LGBT veterans in the United States remain an underheard voice in our society. Prior to the 2011 repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, openly gay and bisexual citizens were officially barred from service, leading many LGBT service people and veterans to remain silent about their stories. And though DADT is no longer in effect, transgender people are still not permitted to serve in the United States military and transgender veterans consistently face difficulty receiving their rightful benefits.
Lesbian veteran Tomé Muir, who was dishonorably discharged for being gay prior to DADT's repeal, has already shared her difficulties in receiving recognition and benefits with Out. In addition, transgender WWII veteran Robina Asti was denied Social Security survivor’s benefits after her husband of 32 years passed away in 2012 and had to fight through an arduous legal process to attain them. The armed forces’ LGBT community is still fighting for its right to be heard, represented, and celebrated.
Working toward that goal, the board of directors of the National LGBT Veteran’s Memorial Project has been working on a monument that would honor the service and sacrifices of LGBT veterans. It would be placed in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
On July 20, the official design for the project was revealed: three pillars placed in a triangle pattern, each bearing the respective insignias of two military branches. In the middle of the triangle will be a flag pole and inscriptions explaining the memorial and its history. Hopefully, the site would play host to wreath-laying and other ceremonies honoring LGBT veterans.
“Our hope is that it will become a place where not only the veterans who served, but their friends, family, and employers can come to learn about the history of LGBT service members," project Chair Nancy A. Russel tells Out. "The memorial will be a visible and lasting testament to the contribution lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender service members have made to the security of the United States.”
Those working on the project anticipate receiving the majority of its funding from veterans, their families, and the families of fallen troops. Those wishing to commemorate their service or the service of others may purchase engraved pavers. In addition, the team is willing to provide interment of cremated ashes should there be a demand for it.
The Project also hopes that LGBT people and straight allies who simply wish to see the memorial built will contribute to the cause.