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DIA celebrates Pride Month: ‘Be proud of who you are’

By DIA Public Affairs

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June 20, 2014 — Building on the momentum from last year’s Pride Month event and other Pride events throughout the intelligence community, DIA hosted its second annual Pride Month event June 18 at its headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Kristin Beck, the first openly transgender retired Navy SEAL, was the keynote speaker, and the event featured a panel of military officials at DIA who addressed current issues facing the LGBT community and addressed policies affecting the community in the DOD.

DIA Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s opening remarks stressed the importance of maximizing the potential of every employee at DIA.

“I want everybody to come in every day to be their best,” Flynn said. “I don’t want people to be worrying about who they are or that somebody might say something negative. We can’t live like that.”

Fostering an inclusive and accepting environment that is comfortable and proud of its diversity has been one of the core principles for Flynn during his time at DIA. He concluded his remarks simply, but firmly: “Be proud of who you are.”

Kristin Beck delivered a poignant keynote address, imploring attendees to stop defining an individual simply by what they see on the outside, and accept and respect who that individual truly is on the inside.

“We are all, all of us created equal, and we all deserve equal justice,” she said.

Beck shared her experience in the military as someone who was unable to communicate their true identity and the pain that such a secret can cause.

Born Christopher Beck, Kristin led a distinguished career serving with Special Operations Forces as part of SEAL Team One, SEAL Team Five, SEAL Team Six, and SOCOM Headquarters. She also had a decorated career, and was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor, Purple Heart, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, amongst other awards before retiring in 2011. In 2013, Beck came out as transgender and has since been a staunch advocate of LGBT equality in the military, as well as equality in American society more broadly. She frequently speaks at government-related events, LGBT conferences, as well as other events nationwide.

“The world is looking at us,” Beck explained. “You can change the wallpaper, but I’m still right here. I can still do the job I was doing in uniform.”

Events such as this one allow for a constructive and educational forum that can enable employees and those in leadership positions to understand the diversity of the workforce and work to enhance policies to ensure that every individual is treated equally and enjoys an inclusive and accepting work environment.