In honor of it being pride month in Central Texas, I thought it was only right that I spoke to someone from the LGBTQ+ community who could give us insight into the experiences and struggles faced by servicemembers who don't fit into the traditional, stereotypical image of a military member.

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WE LOVE AND SUPPORT ALL OUR SOLDIERS IN KILLEEN, TEXAS

I’m a big believer that love is love, and grown people have the right to live comfortably in their own skin and share their life with whoever they're drawn to. In recent years, we've seen a significant shift in public perception of LGBTQ+ Americans and their role in society, including their service to our country in the armed forces.

Central Texas is home to Fort Hood, the largest base in the U.S., and is therefore a place where we've welcomed a variety of people who proudly wear the uniform in defense of the American way of life. It's something we're immensely proud of, and many of the soldier we proudly support in our community don't always fit the old molds.

MEET SERGEANT THOMAS LAWSON

Sergeant Thomas Rashawn Lawson is a former soldier at Fort Hood who has endured many challenges, but has also enjoyed major personal and professional victories as a man of color who happens to also be a part of the LGBTQ+ community.

When I first met Sergeant Lawson, I instantly felt like I had known this man forever. It's a feeling you're probably familiar with if you've lived in the Fort Hood area for any amount of time. Almost all of us have some connection to the Army, so it's easy to click with people.

Courtesy Thomas Lawson
Courtesy Thomas Lawson
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Sgt. Lawson and I recently spoke about his experience as a gay person of color serving, and even though there were some negative aspects of it, Lawson made sure to see the positive too.

Thomas has been deployed five times in defense of this great country, so why does it matter who he loves?

Personally, I feel safe knowing that Sgt. Lawson and brave people like him are willing to sacrifice so much in defense of my country. That’s why it truly upsets me that he and other service members have faced discrimination. I needed to know what keeps him going, and he gave me a simple breakdown of the good and the bad.

WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THIS, THOMAS?

Courtesy Thomas Lawson
Courtesy Thomas Lawson
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Good: Being gay in the military made me diversify myself with other cultures to understand them too.

Bad: People ridicule me for being who I am even though I did my job well, which made me feel left out.

Overall: Being allowed to serve in a military that will enable me to be myself without hiding who I am is a blessing.

Courtesy Thomas Lawson
Courtesy Thomas Lawson
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THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE, SGT LAWSON

It really makes you think. All our soldiers face unique challenges when they sign up to serve their fellow Americans, but soldiers of the LGBTQ+ community have really struggled for acceptance from their peers in uniform. Things have changed, but there's still a lot of changing of hearts and minds to be done.

Being the best that they can be and showing true strength of bravery is something I think we can all respect. Thank you Sergeant Thomas Rashawn Lawson, and thank you to all the men and women in uniform who serve our country with dignity and honor.

Happy Pride Month!

Mural Honoring Vanessa Guillen Will Stand Outside Fort Hood's East Gate

 

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