Hundreds of thousands draped in rainbow flags took to the streets of Hillcrest Saturday for the 40th annual San Diego Pride Parade, and among them, riding in a silver BMW convertible, sat their inspirational couple of the year.
Dwayne Beebe-Franqui, a U.S. Navy Master Chief, and his husband Jonathan last took part in the parade two years ago – the first year the Department of Defense allowed service members to walk while in uniform.
“It takes a lot of courage to come out here and show you’re pride,” said Dwayne. “I’m so happy we had hundreds of service members here today.”
That was also the year Dwayne got down on one knee.
“He looked so nervous. I've never seen that look on his face before, and it was like time just froze the world just froze. I'll never forget it,” said Jonathan.
Since then, Dwayne organized the first military-wide Pride observance with more than 30 Navy commands at Navy Personnel Command in Tennessee.
The couple was also featured in a DoD video about spousal benefits after the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
“I also love that I have become a role model for LGBT service members so they can know they can also succeed in the Navy and have a good life and also serve their country," said Dwayne.
This year, which marks their first Pride festival as a married couple, Dwayne and Jonathan were joined by an estimated 200 fellow service members.
According to Jonathan, his husband’s promotion to master chief shows the progress gay service members have made in the past few years.
“That sent a really, really good, clear message: walls are falling and walls are being broken down,” said Jonathan.