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WPAFB celebrates Pride Month with race

Approximately 100 people are scheduled to participate in Friday’s first Pride 5K Fun Run & Walk at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Col. Cassie B. Barlow, base commander, said the event is an effort to celebrate diversity and recognize Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.

Barlow said WPAFB’s recognition of Pride Month brought mixed-reactions from Air Force personnel.

“Our Air Force was really founded on diversity … We use to think diversity was the color of our skin, and we quickly recognized that it wasn’t just the color of our skin, it was also our gender, our diversity of thought. This is another way of recognizing diversity,” Barlow said. “It’s something new for us, so it’s difficult for some people to go through change.”

The run is sponsored by the Wright-Patterson AFB Rising 6 Organization, a private professional development organization made up of base personnel.

In 2012, the secretary of defense authorized Pride Month as a special observance program in the Department of Defense, Barlow said.

“We have several special observance programs in the Department of Defense throughout the year. One of those is the Hispanic Heritage Month, African-American History Month, Women’s History Month, Asian-Pacific Islander Month and Native American Heritage Month,” she said.

WPAFB started recognition this year because that is what the base volunteers who make up the special observance committee wanted to focus on, according to Barlow.

“All of our special observance months are basically run by committees of volunteers. So, we have to have people on the installation that are interested in running the celebration or special observance,” Barlow said. “So, if there is nobody that’s willing to do it, then it doesn’t happen.”

Some feel homosexuality shouldn’t be honored by U.S. Military forces.

In an online article posted Monday, Phil Burress, chairman of the Ohio-based Citizens for Community Values, is quoted as telling One News Now that, “It’s the consistent drumbeat that we’ve heard from the homosexual lobby that you either accept this or we’re going to force this upon you.”

The online article starts off by mentioning the WPAFB Pride run.

Burress argued that homosexuality shouldn’t be honored on U.S. military installations.

Burress did not return a phone call from the Dayton Daily News on Wednesday.

WPAFB’s newly installed National Air and Space Intelligence Center commander, Air Force Col. Leah G. Lauderback, acknowledged her female spouse during a change of command ceremony in May at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

She is the first openly gay commander to oversee NASIC.

Lauderback’s arrival had nothing to do with the base’s decision to celebrate LGBT Pride Month, according to Barlow.

The deadline to register for Friday’s race, which will take place at Bass Lake, was Wednesday. Check-in begins at 2 p.m. and the race will begin 3 p.m. Friday.

Base members and dependents were eligible to take part. The first 150 participants to arrive at the event will receive a free T-shirt.

Proceeds for the event will be donated to the Base Airman’s Attic.

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