In the final days of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Navy Operations Specialist Sean Sala decided to do what had never been done before: march with an active duty military contingent in a Pride parade. It was July of 2011, just two months before the end of the policy that barred LGBTQ people from serving openly in the armed forces.


Sean teamed up with San Diego Pride organizer Fernando Zweifach Lopez.  At StoryCorps, they remembered how they pulled it off — and what it was like to see over 200 service members show up at the starting line. 


Top photo: Sean Sala and Fernando Zweifach Lopez at their StoryCorps interview in San Diego, CA on January 5th, 2013. By Luis Gallo for StoryCorps.
Middle photo: Sean Sala and Fernando Zweifach Lopez (center) marching together at San Diego Pride on July 16, 2011. Courtesy of Fernando Zweifach Lopez.
Bottom Photo: Sean Sala (right) marches alongside fellow Navy service members during San Diego Pride on July 21, 2012. That year, the Pentagon issued blanket approval for service members to march in uniform in the San Diego Pride parade. Courtesy of Sean Sala.

Originally aired June 29, 2019, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.