Gay Military

Curator's Note

December 22, 2010 was not only the day that history was written, but my life was changed forever. During my fight to repeal DADT I always vowed to go back, once the ban had been lifted. A little over 3 years later I'm still working to live out my vow. On January 12, 2004 I was discharged under the DADT policy. I had not one written infraction during my time in the Army; I was promoted before my time and with a waiver. I excelled as a solider, but because of an archaic policy I was put to the curb. I believe that the US military should recruit the best and the brightest recruits, and I believe that will make for a stronger force. Now that DADT is repealed people no longer have to hide and lie about their life outside of work. They can finally be treated like equal citizens within the ranks of our military. 

Do you believe that the implementation of the repeal of DADT has been successful? 

Do you agree with gays serving openly?



It's interesting to me the different experiences people had under DADT. Most of my military service took place under DADT, and while I knew that the Army had an option of discharging me for identifying as gay, I still served openly without any negative repercussions. Granted, my experience seems to be an exception to the rule, and I've never really known why. Was it that I just got lucky? Was it a testament to the moral fortitude and mission focus of my leadership and fellow service members at the various units in which I served? Was it that I had a skillset my commanders deemed more important than following directives to discharge me? What I have seen in younger service members follows the definite theme that we have seen throughout our society of increasing acceptance of gay men and women (we still have a long way to come on the issue of bisexual identity and still longer on transgender identity). A while back, for example, I was eating lunch at the PX on post when I noticed two male soldiers (I presume they were soldiers as they had the stereotypical Army haircut and were eating with several others who were in uniform) holding hands. They were obviously a couple but their interaction with their peers appeared as if no one else seemed phased by it. It was heartening to see, but also reminded me that those of my generation - who grew up on the tail end of the era where HIV was still a terminal disease, where gay culture still existed in the cloistered ghettos of major cities, where the idea of a same-sex family was not yet a standard part of our relationship template, and where we still feel the sting of rejection and discrimination - are probably the least capable of making this shift between one idea of what it means to identify openly as gay and another. For those of an older generation I think it's easier to make a clean break (or not), for those younger I think it's an non-issue, but for those of us in between, I think we are torn between two competing ideas, both almost equally calling to us. As time passes, the balance, however, seems to be falling in favor of the normalcy of non-heterosexual identities, and it's that normalcy, rather than its peculiarity, that will ultimately bolster the success of repealing DADT.

Tommy, thanks for sharing such a personal post, and I wish you much luck re-enlisting. When you were in the army, did you find that soldiers supported the DADT policy? Is a profound cultural change necessary among regular soldiers to protect openly gay ones? Or was the opposition to repealing DADT mostly from older, high-level military officers or even politicians outside the military? Also, do you think some branches of the military feel differently about this issue? With an issue like this, I’m always interested in the people who actually live in the world ruled by the policy, and you have given us some insight into your own utterly unfair experiences, which is pretty valuable.

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