For the first time in the history of the Honolulu Pride Parade, a gay military color guard will lead the procession through the streets of Waikiki now that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy has been repealed.
Active-duty service members who are also part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community will march Saturday, carrying the flags of the different branches of service.
"Uniforms are out," said Jeffry Priela-Tam, a community liaison for OutServe Hawaii. "They'll probably wear gray shirts with the name of their service. … With change you have to be careful and take things slowly."
This year's gay pride parade and celebration — themed "Time 2 Get Equal!" — will be especially joyous.
"We have a lot to celebrate," said Michael Golojuch Jr., chairman of Honolulu Pride. "It's the first time the LGBT community, since civil unions in Hawaii was enacted, will be able to march together in the pride parade."
Honolulu Pride also applauded the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals' unanimous decision Thursday that the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that defines marriage as only a legal union between a man and a woman and denies federal benefits to same-sex married couples, is unconstitutional.
"Today's unanimous ruling strikes a death blow at the heart of DOMA … by saying we, the LGBT community, have the right to marry the person we love," Golojuch said.
And Hawaii's LGBT community has one more reason to celebrate. "Because our native-born son President Barack Obama … came out in full support of equal marriage rights on May 9, we named him as our grand marshal," Golojuch said.
Priela-Tam, a Navy petty officer said: "Since the repeal (of "don't ask, don't tell"), we haven't seen any (negative) impact whatsoever. My commander's been very accepting. It's been business as usual. We just carry on smartly, as it were.
"It doesn't change the fact that I'm the same person. There's no more suspicion. There's no more looking behind your back."
As for Priela-Tam's personal life: "I proposed five minutes after civil unions were legal. Somebody stole my thunder and got married five minutes after."