All Blue-Alliance members who have not yet registered on this website will need to Join and be verified prior to accessing any member only content.
We also strive for providing a path for "reconnection" for the many LGBT USAFA alumni who have over time been disassociated from the Academy and the AOG because of their sexuality or gender identity.
Blue Alliance is in positive and timely communication with Air Force Academy officials and they are aware of our concerns related to the media accounts of the employment of Dr. Mike Rosebush. The Academy has embarked on an honest and comprehensive assessment of all aspects of this situation. Therefore, Blue Alliance awaits the results of this analysis, looks forward to a full,correct and factual account, and trusts that our concerns, most especially the well-being of the Air Force Academy Spectrum cadets and allies, are being heard and are a part of this discussion.
Blue Alliance is proud to host our 4th Annual Dinner themed "Stories in Character" on Saturday 2 November 2013 immediately after Air Force beats Army!! The Dinner will be at the Eisenhower Golf course. The folks there did a tremendous job putting on an excellent buffet and bar last year, however, they can only handle 120 guests so please RSVP ASAP via the website. RSVP even if you cannot attend. Our goal is 100% participation in some way, shape, form or fashion! Here's how you can participate.
First! Email us your "Story in Character" This story should be about a test of your character and does not have to be LGBT related, but rather just a real life example of character development. Preferably from your time in service but can also be from your civilian life. These stories will be compiled into a booklet for our members, cadets, and the Academy. Please email your stories to Trish Heller at Trish@blue-alliance.org The deadline is Sept 15th!
Second! Join us for the dinner on November 2, 2013 at the Eisenhower Golf Course. Host Hotel is anticipated to be the Antler's Double Tree and Tickets are available via the form link below. Annual Face to Face Board meeting will be that Friday night and all members are welcome to attend.
Third! Donate to Blue Alliance by sponsoring a cadet dinner ticket.
Please RSVP (regrets included) using the links below.
Please click on the "Go to Webform" link below for a reserved seat. All cadets and their guests are hosted free of charge for the Dinner by members of the Blue Alliance Alumni.
Karl Alvarez '84
Excellence in All We Do: Disappearing into the Crowd
My mother lived her life by a simple credo: “Fools names and faces appear in
public places.” She taught my siblings and me to let our actions speak for us. As
with most of her lessons, Mom’s values made a difference during every day I
spent at the Zoo and in every interaction I had in the Air Force.
As a doolie, I’d tried to hide from the fact that every person at USAFA knew and
liked my brother, Bobby ’81. By my two-degree year, I found myself hiding in
plain sight. I’d learned the lesson from Basic Cadet Training: Don’t be at the
front of any line. Don’t be at the back either! My most vivid memory of school
was of a lone walk across the Terrazzo in the wind and snow, not of friends or
fun. While my class was celebrating our last night before our service
commitment took effect, I realized why I wasn’t like anyone around me. My
initial reaction was one of fear. Then, on Mom’s example, I became resolute that
“that” won’t define me. I convinced myself that I could manage this and any
other challenge, giving not a single thought to the fact that “that” could get me
bounced from the Academy and the Air Force.
After the med-board removed me from Pilot Training, I found that I civilianized
my language. I spoke to people about my experiences in ‘college,’ replaced
‘doolie’ with ‘freshman,’ and rarely referenced that I’d graduated from a service
academy. Without realizing it, I’d removed all plural pronouns from my lexicon,
merely referencing that, for example, I’d gone on vacation despite the friends
and boyfriends with whom I’d actually gone. My only remaining contacts to my
alma mater were the unsinkable Gina Brown ’85 and ever-stalwart Trish Heller
These two friends invited me out of my self-imposed exile and allowed me to
recognize my deep commitment to the Academy and to the amazing people I’d
known there. I had been convinced when I went to my 20th reunion no one
would remember me.
Agreeing to attend my 20th reunion with me and my partner, John, Gina and
Trish made my homecoming one of heartfelt pride. While I was asked various
times if I’d actually graduated with ’84, I also found in myself a desire to
rekindle those few friendships that had been so important to me as I sought to
get comfortable in my own skin. The distance I’d built between me and the
Academy had been unnecessary. I am both successful and a proud USAFA grad.
September 20, 2011, represented to me a day when I could quietly say to myself:
“my service mattered.” I look forward to a strong, respectful, and affirming
relationship with the place that taught me who I am.
As a man who has over 1,500 unique contacts in my address book, of which less
than 50 are Academy related, I have a long way to go in reaching out to USAFA
to make my service fully matter. I welcome the new challenge!
Karl Alvarez | USAFA Class of 1984
Blue Alliance was very proud to send off its first openly gay and lesbian grads last year with a Leadership Atlas. Our ask is that all our membership contributes some advice to our grads of 2013. You can download last years atlas with the link below.
By Mike Challman, USAFA ‘85
A few years ago, I was fortunate to reconnect (God bless Facebook!) with a classmate and friend, Darrel Slack. Through him, I learned of an organization that had formed to bring together GLBT alumni. When Darrel told me that the Blue Alliance also welcomes the participation of ‘straight allies’, I was happy to join. I did so as a statement of support for those whom the Blue Alliance serves, and as a way to honor Darrel and my other friends and family members who are part of the GLBT community. Since that enthusiastic joining I’ve done… well, not much of anything.
So why speak up now? Because another friend suggested to me not long ago that my support of GLBT rights is nuanced at best and disingenuous at worst.
I can understand that perception, and here is why. I support gay marriage rights, but at the same time I remain a committed member of the Catholic Church. I simultaneously believe that it should be a fundamental right to marry the person of one’s choosing regarding of gender, and also that the Church has a right to recognize (or not recognize) a marriage based on what it considers to be a valid, sacramental union according to its tenets. Some tell me that these two beliefs are incompatible; I disagree. They also tell me that the second belief is objectionable and offensive; I am sorry they feel that way.
Wouldn’t it be simpler if everyone on the “pro” side of GLBT rights believed exactly the same things in exactly the same way? Of course, that is unrealistic. People are distinctive and unique, each a one-of-a-kind amalgamation of opinions, beliefs, and biases.
So where exactly does my support rest? To me, the argument is simple. GLBT rights are NOT a religious or moral issue --- they are a social justice issue. It is a basic civil right to marry the person that you love regardless of gender; it is a basic civil right for GLBT service members to serve openly in the military (God bless those who drove a stake into DADT!); it is a basic civil right to live and work in an environment free from discrimination and hate; and it is especially a basic and crucial civil right for young people to grow into who they are without fear of bullying or persecution.
USAFA is far in the rear view mirror now, but I remember what it taught. One of the first lessons I learned is to stand up for one another --- remember hearing your classmates getting jacked up in the hall and barreling out there to stand with them? It wasn’t our first choice of where to be, but we had a solemn obligation to our comrades. Similarly, the most fundamental lesson that I took from USAFA is to live and act with honor and integrity --- even when it is not easy for us or popular with others, including our faith community.
I proudly stand with the GLBT alumni. There may be some aspects of the issues on which we don’t see completely eye-to-eye, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot stand resolutely shoulder-to-shoulder. I think it starts with publicly announcing my allegiance with the Blue Alliance --- I encourage others to do the same. I don’t even think it’s important to wear the label of ‘straight ally’ – I’d rather be just an ally, and more importantly a trustworthy friend.
By Devin Dwyer of ABC News
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Eight months after a repeal of the military’s “don’t ask , don’t tell” policy, the U.S. Air Force Academy today graduated its first group of openly gay cadets.
As President Obama addressed the graduates, no rainbow flags could be seen on display. The LGBT students couldn’t be picked out of the crowd of white and blue.
But gay and lesbian advocates, academy alums, school officials and current students said they were there.
“The whole thing is we don’t want to be identified as anything different,” said Trish Heller, who heads the Blue Alliance, an association of LGBT Air Force Academy alumni. “We want to serve, to be professional and to be symbols of what it means to be Air Force Academy graduates.”
Heller said her group had connected with at least four members of the class of 2012 receiving diplomas today who had come out publicly as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. There were likely others, but they preferred to keep a low-profile, she said.
Conversations with dozens of current academy students and some new graduates presented a picture of a smooth transition from the military’s ban on openly gay service members serving to the repeal of that ban. There have been no major incidents of overt discrimination or harassment since the policy was repealed in September.
But many signaled the change in policy would continue to hold a tender and personal meaning for those cadets who were weighing the decision to come out of the closet.
“It’s just been really open, a lot of acceptance. I haven’t heard anyone say, ‘I hate this. I can’t serve in the military with this,’” said 3rd Class Cadet Kevin Wise, a second-year management major. “It’s a sense of ‘OK, this is their lifestyle, but they’re still the person I’ve spent 21 credit hours a semester next to or I’ve gone through this with,’” he said.
Wise said he knew several classmates who chose to come out in the past few months. “Honestly, for me, it was, ‘Oh well, I kind of had a suspicion since I’ve known you for two years now, but you just move on,” he said.
“There wasn’t any sort of repercussion against them or anything,” said 2nd Lt. Jenny Kavalstan of her gay classmates who graduated with her today. “I thought of them the same way I did before; most people do.”
Acacia Miller, a sophomore from Shreveport, La., praised the school’s leadership for setting the right tone before the repeal. “They did a good job preparing us. There were lots of briefings about it. They stated how the military was going to go forward with it, how we should act. It was pretty much just like any other repeal, segregation, all that stuff. We just got told this is what’s going to happen and we all need to be adults about it,” she said.
Gay cadets at all the U.S. military service academies have been forming clubs and support groups, slowly making their existence known online and at campus social events. The Air Force Academy group – called Spectrum – was officially sanctioned earlier this month and had about 30 members from across all classes, the organizers said.
The Air Force Academy’s administration has also allowed the Blue Alliance to have a more high-profile role on campus. The group flew rainbow flags during a tailgate party before a home football game in November, Heller said, and hosted a dinner attended by the dean of faculty, Gen. Dana Born. In February, the group participated in a campus leadership symposium, she said.
“Things have gone very smoothly at the academies since repeal,” said Sue Fulton, a 1980 West Point graduate and spokeswoman for the LGBT military advocacy group OutServe.
The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was approved by President Clinton in 1993 as a compromise toward ending a long-standing ban on allowing homosexuals to serve in the military. Gay service members could enlist but had to keep quiet about their sexual orientation. Advocates said it essentially forced them to live a lie.
Congress passed a law in 2010 formally ordering repeal of the policy. After a period of preparation and training for lifting the ban, the Pentagon gave the green light for final certification in September 2011.
“Basically, it was just another day when DADT was repealed,” said Air Force Academy spokesman John Van Winkle. “No big changes, no real growing pains. Most of American society has become much more accepting of the LGBT community over the years since President Clinton made the forward-thinking choice in the early ’90s to go from a strict no-gay policy to DADT.”
Advocates said they never believed the repeal would prove problematic on campus, given that younger generations of students were generally more accepting of homosexuality, and the military’s commitment to following the rules set by leaders.
“In dealing with cadets every day,” Heller said, “the bigger issue going forward is what every kid goes through in coming out at that age – dealing with your family, coming to terms with yourself, what does it mean to me personally – that is the real focus and challenge.”
by Karl Alvarez ‘84
On March 31st, I had the honor to represent ZoomU and Blue Alliance at the Inaugural KnightsOut Dinner at West Point. Conceived at our Blue Alliance Celebration in November 2011, the dinner was WoopU’s first opportunity to ‘come out’ on campus. The event hosted about 95 people with almost 35 cadets in attendance. Andrew Fitsimmons and Nate Gooden who attended our Blue Alliance Celebration were in attendance.
The dinner was like our first event: a very formal, military affair. 1LT Chris Antal, an Army Reserve chaplain, opened with a remarkable prayer that addressed every challenge to LGBT integration in the Army and at West Point. Lieutenant Antal’s parish, a Unitarian Universalist congregation close to the Academy, made a large contribution to KnightsOut and donated the evenings ‘take away’ in the form of a small book [looks a LOT like my ’84 Contrails] called “Bless All Who Serve.” Each copy of the book was personally dedicated to its recipient by Lt. Antal. Late in the evening, Chris mentioned that each cadet in attendance had taken a book and he wanted to send a copy to our cadets. I, therefore, traveled home with three copies for our graduating Firsties.
KnightsOut had four cadets and a cadet candidate speak about life at the Academy after repeal of DADT. There are significant regulatory obstacles to interactions between cadets and preppies at West Point. The Prep School recently moved onto the campus. The presentation of a cadet candidate marked a significant tide-change in the discussion of LGBQ members at the Military Academy.
I had the additional honor of being placed at the same table as Aubrey Sarvis, the outgoing Executive Director of Servicemembers’ Legal Defense Network (SLDN). Andrew Fitzsimmons was also at our table and provided a unique perspective on cadet life. The evening was built around the presentation of an important award to Jonathan Hopkins, USMA ’02, who was discharged under DADT but continued to assist DoD in implementation of repeal. John was highly decorated and has been one of the many faces of DADT in the media. A straight-ally, classmate of John’s detailed the character and leadership that John Hopkins brought to every unit in which he worked. The award itself was “a big cadet head” which was completely lost on this Zoomie so familiar with awards being in the shape of elegant birds.
Lessons I learned at WoopU: 1) We did a good thing in November with our dinner of historic significance, 2) Cadets have more interesting things to say than most of us, 3) We’d be well-served to attract national LGBT leaders to future dinners, 4) Blue is prettier than gray and less draining on my happy-meter, and 5) KnightsOut and Blue Alliance must work, in conjunction with USNA Out and groups from Coast Guard and Merchant Marine, to identify and celebrate our common values and missions. Our support of our cadets can only benefit from this cross-feed of goodwill and bonhomie
|A free public presentation for the broad Colorado Springs community.
Thursday, May 3rd, 7:00 − 9:00 pm
Shove Chapel on the Colorado College campus
1010 N. Nevada Avenue, Colorado Springs
Col Gary Packard
USAFA Behavioral Sciences Department Head
Abstract: The 1950 guidebook for military officers titled “The Armed Forces
Officer” states “the nature of loyalty requires that (the commissioned
officer) will use his force toward the righting of those things which reason
convinces him are going wrong.” How does one “right the wrongs” without
compromising one’s Oath? Col. Gary Packard will share his personal
journey, experiences as a writer on the DoD study of the DADT repeal, to
include a summary of the process and major findings, and lessons he
learned along the way to walk the walk on difficult social issues with
The views expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily
represent the policy of the United States Air Force Academy or any other
Featured presenter: Col. Gary Packard, Permanent Professor and Head of
the Department of Behavioral Sciences & Leadership at the USAFA. A
USAFA graduate, he has served our nation in the Air Force for close to 30
years, over ten years of that as an instructor at the Academy. Col Packard
will present on this topic for about 45 min, as he has done at various
campuses. There should be close to an hour for Q&A with the audience.
Sponsors: PFLAG Colorado Springs is the organizing sponsor. Other local
co-sponsors include the Colorado College Chaplains’ Office, The Pride
Center, The Diversity Forum, Citizens Project, and the Blue Alliance.
PFLAG point of contact: Bill Oliver, firstname.lastname@example.org
by Steven M. Samuels & Col. Gary A. Packard
AF Times, 6 Feb 2012, p. 24
Despite strong opposition that integration would harm military effectiveness, President Truman mandated the end of military segregation in 1948. When skeptical soldiers in Korea were forced to fight in integrated units, they discovered that with the bullets flying, what mattered was one’s ability to shoot straight; not one’s race.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” was based on an argument similar to segregation: gay men and lesbians would reduce cohesion and effectiveness in military units. This decision was made primarily on personal convictions rather than evidence that showed actual negative impact. In 2010, the Defense Department rigorously studied the impact of repeal, concluding that, “the U.S. military can make this change, even in this time of war.”
Col Gary Packard
USAFA Behavioral Sciences Department Head
We all come into organizations with our own preconceptions born of our own provincialisms. Through interaction with diverse people, we break down our prejudices as we learn more about our teammates and become stronger as a unit. The data from the 2010 DoD study indicated that service members who believed there were no gay men or lesbians in their units were the most likely to view repeal negatively.
History and social science research inform us that as we get to know lesbian and gay service members, stereotypes will fade, even for those with honest personal disagreements about homosexuality. Thus, while the negative impact of DADT on gay men and lesbians was glaringly apparent, the impact on straight people was real but less obvious. For many straight people, the ability to truly get to know the gay men and lesbians in their units was stifled by the secrecy mandated by DADT.
Our Oath of Office demands that we support our nation’s laws; thus, under repeal, toleration is the minimum behavioral expectation of every service member.
Dr. Steve Samuels
USAFA Behavioral Sciences Faculty
However, military strength is not built on toleration. Strength requires acceptance and, ultimately, respect and inclusiveness for all who volunteer to serve. We must value our colleagues for who they are and not who we want them to be. In a healthy unit, a gay, agnostic man respects the dignity of the straight, evangelical woman, and she does the same. Through respect we discover, like soldiers in Korea, that with the bullets flying, what matters is training and ability, not the gender of one’s partner waiting at home.
Re-examining our relationships is difficult because we all fear that change will come at the cost of our own identity and personal beliefs. This fear is normal, and it occurred with both racial and gender integration. However, in both cases, we became stronger as a military despite early anxieties.
We believe repeal has challenged us to take a risk and honestly confront our fear of change.
Those who have genuinely entered this journey will walk toward a truer integrity and a more honest ability to value our peers and serve our nation. We are better servants to the nation as a result of our personal struggles with diversity, and we look forward to others joining us on the journey.
Steven M. Samuels, Ph.D. and Col. Gary A. Packard, Jr., Ph.D. are professors in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Col. Packard is Permanent Professor and Head of the Department and served as a writer on the Department of Defense’s Report of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Dr. Samuels has served on the Academy’s faculty since 1993 and is published in the areas of diversity and privilege. He served as an advisor and subject matter expert on the DoD study.
The views expressed above are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the policy of the United States Air Force Academy or any other government agency.
Tricia Heller '87
Blue Alliance is proud to welcome Tricia Heller as our new Executive Director. We are excited about the direction of Blue Alliance for the coming year, and thankful for Trish's leadership.
Service Before Self: These Lines Across My Face
"The Story" by Brandi Carlile starts,
"all of these lines across my face,
tell you the story of who I am,
so many stories of where I've been,
and how I got to where I am,
but these stories don't mean anything when you've got no one to tell them to . . ."
These lines resonate with me as I consider my story from the Academy and career in the Air Force. The lines in my face do show the pride, the joy, the fraternity and the sense of accomplishment in a mission complete. But the lines also show the hurt, the intense stress, the sadness and the sorrow. The dichotomy of being a good cadet, officer, pilot, leader and person was always in conflict with the policy that could never let me be COMPLETE in the Air Force.
I served my country for over 16 years trying to embody the core values of the Air Force every day - integrity, service before self and excellence in all that I did. It truly was service before self though, because in the end I saw that a policy ultimately comprimised the very essence of who I was. In the end I had to have integrity with myself every day, because I was truly proud of who I was and who I loved and all of what we represented and offered our community and country.
I'm truly grateful and proud of my Academy and Air Force roots - it made for the best lines across my face - as it gave me my professional foundation and more important my best friend and life-long partner Regina. And now the lines show the smile across my face as the circle and mission is complete because everyone can serve with integrity and excellence in all they do and all of who they are.
Tricia A. Heller | USAFA Class of 1987
Greg Mooneyham '87
When I graduated in 1987, I literally looked at USAFA in my rear view
mirror as I drove away and was relieved that I did not have to go back. I
had 60 days leave and the pressure would be off until UPT. Little did I
know that UPT and my career as a pilot would present even greater
challenges and pressures. USAFA prepared me well to meet those days
ahead. But there was always one thing that nothing could prepare me for
and one thing that was my burden to bear alone. I was a gay cadet, I was
a gay officer, and I was a gay Fighter Pilot. The enormous pressure to
conform, to hide my true self and to always be just a little separated from
my fellow cadets, officers, and fighter pilots was the greatest pressure of
all. It was the main factor in my decision to leave the service that I truly
Years after looking at USAFA in my rear view mirror, I returned. I have
now come back many times and I have the same experience each time. In
spite of the separation I felt from my fellow service members, I never felt
separated from this place. I feel a deep connection here that I find hard
to explain. The changes that this school made in me were profound. In
many ways I feel as if I was born here. No Air Force policy and no
amount of bigotry or hatred could change that. I belonged because I met
the same challenges as all others. When I returned for my 20 year
reunion, I was honest with my classmates for the first time about who I
really was and it was liberating.
So, only one thing for me was missing. Full acceptance for all LGBT
military personnel would finally allow all to serve with integrity and
excellence in all that they do. When that day finally came, things
changed. It may be too late for me to serve again but finally I no longer
feel that separation from my fellow cadets, officers, and fighter pilots. I
feel welcome here at Doolittle Hall. I walk the paths outside and weep
for those that have fallen. I paint my face blue and cheer for the Falcons.
These mountains, these buildings, these memorials, and these
monuments always welcomed me back. And now finally the Air Force
welcomes me back too.
Greg Mooneyham | USAFA Class of 1987
Our annual dinner and Board meeting was held in Colorado Springs over the November 4th weekend. The Board and I came away from this event more excited and energized than ever. I wanted to give you guys the highlights and let you know where we are headed for next year.
We held our Board meeting on Friday night at the Marriott. The entire Board was present along with other guests. The Executive VP of the AOG, Mr Gary Howe was there to talk with us about our newly minted affinity status and how the AOG could be supportive of our organization. One of our long term allies, Mr. Steve Samuels from the Behavioral Sciences Dept also came to talk with us about the upcoming NCLS (National Character and Leadership Symposium) conference in February. He has been working to get a LGBT panel added to the Symposium and asked if we could participate. More to follow as this great opportunity develops. Steve Hall, the executive director from USNA Out also attended and offered his experience to help us with our future direction. You can see his writeup about the weekend on the website. Finally, Kevin Highfield '87 came to be interviewed and was elected as our newest Board member!
Overall the Board meeting lasted an astonishing 5 and a half hours. But so much was accomplished as we look to the work to be done in the New Year. We are establishing several new committees to address a host of new issues. I will detail those at the end of this message. We are looking for members who are willing to help out with the new committees. This is important and exciting work and we are looking forward to our best year ever in 2012.
The next morning we all met again at the first ever Blue Alliance Tail Gate for the Army Game! You can see some of the pictures on the website and the Facebook page. We had the rainbow flags flying and enough food and drink to make it a great time for all. This was the first time we had a real chance to interact with the newly emboldened LGBT cadets. We had cadets from both USAFA and USMA come to the tailgate. Off to the game where things started out a little rough but the Falcons pulled it together in the second half to bring home the Commander and Chief's Trophy for the second year in a row. That made dinner a little more festive!
Our second annual dinner was held immediately following the game in Doolittle Hall. We had about 63 guest for the reception and dinner. One of the first guest to arrive was the Dean of Faculty, Gen Dana Born. I think she gets preferred parking at the game so it was an easy out of the Stadium! Once again we had almost 30 cadets in attendance .... thanks to all of you who sponsored cadets to the dinner. We could not have done it without your help! The dinner was a "Celebration of Equality" that was meant to be fun and inspirational. I think we nailed it. As I was preparing to open the dinner... I had to take a step back from the podium ... I truly felt humbled... I was looking at something that I never thought I would see in my lifetime.... this dinner had cadets, alumni, USAFA Staff, AOG Staff, friends and family... and all were having a great time.
We asked Steve Hall from USNA Out and Sue Fulton from Knights Out to take a few minutes to fill us in on happenings at their schools. Dr Adis Maria Vila, the Academy Chief Diversity Officer was the keynote speaker. Her remarks made it clear that she is an ally and someone we can count on for support. She opened the floor for questions and was gracious in her responses.
We closed the dinner with my remarks on the future of Blue Alliance and where we are headed in 2012. We also opened the floor to questions.
My takeaway... we have a lot of work to do... including working with the cadets. These guys/girls are stepping out in a big way and are showing no fear in their organization efforts. More about that soon!!
So.... we have organized a few new committees and we are looking for help! Here they are:
1. Cadet Relations
2. Media Relations
3. Membership Growth and Involvement
4. Family Support
5. Outreach to Fellow Organizations (We are working on this title)
6. Executive Relations
Each of these committees has several sub categories that they will be working on. If you have interest in helping in these areas, please let us know.
Thank you all for a very successful 2011! Have a great Holiday Season and we look forward to working with so many of you in the New Year!
Greg Mooneyham '87
You can now order a variety of clothing and household articles with the Blue Alliance logo on it from Company Casuals Follow the link and select the articles, colors and sizes and watch as the website builds your custom article with the Blue Alliance logo on it.
By DAN ELLIOTT
DENVER (AP) - Gay and lesbian Air Force Academy graduates plan to maintain a higher profile at events surrounding next month's home football game against Army now that "don't ask, don't tell" has been repealed.
A gay and lesbian alumni group called the Blue Alliance will display a rainbow flag and a Blue Alliance banner at its tailgate party before the Nov. 5 game on the academy campus north of Colorado Springs.
The Blue Alliance's annual dinner, which takes place on campus after the game, is drawing some high-ranking academy officials, including the dean of faculty, Gen. Dana Born, an academy spokesman confirmed Tuesday.
Also planning to attend is Adis Vila, the school's chief diversity officer.
"It's been very gratifying," said Greg Mooneyham, executive director of the Blue Alliance, describing the school's response since the repeal of the ban on gays and lesbian serving openly in the military. "We're very happy about it."
Mooneyham said he expects as many as 30 cadets to attend the dinner, as well as some West Point cadets who'll be on campus for the Army-Air Force game.
The Pentagon formally lifted the 18-year-old ban last month after taking the steps Congress required in a 2010 law to reverse the policy.
That allowed the Association of Graduates, the academy's alumni group with headquarters on campus, to make the Blue Alliance an "affinity group," a chapter based on a common interest rather than geographic location, said Gary Howe, the Association of Graduates executive vice president.
"We embrace any group of people who want to help the academy," Howe said Tuesday.
"What had prevented us from granting affinity group status to the Blue Alliance was simply that they were in opposition to Air Force policy, 'don't ask, don't tell.' Now that 'don't ask, don't tell' has been repealed, we welcome them," Howe said.
Howe plans to attend the Blue Alliance dinner, along with a meeting of the alliance's board of directors.
The alliance had a presence at the academy before the ban was repealed, renting meeting space from the Association of Graduates' on-campus office building and buying a "go Air Force"-type booster ad in the association's magazine, Howe said.
Their participation was legal because they were out of the service and not covered by the ban, he said.
The Blue Alliance planned to hold its 2010 annual dinner at the Association of Graduates office but it had to be moved off campus because academy commanders deemed it to be a political gathering, which is barred on military property, Howe said. Among other things, at least one congressman was expected to attend during an election year and while repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" was being debated in Congress, he said.