Iceman Pride end LGBT month with community picnic
By Senior Airman Ashley Nicole Taylor, 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 02, 2015
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Weather, plagued by smoke, cleared as heavy rains drenched the surrounding Fairbanks community Saturday, but that didn't stop members of the military and local communities from celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride month.
One day after the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage a constitutional right, members of the Iceman Pride hosted a Picnic in the Park event at Nussbaumer Park in Fairbanks to bring together members of the community for an afternoon of games, food and music.
"I wanted to get the community together and thought people would come together for food," said 1st Lt. Shaina Thompson, the 354th Fighter Wing chief of protocol. "Major Jordan had the idea to host the event off-base, so I started scanning the local LGBT Facebook pages to get the word out."
Thompson said she was surprised to see the positive response from the community and the generosity of donations from local businesses and event attendees. All were supporters of LGBT month and each had their own personal reasoning for recognizing the importance of the month.
"Every member of the LGBT community puts a lot at risk when they are open up about who they are," said Senior Airman Ryan Kittle, a member of the 354th Contracting Squadron commander's support staff. "I admire the courage that is required of somebody who is openly LGBT - one of the ways I can acknowledge that courage is by standing next to him or her in support."
Many participants shared their experience, including Sasha and Andrew Frailey-Afanasyev, a couple who has been married for nine months and who recently moved to Fairbanks from Kotzebue, Alaska.
"We're so happy to celebrate marriage equality because we had to go to Washington to get married, but luckily Alaska allowed it two weeks after our marriage," said Sasha Frailey-Afanasyev. "Had Alaska not passed the marriage equality law, we would have been illegally married in our own state, so this is a huge deal to us."
Games such as kickball and corn hole were available and free entertainment was provided by local musician Nick Meurlott, a member of the band Dangerlot.
"I wanted to sing songs for you all about music, love and equality," Meurlott said before performing an original song, "Cardboard Streams Forever." "Music is a great way to bring people together and I'm so happy I can share my songs with you, Meurlott added."
As people slowly left the picnic, attendees shared their final thoughts on the day and expressed hope for future events that can include the community.
"This picnic was perfect timing with the marriage equality law passing and that made it a great gathering between LGBT members and allies," said Capt. Heather Novus, the 354th Fighter Wing sexual assault and response coordinator. "Now we have a date that can bring us together for years to come and I hope more picnics and more get-togethers are scheduled for next year."