Despite the negative cultural and political attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community from many right-wing elected political officials and their supporters, a small, but devoted group of Air Force members and their families recently gathered to celebrate pride in Goldsboro, North Carolina.
Site of the event: the small town’s Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.
Service members and their families came together June 7 for a two-mile Pride Walk and the reading of an LGBTQ+ fact poster.
An Air Force base and a small town might seem like an unlikely place to host such an event, but, according to Airman First class Rebecca Sirimarco-Lang, a member of the fourth fighter wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and the Department of Defense is supportive of efforts to honor the service, commitment and sacrifice of LGBTQ+ members of the armed forces.
“Events like this promote diversity and inclusion and [are] a way Team Seymour help support airmen and their families,” Sirimarco-Lang wrote in a press release from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base dated June 12.
Brief LGBTQ military history
The earliest evidence of bigotry and discrimination towards gay men in the US military dates back to 1778, although no specific policy was put into place until 1921, which called for court martial and dishonorable discharge.
That changed in 1993 when former President Bill Clinton signed into law the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which allowed service by non-heterosexuals, as long as they did not discuss or reveal their sexual orientation.
That policy remained in place until President Barack Obama repealed it in 2011, allowing for service without any restrictions for individuals who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual. The policy was updated in 2016 to include gender identity but was then rescinded under the direction of Donald Trump in 2017. Current President Joe Biden reversed that decision upon taking office in 2021.
As of today, all LGBTQ+ individuals are allowed to serve in the military without restriction.
Some details on Goldsboro
Goldsboro is a small town with a population of around 35,000 that was incorporated in 1847. It is the county seat of Wayne County. Located in North Carolina’s coastal plains region it is approximately 40 miles Southeast of Raleigh. Over half the population is Black or African American, while approximately 32 percent are identified as Caucasian.
The cost of living in Goldsboro is less than many areas of North Carolina, with the average median price for a three-bedroom, two bath home as low as $100k.
Unfortunately, there is little to no LGBTQ statistical information on life in Goldsboro or Wayne County, although the county website does maintain a resource page specifically for the LGBTQ community.