As “Pride Month” sweeps the nation in the midst of a pandemic and civil unrest, one Texas Airman used his platform as music arranger for the USAF Band of the West to promote a message about LGBTQ identity politics.
Justis MacKenzie, who is based at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, claims his production was inspired by a video on TikTok, an app with development ties to the Chinese Communist Party and one of the many applications the DoD discourages the use of.
In the video, people transformed their outfits from pajamas to fancy outfits. MacKenzie took this a step further by making his own video, in which openly LGBTQ Airmen would transform into their uniforms.
“I just knew that if we could just get to a point where we humanize these people and see them in their daily lives, which is the point of them appearing first in their civilian clothes and in uniform, that might help people understand,” explained MacKenzie. “Many of these people served under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ I think it’s really important to recognize the courage and the leadership that these airmen demonstrated when they chose to publicly represent their community.”
For MacKenzie, it was also a personal matter.
“I have 5 younger siblings. Three of them are gay. And watching them grow up and sort of come into their own as adults taught me a lot of the importance of being a vocal ally,” he explained. “I’m fortunate to have great leadership in the Band of the West.”
While some may criticize the pushing of identity politics in uniform, it seems the USAF was on board with such an exception, and another video may happen next year.
“We are going to have to look into how to make it into a bigger production. Because the bar has definitely been set. But the good news is that we have a whole year to come up with it. And we all have our fingers crossed that we’ll be able to produce this video under different circumstances a year from now,” said MacKenzie.
According to KENS5, the USAF Band of the West is hosting an event that will feature 7 ensembles for July 4th.
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