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Keesler celebrates Pride Month

U.S. Air Force Captain Jeanette C. Santos, 81st Operational Medical Readiness Squadron licensed psychologist, poses for a photo at the Keesler Medical Center on Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, June 7, 2021. Santos is an LGBTQ+ advocate and shares her support in honor of Pride Month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jasmine Galloway)

U.S. Air Force Captain Jeanette C. Santos, 81st Operational Medical Readiness Squadron licensed psychologist, poses for a photo at the Keesler Medical Center on Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, June 7, 2021. Santos is an LGBTQ+ advocate and shares her support in honor of Pride Month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jasmine Galloway)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

As we celebrate Pride Month, we must remember that it wasn’t always acknowledged as a celebration.  On June 28, 1969, the community responded to a police raid that began at the Stonewall Inn, a bar located in Manhattan, New York, that served as a safe haven for the city’s gay, lesbian and transgender community. A year later, the first Pride parade was held at Stonewall, stretching fifteen blocks and bringing out thousands of supporters.

“I’m such a fierce ally and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community because I believe in equality,” said Captain Jeanette C. Santos, 81st Operational Medical Readiness Squadron licensed psychologist. “I believe that every human being deserves to be respected, loved, and to have all of their rights, but this particular community has been marginalized and mistreated.”

Celebrating Pride Month signifies a movement towards equality for all, though there is still work to be done we have come a long way in recognizing those in the LGBTQ+ community.

“To see us as a nation, but not only that, as an organization here at Keesler celebrating Pride shows that we are also acknowledging service members within this community,” said Santos. “Hopefully this month will open up some minds and hearts and even if it doesn’t, being exposed and educated about the enormous contributions of this community and how valuable they are is a step in the right direction.”

Sometimes there are people who make misinformed assumptions as to why someone is a part of the LGBTQ+ community, oftentimes invalidating their experience and labeling them as something that they’re not. 

“One thing that bothers me is when people call it a lifestyle or a choice,” said Santos. “What is a choice is to live and love your true self and not let others dictate your life.”