USS SHOUP, At Sea - Sailors from guided-missile destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86) have established one of the first gay, lesbian, and supporting Sailors (GLASS) organizations on board a U.S. Navy vessel.
GLASS is a peer-to-peer group for lesbian, gay and bisexual Sailors and supportive members, established with the goal of providing a forum for all Sailors to increase their understanding of the gay community.
Participants are encouraged to express their feelings and questions in an open, nonjudgmental environment.
"Many people are afraid to 'come out' or be honest with themselves," said Fire Controlman 3rd Class Elizabeth Greenwood, one of the original founding members of GLASS. "People need to know that they can be who they are without any backlash. If some of us can put ourselves out there, maybe others will be able to realize that it is okay after seeing this. Having a support system for everyone is huge, whether it is a shoulder to cry on or knowing that there is someone there just in case. We need to show that the gay populace is treated the same as everyone else; this is a very slow process."
GLASS intends to create a strong, cohesive organization and seeks to encourage an environment free of prejudice, bigotry, harassment, and violence.
"I am enthusiastic and excited about having GLASS on board to promote crew members working together to support one another in the challenges faced by afloat Sailors while working to increase camaraderie, team work, understanding of different perspectives, and do community volunteer work." said Commanding Officer Cmdr. Jill Cesari. "I think it is fantastic that FC3 Greenwood worked through the administrative requirements to formally create the organization on board, which required several hours of her personal time, and then promoted it to grow the membership."
When Shoup returns to homeport in Everett, Wash., GLASS members hope to have an established support network within the ship, and be able to give support to the community.
"I have found that Shoup as a whole has been very supportive thus far," said Greenwood. "I can see us working with other groups in the future from this command."
Shoup's GLASS program joins those already in place on board guided-missile cruisers USS Milius (DDG 69), USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) and USS Farragut (DDG 99), the littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2), the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), and the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).
Shoup is deployed with Carrier Strike Group 11 to the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions for Operation Enduring Freedom.