Pride Month: LGBT Airmen raise family

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ceaira Tinsley
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
(Editor's note: This is the third article in a series highlighting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month and the unique stories of LGBT Airmen.)

There are no rules for raising a child, it can be a man and a woman, two women or two dads and more and more families are choosing to raise their families in "non-traditional" homes. After growing up in a non-traditional family, where she was raised with two dads one Airman's definition of family is a little different.

Similar to her father and his partner, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Angelica Dealmeida, 23d Equipment Maintenance Squadron munitions flight crew chief, and her partner Senior Airman Tamara Holden, 23d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron administrator, have formed their own non-traditional family; two moms co-parenting Dealmeida's two children from a previous marriage.

"To me a family doesn't have to be any specific or set gender to fill certain roles, whether or not those roles are filled by two women or a man and a woman doesn't matter," said Dealmeida. "A family is just about love and laughter; wherever there is love, there's family.

"My son knows that some people have a mom and a dad and some people don't," said Dealmeida. "For him, it's normal to see me and Tamara together. He just says 'I have a mommy and I have a Tamara.'"

The love felt by the kids is mutual, as Holden views herself as more than just their mother's fiancé.

"I definitely see her kids like they're my own," said Holden, who taught their son to ride his bike and tie his shoes. "[When we met] Jaylaeh was two and Ka'eo was four and I got to see them grow [because] at that time they were babies. They have grown tremendously and I'm glad I was there to witness it."

The connection the family has is growing and the children are adapting to the new addition to their family.

"My kids love her," said Dealmeida. "When we first started dating my son was definitely 'a momma's boy' but now my son just wants to go with Tamara. He wants to have their boy's night, ride his bike and I just think what about me when he says 'bye mom.'"

Although the family is just trying to live a normal life that doesn't stop the judgments they receive from people who don't agree with their lifestyle.

"When we're out as a family sometimes people stare but so far we've never had anyone say anything directly to us," said Dealmeida. "My kids notice it a lot more than we do. When we go to the grocery store or anywhere like that as a family people constantly stare and I usually tell the kids they're staring at us because we're such a beautiful family.

"I don't want the kids to feel like there is something wrong with [having two moms] or our family," Dealmeida added.  We want the kids to grow up loving everyone and not attaching negative stereotypes to [being gay] or anyone."

Despite the negative attitudes the family faces, Holden and Dealmeida are teaching things to combat these feelings with love.

"We just want the kids to be good people, love everyone and be themselves," said Dealmeida. "I'm a firm believer that people are not born with prejudices but they are taught them. We're teaching our kids to love everyone [regardless of their sexualities]."

Similar to many military families, this family has also experienced the challenges of deployments. Just two months into their relationship, Holden was deployed for seven months but they say the deployment brought them closer together.

"When I was deployed, her being there meant a lot because we had just started dating and at that point, she had only seen the kids a few times," said Dealmeida. "She used to do things with them like taking them to the fair and send me pictures, which meant a lot to me and that's when I knew she was a keeper."

After overcoming the obstacles of deployment, the union purchased rings to symbolize their confidence in the love of their family and their commitment to be together.

"They are more than just promise rings," said Holden. "In my mind they're engagement rings. We wear them to show that we are very committed to each other and marriage is going to happen one day."

The sound of wedding bells may be closer than they appear for them with the recent changes made in the LGBT community and legalization of same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

"I'm ecstatic about the decision because my dad and his partner have been together for 18 years and now they are getting married next month," said Dealmeida. "One of the reasons they didn't get married is because same-sex marriage was illegal in Georgia. To see that decision happen made me feel like America and the LGBT community has come a long way."

The military has also come a long way after the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and both ladies agree that they are happy to be a part of Moody's first LGBT Pride Month highlighting the unique stories of the LGBT community.