Denver PrideFest Honors Hopes, Challenges of LGBT Veterans
June 15, 2011
DENVER - This year's Denver PrideFest spotlights the sacrifices of America's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered veterans and service members.
Grand marshal of Saturday's PrideFest parade will be former Air Force Maj. Mike Almy, an Iraq war veteran. Almy served in the Air Force for 13 years and followed the policies of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT), but says he was forced to leave the service after a colleague stumbled across private e-mail messages to family and friends - messages Almy thought he deleted from the computer he was using once he left Iraq.
"In Iraq, during the height of the insurgency, this commander who had replaced my unit ordered a search of my private e-mails. They went through about 500-plus e-mails and pulled out maybe a dozen or so which were damaging to myself in the light of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' "
He never admitted he was gay while he was in the Air Force, Almy says. He had been in charge of a squadron of more than 200 men and women, but says he was kicked out of the military.
President Obama signed a repeal of DADT late last year, but it still requires implementation plans by the Pentagon. The House-approved military budget for 2012 includes language which could slow that process by requiring additional military certification requirements for the policy to be dismantled.
Almy thinks the lingering support for DADT is similar to other now-overturned military bans for race or gender.
"Part of it, I think, is fear of the unknown. The military has traditionally been white men that serve."
Despite the slow process, Almy says he's encouraged by the repeal.
"It's such a huge step forward for LGBT Americans, saying that they can now defend America."
Saturday's PrideFest parade will also feature a volunteer color guard and the Denver Pipe and Drum Corps.