• Julianne Randles

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

September 20, 2011, I was sitting behind the ops desk in the 86th FTS at Laughlin AFB, TX just doing my work when the Top 3 turned on the news. “’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ has been repealed,” is the first thing heard. This began a huge conversation among the pilots surrounding me. Meanwhile, I was stunted... When I joined the Air Force in 2008, I was aware that I would not be able to be who I truly was for the duration of my time in service. That was a sacrifice I was willing to make to serve my country. At that time, I was not completely out, only close friends knew about my true identity. My reality altered overnight, and I was lost. During this time, I was single and not truly looking for anything. Then a wonderful person fell into my life, and I became conflicted because they wanted to come visit me, but I was not sure how others would receive them. I took the chance though... She came out to visit during a huge base event that I was helping organize. When she got there, she originally was not going to help me with the event, but a close friend of mine convinced me it would be okay if she wanted to help. Which of course, she did want to help. After we did all the setup and prep work, a lot of the organizers wanted her to come to the event and she was intrigued, too. A combat dining out is quite the experience. My friend and I were able to pull together some of our old torn up uniforms to allow my “date” to fit the part (attire was warrior theme). I remember having a meltdown prior to the event because this was it, MY OFFICIAL COMING OUT AS BISEXUAL in the military. We got to the event early because I was one of the lead coordinators, so when everyone started trickling in I had her at my squadron’s table and intermittently would go and check to make sure she was comfortable or needed anything. As the night progressed the wives of the pilots in my squadron told me I was a lucky lady and that I needed to hold on to her. This warmed my heart and made me queasy at the same time. It was not until my Director of Operations, a man I still admire, showed me acceptance that I knew I could continue to embrace who I was in this new world of asking and telling. Throughout my time in service, I have done some amazing things that I still often pinch myself in disbelief of having the opportunity to do. Moving to Germany at 19, deploying to Iraq, flying in a F-16, leading teams during exercises, being nominated for numerous quarterly and annual awards, receiving multiple medals... None of this amount to saying I was serving as a closeted LGBTQI+ community member until September 20, 2011, to coming out as bisexual to my peers in the military at 22 (which led to coming out to my family at 25), to sitting in San Francisco on my birthday, Jun 26, 2015, learning I had the right to marry male or female. This brought me to tears as one of the best and most memorable birthdays (brought me to tears writing this). The fight that those in the community before laid down to make this pivotal moment happen is more than recognized in my pride of flying the LGBTQIA+ flag and the everyday grace of being out and proud without having to hide my identity. Those that fought for our right to marry and did not get to live to see the momentous occasion are honored today as we continue to celebrate Pride and the anniversary of the ability to marry and love who we want.

Julianne Randles, M.S., APCC Bio: https://www.coherenceassociates.com/julianne-randles-appc

Coherence Associates, Inc.

(760) 942-8663

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