Pritzker Military Museum & Library marks Pride Month

  • On Wednesday, June 23, the Pritzker Military Museum & Library will virtually host the panel discussion, "Exploring the Intersection of the U.S. Military and the LGBTQ Community."

    On Wednesday, June 23, the Pritzker Military Museum & Library will virtually host the panel discussion, "Exploring the Intersection of the U.S. Military and the LGBTQ Community." Courtesy of Chloe Kiser

 
 
Updated 6/17/2021 5:22 PM

The Pritzker Military Museum & Library will present a panel discussion, "Exploring the Intersection of the U.S. Military and the LGBTQ Community," at noon on Wednesday, June 23, in celebration of Pride Month.

The virtual event will feature military service people in the LGBTQ community who will share their experiences and explain how policy changes have affected their service.

 

Moderated by Mara Keisling, founder and executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, the panel will feature U.S. Army Capt. El Cook; Nic Talbott, a plaintiff in four original legal cases challenging the transgender ban in court; and Melissa Margain, CDVS-II Army combat veteran.

"We are very pleased to bring together this panel of individuals, each with their own unique story, to speak at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library," stated Susan Rifkin, COO of Philanthropic Activities. "The Museum & Library stands for sharing and preserving the stories of all who have served in the Armed Forces, and we are proud to share their perspectives."

The U.S. Military has had a complex history with the LGBTQ community. Since the 1940s, same-sex relationships were classified as a mental illness, meaning gay men and lesbians were disqualified for service.

In 1982, a military policy officially banned gay men and lesbians from their ranks; previously, same-sex relations were criminal and a cause for discharge.

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In 1993 the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was enacted, which allowed only closeted LGBTQ people to serve in the military. It wasn't until 18 years later that Congress repealed this policy, finally allowing LGB people to serve openly in the military. In 2013, spousal and family benefits were extended to same-sex married partners, and in 2021, after a temporary ban, transgender individuals were again allowed to enlist and serve.

According to several recent studies and noted by the Human Rights Campaign, the U.S. Military is one of the largest employers of transgender people.

These inclusive policies help create a strong and ready military, hiring the best people for the job based on readiness, fitness and qualifications, rather than age, gender or sexual orientation as a qualifying basis.

The Pritzker Military Museum & Library aims to increase the public's understanding of military history, military affairs and national security by providing a forum for the study and exploration of our military -- past, present and future -- with a specific focus on their stories, sacrifices and values.

With national and global reach, these spaces and events aim to share the stories of those who served and their contributions as citizen soldiers, helping citizens everywhere appreciate the relationship between the armed forces and the civilians whose freedoms they protect.

A nongovernmental, nonpartisan organization, the museum and library features diverse collections, scholarly initiatives and public programs from its flagship center in downtown Chicago to its world-class research center and park currently under construction in Somers, Wisconsin.

Visit www.pritzkermilitary.org.

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