Team RWB honors 5 groundbreaking service members during Pride Month

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Every June, our communities come together to celebrate LGBTQ+ voices and recognize the prejudice they have worked to overcome in the pursuit of acceptance. To recognize the contributions of LGBTQ+ veterans, we have put together a list of five outstanding and groundbreaking service members in the spirit of Pride Month.

Bradley Kim

On July 27, 2018, Bradley Kim, became the first openly gay athlete at a service academy when he announced his sexual orientation in an Instagram post. Kim was a sophomore and defensive back at the Air Force Academy at the time and is still serving in the Air Force today. 

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Jeremiah 29:11🙏🏽 God made me this way for a reason. I did not think this day would ever come, but I’ve finally reached the point where I am comfortable and confident enough with myself to say that I am gay. It’s been a long road to get to this point and I definitely would not be here without the love and support of my amazing family, teammates and coaches here at the academy, and my equally amazing friends. I feel blessed to have such receptive and understanding people in my life. I hope that I can serve as an example to those who are allowing their fear of acceptance to change who they are. I almost gave up my dream of playing division 1 football for fear of not being accepted by everyone, but today I am happy to say that I am a cadet at the Air Force Academy playing the sport I love with amazing people standing behind me and supporting me. If anyone feels like they don’t have a voice or feel like they are alone, just know there are plenty of people out there like you and me, and more that are willing to talk to you about it. God bless all and thank you to everyone who has made me feel comfortable to live my most genuine life.🙏🏽 Twitter/Instagram: @bradleykkim [email protected]

A post shared by Bradley Kim (@bradleykkim) on

Tracey Cooper-Harris 

Army veteran Tracey Cooper-Harris, served in Germany, Korea, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2012, Tracey and her wife Maggie filed a lawsuit against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The case resulted in a historic ruling requiring VA benefits to be provided to a veterans’ spouse regardless of gender. Cooper-Harris is a veterans advocate and participates and volunteers with a variety of nonprofits including the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Wounded Warrior Project, and Team RWB. 

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(Department of Veterans Affairs image)

Tammy Smith 

In 2012, Tammy Smith became the first openly gay general in the United States military when she was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in the U.S. Army Reserves. Smith has since been promoted to Major General and is still serving.

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(U.S. Army photo by William Pratt)

Sgt. Patricia King

In 2015, then-Army Staff Sergeant Patricia King became the first openly transgender infantry member. SSG King deployed to Afghanistan three times, receiving the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the Bronze Star. King, now a veteran with 20-years of service, is an advocate for transgender service members, speaker and consultant. 

Leonard Matlovich

Air Force Technical Sergeant Leonard P. Matlovich made history in 1975 when he appeared on the cover of Time Magazine as the first openly gay service member. His appearance challenged the ban against gay military service members. Matlovich, a Vietnam Veteran, passed away in 1988. His tombstone reads “A gay Vietnam Veteran. When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”

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