Do Tell: You’re not alone

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Marissa Libby
  • 8th Maintenance Squadron

June can be a very conflicting time for me. It is met with so much positivity from allies and other members of the LGBTQ+ community, but it also shows that there is still a lot of room left for us to grow as people.

I grew up in a smaller community in Maine where it was considered taboo to be gay, so that caused a lot of conflicting feelings internally for me, which led me to be unable to accept myself for who I truly was.

During my time in the military, I have had a mostly positive experience as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. The Air Force has allowed me to see things from a different perspective and empowered me to feel like it was acceptable to openly be myself. I am grateful for my friends that I have made throughout my career that have shown me that I can be who I am and that doesn’t change how they feel about me. However, I know not everyone is as lucky as I am.

While wearing this uniform, I have seen the Air Force empower diversity and inclusion programs which makes me proud to serve.

Despite the positive growth, I still see so much backlash towards our wingmen who only want to feel accepted for who they are while they serve alongside us.

There have been times where I have heard hateful comments in the workplace from people who didn’t agree with policy changes that support LGBTQ+ service members. I really like to avoid conflict when I can, but I have realized during the past few years that when things like that happen, it’s important to speak up. Especially for those who feel like they don’t have a voice.

I had an old coworker that would come up with any excuse to complain about people identifying by their preferred pronouns. The 2021 update to the Tongue and Quill authorizing the use of pronouns in email signatures caused this coworker to reach a boiling point that needed intervention from multiple layers of leadership.

After the dust settled, one action from a member of my leadership team stood out. They placed their preferred pronouns in their signature block. This leader showed me that they wanted everyone to know that adding your pronouns wouldn’t be met with negativity by them.

I know that is not always the case and for more on using preferred pronouns you can read Staff Sgt. Pamela Hernandez’s commentary, “Do Tell: Representation matters.” I look forward to the day where acceptance of others isn’t met with resistance.

Writing this commentary is very much outside my comfort zone. I am usually not one to try to bring attention to myself, especially not this publicly, but I decided to do this in the hope that someone who may be struggling to find themselves (or isn’t quite ready to share their identity with others) would see it and know that they aren’t alone.