Man standing in the middle of an empty alleyway under a string of pride flags, holding a large Pride flag behind him with both hands. He is wearing a white tank top which reads, “I AM PROUD,” with the word “proud” featuring a rainbow background. He is also wearing white pants with rainbow suspenders next to the pockets. He is wearing red sunglasses with the rims shaped like hearts. On top of his head is a white hat.

Man holding Pride flag ()

Volunteering can be such a fulfilling activity. We are featuring organizations and events for those who are looking to learn more about the services and resources available to them as well as for those who are looking to give back to the community.

I had the pleasure of speaking with the President and Founder of KMC Pride, Natalie Ricketts, about the creation of KMC Pride and how you can get involved.  

After “Storytime at the Library” at the Ramstein library and other Pride Month-related events were canceled in 2022 due to social media backlash, Natalie realized that there weren’t any advocacy groups for the LGBT+ DOD community in the area. She and her wife were upset because “We didn’t expect this from such a large base. There were no advocacy groups here or gay bars in town. We wanted to start a group to help the community.”

She elaborated, “Ramstein is one of the biggest bases overseas. My wife is trans[gender] and the real reason I started it [KMC Pride] is because of her.”

Natalie noted that since forming KMC Pride in September 2022, they have had no issues as a private organization: “We’ve hosted a handful of fundraisers. We had the Pride Picnic … which was super successful. We have not had any backlash or discriminatory comments made towards us.” At the time of writing, their Facebook group has almost 500 members, and the organization has become a safe space for the LGBT+ community in the KMC area: “In the short time that KMC Pride has been active, we’ve had five people come out as gay or trans to me and my wife. Every event KMC Pride has, we have people coming up to us telling us how important it is, or how much it means to them that we have these types of events because they’ve never been to a base that has these kinds of ‘safe space’ events.”

When asked about the most fulfilling aspects of working with KMC Pride, Natalie responded

“Being able to provide those ‘safe spaces’ …to have that community … where you can feel like you can just be yourself … that is why I keep volunteering.”

KMC Pride holds social, community and educational events. They work with the schools and host arts-and-crafts events and youth programs. They host “Lunch and Learn” events around awareness days. They have quarterly socials and monthly social hour on the second Friday of every month. Check out their Drag Race watch parties and participate in trivia night; or, help them clean-up a local area. They hold dances for members of the community who may not have gotten to be their true selves or taken who they wanted to take at their first prom. In the future, the Baumholder chapter will host a monthly story time and an LGBT+ parent support group.

KMC Pride has recently partnered with Operation Deploy Your Dress and the KLSA Thrift Store to create the “Out of the Closet” program. This program provides a “safe space for trans* (non-binary, gender non-conforming) people to try on clothes [and e]xplore a range of clothes to help express your gender identity for prom, homecoming, or any upcoming KMC Pride event.” Learn more about this program here.

Those who want to volunteer must be 18 years of age or older. KMC Pride is registered with the Volunteer Management Information System (VMIS) so volunteers can register their hours. Most of the volunteer work is setting up events and if you volunteer with the set-up, you can attend the event for free. You do not have to be a member of the LGBT+ community to volunteer or attend events. Natalie stated, “We encourage everyone to attend all of our events. We cannot make any change without our allies.” You can join their Facebook group, KMC Pride, to learn more about volunteering.

KMC Pride is a private organization. It is not a part of the Department of Defense or any of its components and it has no governmental status.

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Tamala Malerk is a writer and editor with Stars and Stripes Europe. She has been with SSE since April 2022 writing articles all about travel, lifestyle, community news, military life and more. In May 2022, she earned her Ph.D. in History and promises it is much more relevant to this job than one might think.

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