Silafau and their son Jax.

“Pride is the celebration of our life and the freedom to embrace who we are. It is the celebration for those who have fought for our rights and on behalf of those who are not here to celebrate their meaningful life with us, whose lives were taken too soon from hate, and ignorance; from despair. It is the celebration of our beautiful son, born from two women in love and those blossoming into the person they were always meant to be.” – U.S. Army Warrant Officer 1 Ramona Silafau, left, 10th Army Air & Missile Defense Command G-1 Human Resources Technician with spouse, Jazmine Silafau and their son Jax.

“Often times we fail to realize the difference between what we want and what we need, what we want is almost never what we need. Once we have our insights of wants v. needs aligned, there is nothing that cannot stop you from getting it. What we want is Equality, what we need is Love, now we have BOTH together as one.” – U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Lester Brewer, 86th Materiel Maintenance Squadron fleet management and analysis craftsman
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“Often times we fail to realize the difference between what we want and what we need, what we want is almost never what we need. Once we have our insights of wants v. needs aligned, there is nothing that cannot stop you from getting it. What we want is Equality, what we need is Love, now we have BOTH together as one.” – U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Lester Brewer, 86th Materiel Maintenance Squadron fleet management and analysis craftsman

“Love is love...it's a simple as that. We are all human and as such deserve the same basic human rights to love and marry who we want regardless of race or gender.”- Skyla Sorenson, spouse of SSgt Scott Sorenson 86 AMXS instrument in flight control systems craftsman
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“Love is love...it's a simple as that. We are all human and as such deserve the same basic human rights to love and marry who we want regardless of race or gender.”- Skyla Sorenson, spouse of SSgt Scott Sorenson 86 AMXS instrument in flight control systems craftsman

“It’s important we as the LGBT community have a voice that can be heard, instead of being silenced. Being a part of the community has been as rewarding as it is challenging in day to day life, but giving away that voice is never an option.”- Spc. Roderick L. Armstrong Jr.  Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 21st Theater Sustainment Command 27D paralegal specialist
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“It’s important we as the LGBT community have a voice that can be heard, instead of being silenced. Being a part of the community has been as rewarding as it is challenging in day to day life, but giving away that voice is never an option.”- Spc. Roderick L. Armstrong Jr. Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 21st Theater Sustainment Command 27D paralegal specialist

"Too many have been forced to suffer or still suffer simply for being who they are.  The freedom of being allowed to express this love, regardless of physical make up, is another one of the many rights and liberties that I wear a uniform every day to protect-and it's sure worth celebrating."- U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Shanta Ray, Headquarters AIRCOM intelligence analyst
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"Too many have been forced to suffer or still suffer simply for being who they are. The freedom of being allowed to express this love, regardless of physical make up, is another one of the many rights and liberties that I wear a uniform every day to protect-and it's sure worth celebrating."- U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Shanta Ray, Headquarters AIRCOM intelligence analyst

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --

“The struggles, sacrifices, and successes among the LGBT community continue to shape our history and remind us to uphold tolerance and justice for all. Integrity and respect are fundamental qualities of our military and civilian culture. As we celebrate the diversity of the total force, we honor all who have answered the call to serve, and their unwavering commitment to our shared mission. During the month of June, let us celebrate the diversity of the DoD workforce and rededicate ourselves to equity, dignity, and respect for all.” – A.M. Kurta, Performing the Duties of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, 2017 DoD LGBT Pride Month Memo

For the last five years, the Department of Defense observes Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month in June each year. We asked 13 Kaiserslautern Military Community Members:

“Why is celebrating LGBT Pride important to you?”