in the Heartland
by Pepe Johnson
is recognized as "pride month"
throughout the nation and the
is no exception. Pride festivals and parades offer
the chance for organizations to spread their
message of freedom for all to the community. The
Military Equality Alliance (MEA) sponsored two
booths at pride festivals in Little Rock,
Arkansas; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Total
attendance at the two events topped 20,000!
Rock held its pride festival on Sunday, June 4.
OKCPride sponsored a two-day event on June 24 and
June 25. This was the first time either event had
a booth regarding Donít Ask, Donít Tell. We
passed out MEA brochures and asked visitors to
sign the petition sponsored by Servicemembers
Legal Defense Network (SLDN). Time and again,
visitors thanked us for joining them for their
was stationed at Tinker Air Force Base during the
Gulf War, but I this is the first pride
celebration I have ever attended in Oklahoma
City," said Felix Arrieta, regional organizer
for MEA. Besides Felix, there were many other
veterans at the celebration and a few active duty
servicemembers as well. We made sure that anyone
who said they were active duty, or had friends who
were in the military, took one of the
Servicemembersí Rights cards, also provided by
Felix Arriata, Pepe
Johnson, and John Ames at Little Rock
attendees in both Little Rock and Oklahoma City
were from out-of-town too. In particular we noted
several attendees from Lawton, Oklahoma. Lawton is
home to Fort Sill and the U.S. Army Field
Artillery Training Center.
packing to leave, we visited the other
organizational booths and shared our information
with them. Randi Romo and her organization, the
Center for Artistic Revolution, is an ally of MEA
in Little Rock. Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas all
have great Gay Rodeo Associations. Oklahoma City
is also in the process of forming a chapter of Log
We are in
the planning stages to sponsor more events in
Arkansas and Oklahoma. Arkansas is important to
the passage of the Military Readiness Enhancement
Act as it is the home of Representative Victor
Snyder, a senior Democrat on the House Armed
Services Committee. Oklahoma is the home of
Representatives Dan Boren (D) and Tom Cole (R),
also members of the Armed Services Committee.
These events will include strategy sessions to
determine how best to petition these
representatives for their support.
reading Gay Military Signal and visit our
to keep updated on our efforts in the Heartland.