5 Tips to Connect with LGBTQ in Your Military Community


My wife, Vanessa, is an Army veteran. When we met, she had already served and returned to civilian life, but she’s thinking of enlisting again, soon. And for me, I need information; I needed to know what my life would look like if my wife joins again. I googled my little heart out, but I saw little of what I was looking for.

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I noticed there weren’t many blogs or voices from lesbians in the military, so I created a website and blog to create a positive place online for lesbian military spouses; a space I might need if I become a military spouse, too. I also wanted to create acceptance for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the military. Creating this space online was a way to honor my wife as a veteran, because when she did serve, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) was still in effect. DADT made it hard for her to have a relationship and live her life the way she wanted. I’m thankful she was single when we met after she got out of the Army. It’s only been a few months since same-sex marriage was made legal, but not all LGBT military personnel may be publicly open about their personal lives. And that’s okay. 

What does same-sex marriage mean for your military family? Embracing change may be the simple answer. Today, more than 71,000 service members identify with the LGBT community, and it’s common to have an LGBT person serving military families. Same-sex marriage creates a chance for everyone to be proactive and treat families in military units or on bases with an open heart, regardless of their sexual orientation or self-identity. 

I’m passionate about writing, and I love that I can blog and create a positive place for LGBT military service members online. I want to use my voice to help military families see LGBT service members are people with families, too. It’s important to respect others and treat them as you want to be treated.

Here are 5 tips to get you engage and help you connect with LGBT within your military community:

1) Acknowledge everyone. Greet and introduce yourself to everyone in the room. When inviting people over, or to an event, use the term ‘spouse’ instead of wife, or husband, to be inclusive.

2) Be friendly and welcoming. This is an easy one: just be yourself. Ask questions about their life, and talk about yours. It’s always nice to feel welcomed and acknowledged, and who knows, you might make a friend in the process!

3) Be an ally. Invite co-workers, spouses, and significant others to events. Some LGBT military personnel join the military because their own families might not support them for being who they are. See if they need help with something, or just need a friend to talk to. Being an ally for someone who is LGBT is being someone who shows up and is tough, but gentle when needed.

4) Support equality and find common ground. The LGBT community is a great place to start! Educate yourself about the diversification of gender and sexuality so you can understand the range a person can identify as.

5) Be courageous and speak up. Learn what terms means within the LGBT community, and tell others who might not know. If someone starts a joke about being gay or transgender, let them know it’s offensive. Today, 7 in 10 Americans have close friends or relatives who are gay. By speaking against homophobia and transphobia, you support those in the LGBT community. You can make a huge impact on how others treat LGBT people in the future by engaging with others and talking about LGBT friends.

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LGBT relationships are no different than straight relationships: two people in love with each other. The repeal of the DADT made it legal for any person, regardless of sexual orientation, to openly serve in the military. But LGBT families need continued support from straight allies. That’s why I think it’s important to be part of this open-minded, open-hearted movement within your military community. At the root of everything, we are all human beings with families, who love and want be loved.

The more you know about LGBT families the easier it will be for you to interact and introduce yourself within your military communities. It can be very intimidating or nerve racking being new to the military community as a military spouse whether you are in a straight relationship or same-sex relationship.

How have you connected with the LGBT community in your military life?

norine holguinPosted by Norine Holguin, creator of Lesbian Army Wife, and OMG Lesbian Army Wife Blog

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  1. 4
    Christi

    I wish I could connect with the military LGBT community in my area… there just isn’t one. I live in Utah and my GF works at a small Camp. Her Co-workers do accept us, but there is no military LGBT support here. I wish there was something/someone that I could relate to when it comes to this.

  2. 6
    Mel

    I’m wife of an active Duty, Air Force flyer. We’ve been married for 20 amazing years. At one point I was even a “Key Spouse” trained to support military families of deployed members & make sure hey have access to support services. I can honestly say, in my experience- you’ll be happy to hear, the majority of military families & members I know already follow these suggestions you give- toward everyone. My advice to a new wife/ family is this: If you put yourself out there (no pun,:)and get involved in the base community with a sense of kindness, respect and willingness to learn from the POSITIVE spouses (like me) who have been around for the long haul, you will find lifetime friends. You won’t “click” with everyone and that’s not necessarily because of being LGBTQ family, it’s just a normal fact of life. Most military members DONT care about their comrades gender preference, they tend to hang around the people who share the same family values, level of partying, work ethic, etc. (So my husband & I tend to gravitate toward other monogamous couples who have the same values…people who like to kick back & enjoy life..who have similar goals in life and for their children… And it doesn’t matter if they’re a gay couple, in fact,I would welcome the diversity. My husband has always tended to have friends who are girls. He’s not the radical feminist the media portrays, but has a profound & honorable sense of respect & equal opportunity toward women, eapecially in his career field. (I’m very blessed!) His current deputy commander is a great leader, a woman who has a wife with a professional career in the civilian world. The thing is, over the past 21 years, my husband & I have never experienced any negative issues with the gay couples serving alongside our family- except the fact that they didn’t receive benefits. You might also be happy to hear, we are a practicing Catholic family, politically conservative AND all for marriage equality. Now that it’s all legal & families will get the support & benefits they DESERVE, it will only get better. You’ll find that if you are accepting of the richly diverse military community, it will be supportive and accepting of you.(you’ll meet your fair share of turds-like I have) but, for the most part, It’s actually pretty awesome. My favorite aspect of military life has been the fact that it’s a community of THE BEST people from every walk of life-every race, religion, spouses who speak every language.. All kinds of families..and they all have to work together as a team to survive.. AND only the strongest & most supportive survive, so we wives have to stick together, while the military members have to stick together. There’s not necessarily a need to separate yourself with rainbow flags & gay awareness runs, Etc, Unless you really want to. Enter with an open heart & mind. Be ready to pass over the few negative people & find some of the most amazing people you’ll ever grow to love. You will eventually find your tribe & your life will be enriched and you’ll discover strengths you never knew you had. You can do this, new military wife!

    Welcome! Just jump right in., start volunteering on base, with your wive’s squadron (or equivalent) & finding some people you can make your military family! Check out the base chapel(depending on your religious background) I wouldn’t be surprised if you find far more acceptance from the entire community than you’d expect. In fact, I think it’s a relief to all your straight counterparts that they can finally just recognize & be more a part of their gay comrades’ families. I no longer have to feel horrible that gay spouses don’t have the same benefits I have. Welcome, welcome welcome! finally!

    • 7
      Mel

      Also, asking if we’ve connected with the LGBTQ community.. In our experience as a family, it just happens naturally as you meet people on a daily basis- we’ve never gone out seeking to befriend people based on anything except who they are as a person, or as a family..how they treat others, etc. Some have happened to be gay & in the military. I tend to be the type who finds new wives who are alone in the corner or speak English as a second language & bring them in.:) we are all in this together!

  3. 8
    Norine Holguin

    The wealth of knowledge you possess and share as a military spouse is essential to others who want to follow what you already do every day. It’s refreshing to know there is support for LGBT within the in many military communities. Thanks so much for this in depth comment with tons of insight and great tips from your own personal experience you have acquired as a military spouse over the past 21 years.

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