By Pfc. Collin S. MacKown | 14th Public Affairs Detachment
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Soldiers come from all walks of life. After “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” being repealed in 2011, the Army has taken a modern mindset to the inclusion of Soldiers in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer+ (LGBTQ) community.
Spc. Sevyn Guerra, a human resources specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, is a 28-year-old from Palm Beach, Florida, who was raised by her grandmother.
While in Basic Combat Training, Guerra recalls one of her battle buddies saying, “You’re (going to) marry a man, have kids with him and realize you’re not happy.”
“I always knew that I was gay, but I never fully accepted it,” Guerra said.
At the age of 19, she openly dated a woman, but Guerra’s Family hated it at the time.
They were old fashioned and very religious.
“They shunned me, so I went back in the ‘closet’ and basically only dated men for a while,” she said.
For five years, Guerra forced herself to be straight due to what her Family thought.
“I just wanted my Family to accept me, and still be my family,” Guerra said. “I just wanted an easy life; I knew that marrying a man and having kids with a man is a lot easier and more accepting than saying ‘oh here’s my wife!’ I was afraid of what everyone would think.”
Guerra recalled the exact month and year she fully came out as gay.
“I came out in June 2020,” Guerra said. “Very close to one year ago.”
At the age of 27, she finally felt like herself.
While the Army can be known for being an old-fashioned and a tradition-based organization, the people who helped Guerra the most were her fellow Soldiers.
Sgt. Savannah Mae McMullin, a battle management system operator with Division Artillery, 4th Inf. Div., remembered a time during Advanced Individual Training (AIT) when she heard about same-sex marriage being legalized on the federal level.
“I was 18 years old, and I remember the amount of joy I felt,” said McMullin. “When I came back from AIT, I spoke to my mother and stepfather about it.”
Unfortunately, McMullin’s stepfather had a different opinion on same-sex marriage at the time.
“He didn’t mean to hurt my feelings at the time, but my stepfather said, ‘I just don’t believe it is a real marriage.’ Honestly, it was just the way he was brought up,” said McMullin.
Over the years, McMullin’s stepfather became supportive of her sexuality. He went from not seeing same-sex marriage as a legitimate form of marriage to asking McMullin if he could walk her down the aisle at her wedding.
“He is probably my biggest, yet quietest supporter, in his own way,” said McMullin.
McMullin is one of the many Soldiers in the Army who helped Guerra be herself and focus on what matters.
“I think something that Guerra always noticed about me is the fact that I would never back down,” McMullin said. “If anyone ever asks me about my sexuality, I am always confident and honest about my marriage and who I am as a person.”
McMullin said allies are an incredibly important part of the LGBTQ+ community.
“It doesn’t have to be somebody who flies a pride flag,” said McMullin. “An ally is anyone who sticks by us and shuts down any negative agendas against us.”
Luckily in the Army, the support system is getting larger every year.
“If I did not have a support system when coming out, I would not have been able to do it,” said McMullin. “I would probably be a fake version of myself my entire life.”
One of the most important parts of being an ally is helping normalize everything about the LGBTQ+ community.
“An ally is super important to me because even though its 2021, being homosexual is still looked down upon by plenty of people,” said Guerra. “It’s great to have people who show support and tell you that you aren’t alone.”