Ex-Army, Late Bloomer
I was in the U.S Army. While I never saw a battle field as so many of our soldiers are today, I fought my own at home.
When I joined at 17 years old (1996) I identified as straight. I was still in the process of learning who I was. It wasn’t until about a year into my service that I began to struggle with my sexuality.
I eventually came to terms with who I am. Having been brainwashed into understanding the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, I thought it best to keep it under wraps. It wasn’t until 1998, when someone outed me to my unit.
From that point on, my unit used the full force of what they could to try to ‘break’ my spirit. Of course, everything was all legal as far as they were concerned. They forced duties on me that were outside of my job description, making it impossible for me to complete my duties.
In 1999, they finaly were able to attempt to kick me out of the Army under ‘derilict of duty’. This is completely unrelated to “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” as a discharge. This would have resulted in a dishonorable discharge.
They finaly broke me to a point where, I decided to just not go to work anymore. I slipped into a huge depression where I didn’t even want to get out of bed in the morning.
I had to make my own decision between the dishonorable discharge they were trying to give me, or to simply leave for a few months and get a general discharge. So, I chose the latter.
I have been out of the Army since 2000, and living my life free and open ever since.
I give a damn because I know what it’s like to try to find a meaningful relationship in this life but have to hide behind pronouns.
I give a damn because, I don’t want others to have to endore what I did.
I give a damn because my partner and I have been together for 6 years and it’s about damn time for us to have the same protections that married heterosexual couples do (even ones that met in Vegas and got married two hours later).
I give a damn because, I love my country enough to demand that equality no longer just be a hip catch phrase that politicians use to gain my support.
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Sexual orientation has nothing to do with how well a service member performs his or her job. But under the 1993 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, being openly gay can be cause for discharge from the military.