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Fire Controlman 2nd Class Ann Foster

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month

by Defense Media Activity
10 June 2016 Join us as we celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Sailors and their important contributions to the defense of our nation. In February 2012 Foster, along with her fellow LGBT shipmates, created G.L.A.S.S. (Gay, Lesbian and Supportive Sailors) the first officially chartered gay-straight alliance in the world. It is the first of its kind organization in the United States military.

Q: Why did you decide to join the Navy?

A: I joined the Navy in October of 2010. At that time I was working as a photographer for the Associated Press and several other publications in central Pennsylvania. I suppose that my life to that point was quickly losing any kind of structure and I was looking for something more meaningful and dependable for employment. At this time too, DADT was still being upheld. It wasn't until I left boot camp in February of 2011 that I learned that the repeal had happened. I remember my mother was very concerned about her openly-gay daughter joining the military at the time. I am proud that I was among the last generation of sailors who enlisted when the policy was still in place. I feel like I joined at the end of one era and the beginning of a new one.

Q: Who have your role models or mentors been that have influenced you or helped to guide you throughout your Navy career?

A: I have been very blessed to have several great Chiefs since I've been in the Navy. When I first was starting my program Gay, Lesbian and Supportive Shipmates (GLASS), Chief Boatswain's Mate Dena Reese was my cornerstone and strength when dealing with the hurdles and bureaucracy that came along with starting a Navy program. Now I see her as a true mentor and friend who has stood by me and my program from day one and a fellow activist for the military LGBT community. Also Master Chief Culinary Specialist Dwayne Beebe has been an amazing mentor and advocate in the continuing fight for LGBT military rights.

Onboard my ship, USS Milius, I have had the good fortune to have several amazing Chiefs who have helped me grow both personally and as a Sailor. Chief Fire Controlman Brian Mueller and Chief Gunner's Mate Celestino Martinez are some of the best Chiefs a Sailor could ask for. Also Command Master Chief Bill Houlihan has put his neck out and been one of the most supportive Master Chiefs that the GLASS program has ever had.

Q: What does being a leader in the Navy mean to you?

A: To lead, actions speak far louder than words. I was put in a leadership position the moment I started my organization GLASS because at that time, there was no one else in the military who was trying to do what I was doing. I found myself as a very junior E-4 who had just finished "A" school with absolutely no military experience now leading an entire group of people because we had a common goal. Rank does not denote the ability to lead, desire to lead and willingness to lead are far more important.
VIRIN: 160610-N-OQ305-002

Q: June is Military Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month. What does being an LGBT Sailor in the Navy mean to you? Is there someone from this community that has influenced you, or who has a story that is interesting to you?

A: Being a gay Sailor I feel in a lot of ways is no different than being any other kind of Sailor. We all come from different places and different backgrounds. One of the best parts of being a Sailor is the ability to transcend the typical labels society puts on us and focus on the quality of Sailor you are. As an out lesbian in my command, I find that I often am asked questions regarding the LGBT community by my fellow Sailors. Oftentimes I feel like an ambassador for the community and am able to use my experiences and life as a teaching tool to promote a more inclusive command climate and more tolerant crew. I am proud of who I am, both as a Sailor and a member of the LGBT community, and I feel that is reflected in the way that I serve in the Navy.

Q: What does being an LGBT American and leader in the Navy mean to you and how will you reflect on LGBT Pride Month?

A: As a member of the LGBT community in this country, we have undergone so many changes in the past six years. From the repeal of DADT, the repeal of DOMA, the inclusion of sexual orientation into the DoD's Equal Opportunity policy, the right for the LGBT community to wed in all 50 states and now the fight to allow trans service members to serve openly. Every June it seems a new milestone has been hit and being able to celebrate Pride Month. I was honored to hold command-wide Pride events on board my ship three years running. The day after returning from our last deployment it was announced that I could get married in all 50 states. June always holds a special place in my heart. I cannot describe the feeling of coming home from a deployment to protect the rights and freedoms of my country, to discover that I had finally been granted the same equal rights as my fellow citizens. I think that LGBT Pride Month is such an important celebration because it showcases the contributions and continuing fight of LGBT service members.