For the first time in San Diego history, military personnel will take part in a gay pride parade.
On Saturday, more than 200 active-duty service members and veterans will march in the San Diego LGBT Pride Parade, which begins at University Ave. and Normal St. at 11 a.m.
The participation of military in pride parades has long been stifled by the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which bars gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. The policy is now pending repeal from congress.
Sean Sala, a Navy Operations Specialist, spearheads the group of service members marching in the parade. He said he’s always been disturbed by the lack of military participation in Pride parades.
"There is an immediate assumption that if you march, you're gay. This has meant that we can't even honor straight service members," Sala said in a statement. "For years, other public servants like police and firefighters have been honored in the Pride Parade. It is time for our troops to receive the same support."
Before the parade, the service members will hold a tribute to fallen soldiers and LGBT community leaders who have passed. The fallen soldiers will be honored with two rider-less horses – one with an American flag draped over it, and the other with a rainbow flag.
"We are excited to support our troops, and we commend the brave service members taking part in the parade, regardless of their sexual orientation," said Dwayne Crenshaw, executive director of San Diego Pride.
Crenshaw also said he believes this is the first time active-duty service members have ever marched in a Pride parade anywhere in the country.