Leonardwood

 

FORT LEONARD WOOD, MO – The Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood celebrated the army base’s first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pride Month event on June 30 at the USO Building.

 

Fort Leonard Wood, an army base in Southern Missouri, is the state’s largest military installation. Tickets for the pride luncheon were sold out with over 250 – the majority being active service members in uniform – attending to hear Command Sergeant Major Teresa Duncan and “Diversity is at the heart of America’s strength.”

 

The sequence of events included the playing of the National Anthem, an Invocation and Benediction, the reading of the Pride Month Presidential Proclamation and the airing of a brief documentary clip “45 Years since Stonewall.”

 

Command Sgt. Major Duncan delivered a heartfelt but humor-filled speech detailing her journey to become an out lesbian who wed her wife Maria in Iowa following the fall of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.

 

“I came up in the army when being a female was accepted by the army yet not so accepted by the soldiers within,” Command Sgt. Major Duncan said. “It was tough for me, but I had to remember that it was the women before me that lay the path for my future in the army – and I realized now it is my turn to lay the path for those who do not feel accepted and are in fear to be themselves.”

 

“It is up to us as authentic leaders to not just be comfortable in our own skin but more so to not be threatened by people of different origins and welcome them into our organizations,” she said.

 

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed in September 2011 allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. This past Friday, a LGBT-inclusive Diversity Picnic was held for the second year at Scott Air Force Base in O’Fallon, Illinois.

 

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