I joined the Air Force in 2012 under Don’t Ask, Don’t tell. I was forced to hide my relationship at the time in fear of losing everything that I had worked so hard to achieve. That girlfriend in 2012 became my fiancé and I was again forced to hide something that should have been a chapter in my life worthy of celebration. When Don’t ask, Don’t tell was finally abolished, I knew I would no longer need to hide such a special part of my life like I did before, but I did still enter my work place guarded and in fear. I was afraid to be judged and I was afraid to be denied opportunities. Hiding my life became the norm, but when we married in 2013, everything changed for me. I made a commitment to my wife and vowed to always put our marriage first. Since then, my wife and I had twin girls, moved to Japan after they were born and we now live in Germany. We are proud of our family and we are proud to represent the LGBTQ+ community in the military. I will no longer be silent because visibility matters. There are still fights to fight and stories to be told. All we need are people to listen.
Name: Lauren Kalani