Brig. Gen. William L. Thigpen, deputy commanding general, 4th Infantry Division, presents 1st Lt. Joseph Hargrave, an Intensive Care nurse assigned to Evans Army Community Hospital, with a certificate of appreciation during the closing of Fort Carson’s first LGBT Observance held June 18 at the Elkhorn Conference Center. Hargrave gave a speech during the observance along with three other Soldiers from across Fort Carson. (Photo by Alexandra Shea)
Evans Army Community Hospital teamed with the 4th Infantry Division Equal Opportunity Office to support the first LGBT Pride Month Observance on June 18 at the Elkhorn Conference Center. The observance focused on the U.S. Army’s core value of respect as LGBT Soldiers answer the nation’s call.
The observance began by highlighting a series of firsts that not only included the first time the observance was held on Fort Carson, but also the first openly gay general officer for the active duty component, Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor, the first openly gay Service Secretary, Eric Fanning, and the first openly transgender Soldier in the Army, Staff Sgt. Patricia King.
“This observance honors the legacy and continued contributions of members of the LGBT community to our nation and our Army,” said Capt. Jahncy Franklin, the observance presenter, assigned to G-1, 4th Inf. Div.
Several Soldiers provided testimony during the observance about the struggles of being accepted not only by local community members they live among but also their peers while serving in the military in a time before and during the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Some recounted occasions of prejudice’ such as landlords who found ways to evict them from their home due to their same-sex marriage or being fired from their job based on their sexual orientation and not their performance.
For another speaker, emotions overcame him as he explained how his partner became the rock he never knew he needed or the strength he thought he possessed.
“I’ve never spoken about this in public,” said 1st Lt. Joseph Hargrave, Intensive Care nurse assigned to Evans Army Community Hospital. “I first had an inclination I was gay in the seventh grade. I didn’t want to be gay.”
Hargrave was raised in a conservative and religious town in Utah where he says he grew up in a normal home with his brothers and played sports in school. It wasn’t until he first experienced a want of companionship with other boys that he began to suppress himself. He explained feeling alone and confused during a time before Google, smartphones and reliable internet service.
“There was nowhere for me to go and no one I could ask,” he said.
Hargrave explained how he turned to his religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He participated in a two-year mission to Mexico where he thought if he gave his all to his religion and suppressed his feelings, he would be changed.
He then joined the Army, explaining it wasn’t a need to serve his country that motivated him, it was a chance to get away-an escape.
During a deployment as a medic to Baghdad, Iraq, he confessed to his roommate, for the first time, that he might be gay.
“He said to me …’Doc, I love you’,” said Hargrave. “He then turned over and went to sleep.”
Hargrave had finally met people, fellow Soldiers, who accepted him as he was. Humor crept in as Hargrave continued his story explaining how Fort Polk, Louisiana, was one of his best military assignments. It is where Hargrave met his husband.
“I wouldn’t know what to do without him,’ said Hargrave of his husband. “I hope all of you, one day, find that one person who completes you.”
In September 2015, Hargrave was commissioned into the Army Nurses Corps. With the direction his career was headed in, the continued strength building in his marriage, and the support shown by his peers, Hargrave finally found true happiness.
“I think what the lieutenant and the other speakers said here are a testament of what ‘right’ really looks like,” said Col. Eric S. Edwards, commander, Evans ACH. “I think this (observance) was a great platform to remind us all that we can’t prejudge people and that respect is the foundation of everything we do here.”
1st Lt. Joseph Hargrave, an Intensive Care nurse assigned to Evans Army Community Hospital, was congratulated for his emotional speech and courage for his LGBT Observance Speech by Col. Eric S. Edwards, commander, EACH. The observance was held at the Elkhorn Conference Center June 18 and is the first observance in recognition of LGBT Soldiers who have answered the nation’s call held on Fort Carson. (Photo by Alexandra Shea)
1st Lt. Joseph Hargrave, an Intensive Care nurse assigned to Evans Army Community Hospital, provides an emotional speech during Fort Carson’s first LGBT Observance held June 18 at the Elkhorn Conference Center. Hargrave explained how he struggled as a child to suppress his feelings for male companionship while growing up in a religious and conservative community and joining the military as an escape. He continued his speech by telling the audience of how he confessed to unit members while on a deployment to Iraq about being gay and the support, acceptance and love shown to him after his confession. (Photo by Alexandra Shea)
A wedding photo of 1st Lt. Joseph Hargrave and his spouse Josh taken in New Orleans, Louisiana. Hargraves, an Intensive Care nurse assigned to Evans Army Community Hospital, explained during his LGBT Observance speech that Fort Polk, LA was his favorite assignment since this is where he met his future husband on a fishing trip while assigned there. The two were proudly married in 2015 and was witnessed by 250 close friends, family and battle buddies. (Photo by Alexandra Shea)