By Holly DeCarlo-White
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office
The U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Equal Opportunity office and community Equal Opportunity leaders hosted the first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month observance in Stuttgart, June 24 at the Swabian Special Events Center on Patch Barracks.
In the month of June, the Department of Defense celebrates LGBT Pride Month to recognize lesbian, gay and bisexual service members and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civilians for their dedicated service to both the DOD mission and to our nation.
USAG Stuttgart Commander Col. Glenn K. Dickenson spoke about the importance of equal opportunity during the event introduction and the reminder to all in attendance that, “we should only look at people for what they bring to the fight.”
A moving and powerful, original poem was spoken by Marine Corps Sgt. Deidra Freeman.
An excerpt from Freeman’s poem:
Though the hardest fight was loving myself. The hardest fight was accepting myself, the hardest fight was making it this far. The hardest fight is forgiveness. The hardest fight is forgiving those of hate, for the bloodshed, the heartbreak, the death, the ignorance, and the hardest fight is knowing I am still not accepted.
Joseph L. Cox, a 23-year military veteran and current J5 policy analyst at U.S. Africa Command, was the event guest speaker. Cox began with, “why we really celebrate pride,” to celebrate the victories achieved and acknowledge those who fought for rights. He continued speaking from personal experiences, the history leading up to the laws in place today, and what the community can do to continue progress for equality.
“We need to understand that it isn’t a ‘gay thing,’ it’s a human thing…we expect to be treated fairly and to the same standards.”
Cox closed with a passage from the 2013 inaugural address by President Barack Obama:
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.
To read the full original poem by Marine Corps Sgt. Deidra Freeman, click here.
View photos of the event, click here.
About the guest speaker, Joseph L. Cox
Joe Cox was born to an Army family in Augsburg, Germany. Because his father and step-father were both Soldiers, he spent most of his childhood moving from base to base. He graduated from Carroll High School in Ozark, AL. He received his Commission in the Army at Auburn University in June 1991 where he studied music and German. Over a 23-year career, his assignments included Platoon Leader, Battery XO and Battalion S1 with 5th Battalion-5th Air Defense Artillery in Korea; All Source Analysis Team Lead and Intelligence Architecture Officer with 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion in Fort Lewis, WA; Company Commander and Instructor at the US Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca; Division Information Operations Officer for 4th Infantry Division; Chief of Plans, G35 Future Operations Division, Eighth US Army in Seoul, Korea; and as a Forward Strategic Planner for HQ Department of the Army G3/5/7 with US Forces Korea in Seoul, Korea and US European Command in Stuttgart, Germany. Since his retirement from the Army in 2014, he has been working as a Policy Analyst in the J5 at US Africa Command, in Stuttgart, Germany. He has two Bachelor Degrees; a Bachelor of Arts in Church Music from Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL and Bachelor of Arts in German from Auburn University in Alabama. He also has two Master’s Degrees; a Master of Science in Computer Information Systems from the University of Phoenix and a Master of Military Arts and Science from the US Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, KS.