Those loud jets you heard in the skies on Saturday were actually United States LGBT Pride history in the making.
A four-ship F-15 flyover from Cal Guard’s Fresno 144th Fighter Wing shook windows and eardrums all across Hillcrest and its surrounding areas in a salute to transgender military service members.
Executive Director of San Diego Pride, Fernando Z. Lopez told San Diego Gay and Lesbian News this is a national-first. The organization is a pioneer for LGBT military support, and this year’s flyover is another groundbreaking achievement.
“Since 2011 when Pride had the first military contingent in a Pride Parade, to 2012 when we received the first-ever Department of Defense (DoD) approval to have active-duty servicemembers wear uniforms in a Pride Parade, to 2016 when the openly gay Secretary of the Army, Eric K Fanning was our keynote speaker,” Lopez explains, “we have built relationships through the DoD and a professional reputation that allows us the privilege of engaging on a level that could culminate in something as historic as Saturday’s dedicated flyover.”
Years of relationship building with the DoD helped make the Saturday flyover happen said Lopez, “and those efforts with the California Air National Guard (CAANG) were predominately lead by San Diego Pride’s military department co-chair Kelly Gilliland and Clay Kilpatrick.”
He adds: “Our staff also had to coordinate with CAANG to ensure we were able to do the flyover with the right message. Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers has been quite vocal about supporting our trans community and service members in direct opposition to Trump’s anti-trans military ban.”
Lopez says that for more than a century the “phased and intentional integration of our armed forces” has built stronger connections between diverse communities.
“It’s so much harder to hate someone once you’ve served alongside them, and once those stereotypes are shattered it translates into civilian life. In a time when our trans siblings are under attack, it was important for all of us to lift up their voices and visibility now more than ever.”
Click HERE to watch a video of the flyover.