Sailors aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) formed a chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Supportive Sailors (GLASS) association to encourage service members to rededicate themselves to equality, dignity and respect for one another, June 21.
GLASS focuses on promoting a workplace free of prejudice, bigotry, harassment and violence through each Sailor’s advocacy, education and outreach. The meetings offer many subjects for discussion in a safe space for free expression. GLASS also promotes visibility of LGB issues, referrals, and academic and leadership opportunities.
"I am glad to say that since the talk of starting up the program we have received phenomenal support from up and down the ranks," said Electronics Technician 2nd Class Tiffany Taylor. "We have been graced with Sailors who are going to great lengths to make sure this program opens up to its full potential, because there is so much positivity that comes from community groups like this."
Programs such as GLASS encourage Sailors to feel comfortable with their sexual orientation allowing an environment free of judgment, with a common goal to unify everyone throughout the service to see one another as a shipmate.
"It is a great opportunity for equality throughout the Navy and ultimately the military as a whole," said Yeoman 2nd Class Tom Mayberry. "I think the way people ostracize others for their sexual preferences is a shallow mindset that negatively impacts the mission. We need to get past seeing people for their choices and look at them as they are, shipmates, peers, and friends."
The meetings course with positive ideas from the few people who run the program. Each individual contributed a way for the association to improve morale, supporting various goals to educate the Sailors aboard and raise awareness throughout the ship. A large bulletin board was hung in the passageway in front of the galley about the timeline of adversity the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community has faced to begin the awareness for this month.
"The official launch of the association is Friday; I can’t say enough how excited each and every person is," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Patrick Felan. "From the captain, all the way down to our newest Sailors, we have received so much support throughout the ship to make this association successful."
The committees of GLASS have successfully held two meetings and a wealth of information was passed around. Sailors spoke passionately about sponsor ideas to host game nights similar to Morale, Welfare and Recreation, giving away gift baskets and raffles, even long term goals to volunteer their time with youth groups for the ship’s return to homeport.
"People are going to want to be a part of this group," said Felan. "It might be foreign to them now but in a short while people will see how much fun we have. I think it is hard for most people to understand this group is a supportive group for everyone, not a support group for Sailors that are gay or lesbian. Yes there are gay and lesbian Sailors, but the goal is for everyone to look past that and be one in the same uniform."
GLASS members plan to host a heritage ceremony this Friday and sponsor numerous activities and events on the ship throughout the deployment.
"Our major purpose behind the group is allowing all of our Sailors to understand one another," said Taylor. "We want to be able to respect one another’s diversity, and show how far we can go with the support of each other as shipmates."
It’s been three years since the first GLASS chapter was initiated in Great Lakes, Illinois, on Feb. 13, 2012. The program is growing throughout the Navy with GLASS chapters being initiated on various platforms, such as destroyers, littoral combat ships, and aircraft carriers. Sailors are tailoring the association specifically to their home command, raising awareness, supporting one another and learning to accept everyone as a single unified Navy.