My Coast Guard
Commentary | June 3, 2022

Coast Guard commemorates LGBTQ+ Pride Month

By Coast Guard Message from Dr. Terri A. Dickerson, Director, Civil Rights Directorate

The Coast Guard commemorates LGBTQ+ Pride Month in June. What began as an observance of the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising for gay rights in New York City has grown into a nationwide celebration. It reminds us that contributions of the LGBTQ+ community are woven throughout the fabric of our nation's history, our society, and our service.

Our strength is in unity and the ability of all members to be able to work and contribute as our authentic selves. An advocate for gay rights, Harvey Milk served in the U.S. Navy as a diving officer during the Korean War, achieving the rank of lieutenant junior grade before resigning his commission in 1955 rather than face charges for his sexual orientation. Milk became one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States. A former city supervisor who was opposed to a bill banning sexual orientation discrimination killed Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone in 1978. Last year, the Navy christened the U.S. Naval Ship Harvey Milk to recognize his service and human rights activism. In our own workforce, Petty Officer 2nd Class Melissa McKenzie is a strong advocate for affirming voices of the service's LGBTQ+ community. Cmdr. Hale Allegretti is a transgender service member who joined the Coast Guard in 2001 when LGBTQ+ members were barred from serving openly. Through valorous service, Allegretti continues to pave the way for others. Among civilian leaders John Berry was the first openly gay member to head a federal agency when appointed to the Office of Personnel Management in 2009; Ms. Chai Felblum, was appointed as commissioner, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2010; and Mr. Richard Grennell was appointed as Director of National Intelligence in 2020.

Pride Month emphasizes the importance of inclusion and equal opportunity within the workplace and our strength in unity. It also affords a focused opportunity to educate, reflect, and promote service-wide discussion on issues of relevance to LGBTQ+ employees.

The Coast Guard encourages commands to organize programs that commemorate the accomplishments and contributions LGBTQ+ members. Conducting activities for special observances such as Pride Month helps us achieve our objectives of promoting equality, dignity, and respect for all workforce members.