Preston-based soldier Corporal Damian Dagg had an extra thing to celebrate at the Pride March in London this weekend - he proposed to his partner.
Damian, 30, first met musician Joshua Thorne during the Pride in London celebrations exactly a year ago, so it was fitting he choose the same moment to pop the question after the parade this year.
An Army medic with 64 Medical Squadron in Preston, Damian proposed to Joshua, from the Army Medical Services Band, in front of assembled troops from all three services and MOD civilian staff who had marched in the parade.
The crowd cheered as he got down on one knee to make the proposal.
The MOD celebrated the contribution its LGBT+ personnel make to Defence at this year’s Pride event in London.
Almost 200 Armed Forces and civilian Defence personnel marched in this year’s parade, marking the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales.
Damien, from Accrington, is a student nurse with Lancashire Teaching Hospitals in his civilian career. He became an Army reservist in 2012 and says he has never looked back.
The parade was a show of support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and LGBT+ Armed Forces staff, and was one of a number of celebratory events staged the Armed Services over the weekend.
It reflects a steady change in attitudes in the Forces regarding homosexuality in recent years and perhaps would have been unthinkable even 15 years ago.
The Army’s Diversity and Inclusivity Champion, Commander Field Army Lieutenant General Patrick Sanders marched alongside the Defence contingent.
He said: “Under fire, no one cares if someone is black or white, gay or straight; an individual should be valued for who he or she is and what they can do.
“Only by fully embracing our diversity will we be set to overcome the varied challenges of the future.
“I’m proud to be the Army’s LGBT champion and straight ally.
“The MOD has come a long way since 2000 when Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) personnel were afforded equality in the Armed Forces; they are now openly encouraged and supported in a community whose watchword is respect”.
He added that the Armed Forces and Ministry of Defence had worked hard over the last 17 years to establish a culture and climate where those who choose to disclose their sexual orientation and/or gender identity can do so without risk of intimidation.