by Evan Stambaugh
Since 2019, the United States government has spent roughly $85,000 on advertisements for the National Guard in a Minnesota-based magazine geared towards the “LGBT community.”
The Washington Free Beacon reports that the U.S. Department of Defense has awarded tens of thousands of dollars in advertising funds to Lavender, a general interest print and digital magazine for a “local, national and international lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and LGBTQ-friendly audience,” according to its website.
Lavender, based out of Minneapolis, has received $84,425 from the Department of Defense in exchange for running advertisements marketing the Minnesota National Guard, according to an online database of federal government spending.
Government contracts show that the Department of Defense spent $24,224 on National Guard advertising in FY 2020, at least $49,167 for FY 2021, and another $11,034 for a 1/6-page advertisement in August 2021.
Another $17,469 was granted for unspecified “outdoor advertising” in FY 2019, bringing the total amount of government money given to Lavender Media over the past three years to $101,894.
As noted in the Free Beacon report, Lavender published an article on the Minnesota National Guard’s “LGBT Special Emphasis Council” in June.
“For the LGBT Special Emphasis Council, they are taking part in the Twin Cities Pride festival and hosting a well attended panel with LGBTQ guard member speakers, sharing their stories and answering questions to help better understand things that the organization could do to facilitate better diversity and inclusion,” reads the Lavender article.
Another Lavender article from June celebrates the Minnesota National Guard as being “way ahead of the game when it comes to diversity and inclusion compared to other military organizations.”
“It’s the inclusion aspect that we have to educate people on and it’s finally turning on light bulbs,” Minnesota National Guard diversity and inclusion director Maj. Corey Robinson told the magazine.
The Free Beacon’s report also drew attention to more of Lavender’s eyebrow-raising coverage, such as a brief profile of 11-year-old “accomplished performer” Hildie Edwards, who identifies as “trans nonbinary.”
In October 2021, Lavender listed Edwards as one of its “under 40 luminaries making this community a better place.”
“Every year I perform at Pride,” Edwards told the magazine. “I feel a special connection with the audience, so that’s really fun!”
The National Guard, like the U.S. armed forces more broadly, has been struggling with recruitment since at least the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Critics argue that the military’s wholehearted embrace of “woke” values and COVID vaccine mandates has turned off individuals from traditionally recruited backgrounds.
A spokesperson for the National Guard told the Free Beacon that it “derives its strength from the diversity of its force.”
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Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.
Photo “Minnesota National Guard” by The National Guard. CC BY 2.0.