FORT GORDON, Ga. (WJBF) – It took Ft. Gordon’s brass and string instruments to celebrate this occasion.
“We take pride in the contributions of all the members of our army family,” An army leader stated in a video message.
For the first time on post, there was recognition of LGBT Pride Month.
“Don’t look at me because I’m gay, I’m a lesbian. Look at me as a person,” said Sgt. Hector Flores.
Sgt. Flores, an Evans resident, is in the military with a spouse who is the same sex. He applauds the move towards inclusion because he remembers while serving, if you were different, Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell.
He said, “I don’t think I consider myself really flamboyant, but at times I can and that was the process I went through. The more that I was hiding it, the more that it was showing, especially during basic training where you have to perform.”
Soldiers and the public reflected on changes such as the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the ruling on gay marriage as a sign they could now be free.
Josey Flores, Hector’s husband, said, “We’re still nervous in some areas to display affection, but at times it does seem a lot easier. It seems we’re not afraid to hold hands, we’re not afraid to kiss.”
Randy Georgemiller, a Clinical Psychologist at Eisenhower Army Medical Center, severed as keynote speaker. He told the group he was one of the first men in Richmond County to marry another man. He said inclusion is key because coming out can be risky to the individual.
“There is still a lot of stigma, a lot of prejudice, a lot of violence. Hate crimes are most predominantly done against people around their sexual orientation,” he said.
But the Flores couple said education and maybe a little PDA helps.
Georgemiller said the Augusta Pride events taking place in Downtown Augusta are good for supporters of the LGBT community to attend and help with all being more accepting of anyone who is part of that community.