Local active duty veteran cleared to display military and gay pride together in parade
Technical Sgt. Nathaniel Boehme of the Portland Air National Guard, an Iraq war veteran, was granted a rare honor in last weekend’s Portland Pride Parade. He was allowed to march in the parade while proudly wearing his military uniform.
Sgt. Boehme will get to repeat the honor this weekend in the Seattle Pride Parade, on June 25th.
His requests to march in uniform in 2015 and 2016 were denied by local unit commanders. Active military members are not allowed to appear in uniform at events without authorization.
"After three years of trying, it's fantastic to see the Air National Guard taking this step to show its commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity and community," Boehme said.
It’s believed that Sgt. Boehme is the first active service member in Oregon or Washington to get approval to march in uniform in a pride parade.
"We are very proud of Nathaniel for his service to our state and nation, both in and out of uniform," said Cameron Smith, director of the Oregon Department of Veteran Affairs (ODVA). "At the same time, we think of the thousands of LGBTQ veterans in our state who previously could not serve their country openly and who may not have accessed the full range of benefits and resources they've earned. We are thankful for all of our veterans' service, and our team and network of veteran service officers are here to assist."
Sgt. Boehme is a third-generation airman, who also serves at ODVA as the nation’s first ever LGBTQ veterans coordinator.