DKStories Posted September 20, 2011 Report Share Posted September 20, 2011 I served in the United States Navy before Don't Ask Don't Tell was implemented, and I was discharged because I told my Seniore Chief and Division Officer that I was gay. After my statement I was told to 'prove it' and did by bringing a date on board the ship. At that point I was put into a compartment the size of a closet and told I wasn't leaving the room until I'd written a statement and included the names of any other sailor that was gay. Eight hours later I concocted a story that included the name of someone I knew had already been discharged for being gay. When my 'hearing' came due on board ship, my Executive Officer pulled out his Holy Bible and preached to me about how I was a sinner and going to hell. A month later I got my honorable discharge. A few weeks short of a year later, Bill Clinton was sworn in as President, and the greaty Gays in the Military debate got underway. I joined the fight, speaking publicly for the first time publicly about being gay - even using a fake name at first until my family go tired of cutting out my picture in the paper so other family members wouldn't see the phots. After that I used my real name. We lost the step, having taken a step forward and two steps back by having Don't Ask Don't Tell enshrined in law. This result kept gays from serving openly for another decade and a half. Worse, it was never implemented the way it was promised, resulting in more and more discharges for even perceived sexual orientation. In many ways, I was lucky with my discharge. During my first few months onboard ship I made a very big mistake and it ended up getting around Barbados that I was gay (the ship was there for a port of call). After being hunted down by some shipmates and fighting my way clear, I was sent to talk to the ship's Chaplain. The older Catholic Chaplain made sure I knew to tell him 'what he wanted to hear', I denied I was gay and the issue was not heard of again. Even one of the guys who had pursued and tried to beat me came by to apologize for believing scuttlebutt. A year later, when I started hanging around people who were known to be gay on board the ship, I had a good buddy warn me rumors were starting and to stop hanging around those guys. No threats, no assaults, just muttering. By that time I no longer cared, and decided to ignore his advice. Meanwhile someone I'd met in a gay bar back in San Diego was being murdered in Japan by shipmates who thought he might be gay. Since then, many soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have been murdered by their fellow service members, often in cold blood for the merest hint of being gay (or even dating a transgender person). Thousands more have been discharged at the slightest rumor of their being anything other than straight. Many more have died, never having been honest with their fellow service members or their families about this aspect of their lives. Some combat veterans who were killed in action have left being lovers who were never recognized as being important in the lives of the dead. Wounded service members have been sent back to the States for medical treatment and been forced to stay away from their lovers for fear that they would be kicked out and never receive artificial limbs or VA medical care they had earned through their heroism. Today, despite all the efforts of Republican lawmakers to stop it, that era has come to an end. No longer must LGBT service members remain silent when their compatriots discuss their loved ones, their families. They no longer have to hide for fear of discovery costing their careers. No longer do we, as a people, say that a queer isn't good enough to serve our nation. Yet, let us not forget that the road to this day has been paved with the broken dreams, broken hearts, broken trust, and borken lives of all those that have gone before us. Nor should we believe that there will not be problems with this down the road. Hatred and bigotry are human traits, and as such will be wherever there are humans. Love and acceptance are also human traits, though, and must never be forgotten either. For bit by bit, piece by piece, we will use those good traits to push back the bad. We may never be done with this struggle, but in the end we will see the day dawn brighter for all we have accomplished. Today is one such day. Quote Link to comment
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