CHICAGO – The rock group Boson has a phrase ‘It’s been such a long time’ in their 1976 song titled Long Time. And it could not be truer for a man who began his military career as a student at Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida.
On June 21, 2023, 19,000 baseball fans cheered for U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Brian Dunn, at the Chicago White Sox stadium, on a night that recognized Dunn, along with U.S. Navy Veteran Monica Urbieta who was honored as the “Hero of the Game’ for her service on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. George Washington in the Persian Gulf.
“So that was pretty impactful,” said a clearly elated Dunn. “(What an honor) by the White Sox organization, with my family here on Pride night with my husband, Mike. And to have someone that I served with come up and say hi filled me with a lot of gratitude.”
Before walking to the mound, Dunn exchanged greetings with fellow Army officer, retired Maj. Kelvin Pickens, whom he worked with at Fort Sheridan. Pickens currently works instant replay for the Chicago White Sox.
“When I joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. in 1993 there was an outright ban on service members that identified as (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning),” said Dunn. “Now 30 years later, the military has full support of our LGBTQ service members. The military’s view of our LGBTQ service members has come a long way. I’m very proud to wear my uniform and to be honored here for my military service on Pride night.”
Dunn’s husband, Mike Graves, was equally proud watching from his seat.
“It was a surprise but it’s a great thing. He really deserves it,” said Graves, a Navy veteran who served four years as a Torpedoman’s Mate on a ballistic missile submarine. “He’s a great representative for the Army. He is providing a service above and beyond and he does it happily.”
Ron Skarbek of Wilmette, Illinois, and a White Sox fan, said “It brought chills to me,” as he watched Dunn being applauded by the fans.
Like Dunn, Skarbek started out in ROTC at college and served as an Army officer from 1972 to 1976.
“I was a military police officer. Most of my time was stateside at Fort Gordon, Fort Benning and the Presidio,” said Skarbek.
Throughout history, LGBTQ Soldiers and civilians have bravely served and defended the country, often despite personal challenges and barriers to service.
Before he was assassinated, President John F. Kennedy spoke about diversity during a commencement speech at American University on June 10th, 1963.
“Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal,” he said.”