Ramstein Air Base in Germany, known for canceling a drag event earlier this month, recently hosted a “Pride”-themed story hour for kids at its library. The event, called “Reading with PRIDE,” took place on June 15 and was in celebration of Pride Month. Pictures shared on the official base Facebook page showed volunteers reading inclusive books to children in a room adorned with rainbow colors, including a table designating the area as a “safe space.”
This event followed the cancellation of the planned “Drag Queen Storytime” at the same base due to new guidance from the Department of Defense, prohibiting drag shows on military installations. The directive to ban such events was issued by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin following concerns raised by lawmakers about a series of planned drag shows at bases within and outside the United States.
During a congressional hearing in March, Defense Secretary Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley expressed surprise at the existence of these shows and stated their disagreement with them. The recent event at Ramstein Air Base coincided with the ongoing military recruiting crisis, which some critics attribute, at least in part, to the military’s focus on “woke” policies that have alienated a portion of the population interested in serving.
In response to the controversy, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth rejected the notion that the military was “woke” and attributed the crisis to critics who politicize the military. Ramstein Air Base leadership defended the story hour event, stating that it was approved by command and aligned with a respectful and inclusive culture, as directed by the Department of Defense. They emphasized that attendance was voluntary and that drag events are not hosted at Ramstein AB facilities.
The event highlights the ongoing debate surrounding the military’s involvement in and approach to issues related to diversity, inclusion, and political correctness. Critics argue that such events contribute to politicization within the military, while proponents argue that they foster an environment of acceptance and respect.