JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va., June 27, 2020 —
The month of June is nationally recognized as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer or Questioning Pride Observance month to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, which spurred the ongoing fight for equal rights and fair justice for LGBTQ+ community members.
U.S. Army Sgt. Jimmy D. Tingle, Medical Department Activity patient administration specialist, organized a virtual Pride Month run and hosted a 5K run for AIT Soldiers at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, June 20, 2020.
“To organize the run two years in a row feels extraordinary,” Tingle said. “I hope that I have made a difference for the LGBTQ+ service members at [JBLE.] Recognizing them and showing full support means everything to me.”
However, this year’s run presented unforeseen obstacles due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tingle explained how he began organizing the event in January and how he had to adapt to current safety restrictions.
“When COVID-19 happened I just knew [the run] was going to be cancelled,” Tingle continued. “Then I thought of a virtual run, but that wasn’t going to be enough for me so I spoke to the [1st Aviation Regiment] command to get the AIT Soldiers involved since they have continued physical training while still maintaining social distancing.”
The virtual run was launched with a video message from JBLE leaders and Maj. Gen. Tammy Smith, Headquarters Department of the Army Deputy G-1.
In her message, Smith encouraged runners to reflect on the Stonewall Riot and the major role those protestors played in the modern fight for equal rights.
“When I think about what it means to be someone with pride, I think that it’s the ability to be authentic; that it’s being who I am,” Smith said. “When I reflect on my run, I’ll be thinking about those individuals who stood up and fought for me at Stonewall and everybody who has done that since so that I can be authentically who I am.”