Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment and volunteers from units at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, came together to host the first “Pride Night” on June 28, according to forthoodsentinel.com.
“The landmark event was the first time a military unit hosted an event to recognize LGBT personnel at Camp Arifjan,” the July 10 report said.
“It was a bit nerve wrecking because we had no idea what the turnout would be, or if we would encounter any resistance. We couldn’t estimate if there would be only ten people to show up, or hundreds,” said Capt. David Endter, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1-44 ADA Regiment.
“Once word got out that we were hosting the event, we started getting emails from units across camp asking for more information, and what they could do to participate and to put the word out to their own units to let people know what was going on,” Endter said.
More than 70 people attended the event that stated with a speech from guest speaker Col. Linda Jantzen, brigade commander, 160th Signal Brigade, based out of Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
Jantzen addressed the impact of changes throughout military history and on how life in the military has changed since the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
Guests then viewed the documentary “Coming Out Under Fire” that shared stories of veterans who served during World War II and how same-sex relations were handled during that time namely that soldiers could be removed from service if found to be gay.
Participants then lit up the night with chem-lights as a way to display their freedom of expression and appreciation of LGBT equality.
“It was an honor to work on planning Camp Arifjan’s celebration and recognition of the efforts of the Department of Defense’s lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members,” said Maj. Matthew Wood, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 108th Sustainment Brigade.
There are eight US military bases in Kuwait and Camp Arifjan is vital to U.S. military operations in the Southwest Asia. The camp is primarily a forward-deployment army post that provides ground support for helicopters and armored vehicles and is situated to the south of Kuwait City.
Kuwait rigorously enforces its anti-gay law that punishes consensual same-sex relations between men over the age of 21 with up to six years imprisonment. Gay men are also fined or imprisoned under broad laws designed to protect public morality and public order with the state using a prohibition against “imitating the opposite sex in appearance or behavior.”