21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The journey to inclusivity continues as planners here prepare several activities to observe Pride Month through the month of June.
The Department of Defense endorses 11 special observances per year and has designated June as Pride Month for all the armed services. The commemorative schedule raises awareness of different heritages and diverse backgrounds of Airmen such as Asian-Pacific American Heritage and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The Pentagon first observed Pride Month in 2012. Each base is encouraged to put together their own observance to align with base missions and needs.
“Every Airman is integral to successfully completing our mission but we must start by taking care of each other,” said Col. Michael Hough, 21st Space Wing vice commander. “Observing Pride Month is just another opportunity for us to recognize the contributions that gay, lesbian, and bisexual Airmen and LGBT civilians have made to our mission here.”
Leading the observance here, Capt. Ryan Findley, 16th Space Control Squadron mission assurance officer and Capt. Michelle Reinstatler, United States Air Force Academy English and Fine Arts Department instructor, will bring Vanessa Delgado, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender program director to lead two SafeZone awareness sessions on the culture of the LGBT community.
SafeZone is a voluntary program designed to show participants how to be a good ally and to highlight the effects of cultural and institutional homophobia. The topics include terminology, the coming-out process and what it means to be a part of the LGBT community. The program aims to encourage inclusivity, not just tolerance.
The awareness program was developed by the Gay Alliance to ensure all LGBT people are treated with acceptance. According to the Alliance, the majority of LGBT workers hide their identity and 80 percent are confronted with discussions involving spouses, dating or relationships at least once per week. Hiding one’s identity and not discussing personal issues creates anxiety.
“I had the opportunity to attend a SafeZone awareness session at the U.S. Air Force Academy,” said Findley. “The program is extremely valuable to everyone. We all have a lot to learn when it comes to being an ally.”
The goal of Pride Month activities is to increase awareness, appeal to the widest audience and encourage everyone to participate and learn new skills to become better wingmen.
“It takes every one of us to shift the culture in the work place,” said Findley. “The program that will be offered will give people the insight to be able to stand-up for a co-worker and practice inclusion. Many times people don’t know they are being exclusive when they discuss personal relationships, this program helps highlight how to be more inclusive.”
There will be two awareness sessions held at The Club on base. The sessions are voluntary and two hours in length and begin at 2:30 p.m. June 23 and June 26. For information contact the EO office at 556-7691.