Thousands will make their way to Seattle this weekend for the annual Seattle Pride celebration and when they do many will be witnessing history.
Nathaniel Boehme is currently serving with the Air National Guard out of Portland, but on Sunday he will make history when he becomes the first active-duty gay military member, with permission from the Pentagon, to march in uniform in Seattle’s Pride Parade.
Boehme enlisted just six days before the September 11 terror attack, and for years he served quietly as a gay man.
“In my time in Iraq I served under ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ and I had to, much like many of my colleagues had to serve in silence,” Boehme said.
But over time many things have changed. He is now married to his husband and after three years of work he received the permission he needed to march in the parade. Not long ago he received a letter approving the effort from a Lieutenant General at the Pentagon.
“I honestly cried a little bit. I teared up. And for me personally, again, as a gay service member, it’s really monumental because it means that we are working toward a military and a community that’s more inclusive and recognizes all people’s contributions to the service of this nation no matter what,” Boehme said.
As he gets ready to march in the parade, he shared these thoughts for any current, past, or future LGBT military member.
“We live in a great nation, we really do, and we have our ups and downs, but we have a nation, and a state especially here in Oregon, and Washington truthfully, that supports us in all that we do,” Boehme added. “So those who want to serve need not do so in silence anymore, and I would say follow your heart."