By Crystal Krammer, Cold Furnace Military Advisor
When CEO Lori Shepherd approached me to submit an article in celebration of Pride month, I was immediately filled with a sense of excitement and trepidation. I will share with you the trepidation first. As a proud, out and about, 50-year-old lesbian who retired from serving 30 years in the Canadian Armed Forces, I never really celebrated pride day, pride week or even pride month. Instead, I strove to be known and recognized for the work that I produced, the leadership I brought and the compassion I had to give.
Before you scream in horror, “How could you?” you would have to understand that when I joined the military back in 1988 (at the tender age of 18), you were forbidden to be “gay” in the armed forces. The witch hunt was on to “root you out” and terminate your service. I believe this is what led to my mindset of stifling the celebration and not attending Pride events. Now don’t get me wrong, I was out of the closet and hanging with my “posse” — even my bosses knew I was a lesbian. But I would not say that I had a sense of pride during those days. Now in proper form, I do have to give the Canadian Armed Forces props because they have done a 180 degree turn (over the many years) on the inclusiveness of all races, religions, gender and sexual orientation. I truly believe they are a leading institution in this field (enough of that… I am retired).
Now, as for why I was excited about being asked to contribute to this blog…
By way of writing this article for Cold Furnace, I see it as my coming out party — in the sense that I am actually embracing, standing and supporting this fantastic community and its members: without shame, boundaries or fear of judgment, in an open format. I am excited to be a role model to the younger community that are just figuring out who they are, being a voice for those who cannot express themselves or those who are fearful of being rejected when they come out to their families and friends. I am extremely excited when I look at how far the Pride movement has taken us and how much more acceptance, respect and love has opened within the world. I am excited to see the younger generation exhibiting a fearless sense of pride, support and acceptance of the LGBTQ2+ community and standing up for their friends. I look forward to showing my colours proudly with my wife and fur babies this June and celebrating “virtually” with my friends. Thank you, Cold Furnace and Lori for providing me this great opportunity to connect with myself and my emotions and reconcile what I have suppressed: (PRIDE) for so many years!
Happy PRIDE month everyone!
On a side note: We still have a long way to go and must recognize that there are still many places in the world where someone can be executed for being anything but heterosexual. Even in our own backyards there is still hate, bias, misinformation and ignorance. Let’s work together to put and end to it!