Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew Majeski gives Albert Mack, the former manager of JBM-HH’s Army Sub-stance Abuse Program, an award for being the guest speaker during this year’s Pride Month. Photo by Maj. Sheena Rubin

Former ASAP manager shares a personal coming out story

Since 2012, the Department of Defense has celebrated the LGBQT community through observances during June, which is also called Pride Month.

On June 25, Albert Mack, the former Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Army Substance Abuse program manager, spoke about his coming out experience.

Mack, an Air Force retiree said that he’s a 60-year-old openly gay man with three sons and two grandsons. He pointed out that his experience was a little differ-ent from others.’

“I hope what I say today will help peo-ple see things from a different perspective and change the way we treat each other as human beings,” said Mack.

He added that it’s important to assist those who are in the LGBTQ community and reach out because it’s important to help young people who are struggling with their sexual identity.

“Those of us who are already out in the LGBTQ community can reach out to young people and foster their development,” he said. “(Some) teens are struggling with their sexual identity (and helping them can) help build their self-esteem. They need to be success in the future as young adults.”

Mack pointed out that being gay doesn’t define a person, it’s just a part of that per-son.

Coming out for Mack wasn’t done by having a conversation with a friend, it happened during a conversation he had with his then 16-year-old son while driv-ing him to school. His son asked him a question and Mack decided to be honest and admit to being gay.

“I was really nervous and I decided to be honest,” explained Mack. “I answered the first part of the question and the second question he asked me was, ‘does that mean you are gay?’ At that moment I made the decision to be totally honest with him and I told him yes. Not know-ing what would happen once I said that, I asked ‘how do you feel about that?’ He said, ‘you’re my dad and I love you.’ and he reached over while I was driving and gave me a hug and that changed my entire life … sexual orientation is a journey.”

When Mack told one of his longtime friends, he was gay, he didn’t receive a different response. His friend said, “I thought you were going to tell me you were Black.”

“I expected a lot of things to go wrong,” he said.

Mack stressed the importance of becom-ing involved in the LGBTQ community. He said there are opportunities to volun-teer at youth facilities or shelters.

“There are a lot of folks in the LGBTQ community (who) need guidance and men-torship to help them develop into healthy human beings,” he said. “I want to encour-age you to remember that being gay does not define a person it is a part of that indi-vidual, their personality, their appearance their morals — the goodness of their heart is still the same.

“Once you are exposed to that you can either be a positive influence to that indi-vidual or you can be a negative influence. I hope through this message you will be a positive influence to those people and pro-vide them with the love and support they need to develop as healthy happy human beings and accepted in our society.”