Pride Month: Open Communication, Dignity, and Respect

  • Published
  • By Sheridan Fidelman
  • 377th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

June is Pride Month, a time to celebrate open communication, dignity, and respect for all. The Department of the Air Force recognizes and honors the valuable contributions made by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, and asexual service members to the Air Force.

Kirtland Air Force Base has a population of more than 25,000 people, resulting in a diverse range of backgrounds among its residents.

“The military is a melting pot. We come together from lots of different social backgrounds and have to learn to form a team and work together. It is important that we learn from each other’s experiences and strengths through open communication. It’s vital to get together as a team, and you can’t have open communication without dignity and mutual respect,” Senior Airman Nicholas Bade, 377th Security Forces Group said.

Bade is a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community as a transgender gay man serving in the United States Air Force. While Bade celebrates who he is and being in the Air Force, he recalls the challenges he faced when he tried to first enlist to serve his country.

“I waited for years for the trans ban to be repealed so that I could enlist. I had a great recruiter that kept in contact with me and even involved me in his DEP [Delayed Enlistment Program] workouts and who stayed vigilant about getting MEPS [Military Entrance Processing Station] to accept my application package once the policy changed. The ban was reimplemented when I was in basic training and stayed in place for two years. It was hurtful, to be honest. Only 1% of the country serves in the military and there was a stigma that transgender people aren’t fit to serve. I felt very much like that stigma was applied to me and that certain people were just waiting or even trying to get me to prove I wasn’t good enough for the military. It was like being constantly set up for failure. When the policy changed again, I finally felt validated and like I wasn’t going to be alone anymore, “ Bade said.

Bade spends a lot of his time paving the way for the next generation of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially those with an interest in joining the military.

“I want their lives to be easier than their queer elders.”

Bade hopes to inspire the young transgender community that joining the Air Force would be a good and safe experience for them.

“In most ways, my Air Force experience is the same as my peers. I’ve had some really great leadership who just treated me normally and who didn’t balk at the fact that I was married to another man.”

During Pride month, Bade hopes everyone remembers that the month-long celebration is much more than just fun parades.

“I think Pride is a way of reaching out to those people and letting them know they're not alone. We can all bond over our shared experiences. It is also important that the LGBTQIA+ folks stay visible so that young people who are questioning their gender identity and/or sexuality can have role models and know that they are not alone.”