Pentagon’s Special Dispensation Makes For Special Pride Parade


The unprecedented appearance of uniformed military personnel in yesterday's San Diego Pride Parade was much appreciated by spectators along the route, according to the AP:

Some of the loudest cheers Saturday at San Diego’s gay pride parade were for active-duty troops marching in military dress, the first time that U.S. service members participated in such an event while in full uniform.

Dozens of soldiers, sailors, and Marines marched alongside an old Army truck decorated with a “Freedom to Serve” banner and a rainbow flag.

From the LA Times:

A crowd estimated at 200,000 whistled, waved, cheered and applauded as the service members walked the parade route through the city's largely gay neighborhood of Hillcrest, ending at the western extension of Balboa Park. All branches of the military were represented.

Some in the crowd waved tiny flags; others shouted, "Thank you for your service!" Some saluted.

As Andy explained last week, this will probably be the last time anybody gets to witness such a thing. Generally, all service members are barred from wearing their uniforms during civilian parades. The Pentagon made a one-off exception because the parade's organizers had requested that military personnel don their uniforms, and nobody wanted to see good, patriotic paraders penalized for doing as they were asked. Military personnel will typically appear at parades in tee-shirts denoting their military branch.

Which is fine — except, man, there's really something special about seeing the full dress uniform. Check out that pic above, from the AP (whose slideshow from the parade is excellent, and viewable here). There's a lot of dignity and sweetness captured in the interaction between the waving sailor and that lovely blue-haired gentleman, and the uniform seems essential.


  1. ryena says

    Wait, I’ve seen uniformed officers in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade in NYC, which discriminates against its own LGBT Irish American citizens, so how does that work?

  2. ryena says

    Wait, I’ve seen uniformed officers in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade in NYC, which discriminates against its own LGBT Irish American citizens, so how does that work?

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  4. BABH says

    Actually, it’s pretty routine to grant permission for troops to parade in uniform, and I expect that we’ll see it regularly in Pride parades across the country.

    When I was stationed in Savannah, my battalion would march in the St. Pat’s parade every year as a unit – in other words, we were *ordered* to be there, in uniform and in formation. All I could do to protest was to wear orange underwear.

  5. J.J. in the Navy says

    I feel bad I’m missing out on Pride weekend this year even though I just got back from being underway and downtown San Diego is just right there. But I just can’t ditch my buddies…and I don’t have any gay friends who are also in the Navy yet.

    Maybe next year.

  6. UFFDA says

    Whadayou mean “lovely blue-haired gentleman”? Don’t you know that anything out of the ordinary should be suppressed! For heaven’s sake.

  7. Jiles says

    LOVE THIS! Love them attending Pride!

    Pride parades have become sooo massive in major cities. Chicago had over 850,000 people at Pride making the city council comment and note it’s one of the largest events for the city. NY pride had over 1.5 million spectators, and the entire city basically knew of it and heard of it with amazing support.

    I love Pride events too

  8. August says

    I’m actually sad Pride Summer is coming to an end soon. I went to a few parades in various cities this year. It’s truly powerful how many gay friends (amazing friends) you’ll make while attending Pride.

  9. Fl Guy 1974 says

    @ August
    Agreed. Met my partner of 8 years at Pride parade in Miami 8 years ago. We have many other friends in long term relationships that met at Pride. I think everyone just feels free at the events and there’s something romantic to that and brings people together.

  10. Utopia says

    This was a powerful experience. The crowd cheered, the servicemen and women lit up. Everyone was happy, celebrating, cheerful. I love what San Diego Pride represents and the crowd it attracts and the symbol of liberation and equality we stand for. My friends and I are ALREADY looking forward to next years celebration.

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