I joined the Navy just out of high school at the age of 17. I knew who I was and what I was but living in a small town in Texas and wanting MORE for my life, I decided the Navy was the way to get out.
For just over 10 years I served in the US Navy and had an INCREDIBLE enlistment. Constantly receiving 4.0 evaluations and being picked for some pretty terrific duty. I was selected to serve on the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee. When I was a Second Class Petty Officer, I was nominated by my command and ultimately selected to fill a position normally filled by a Chief Petty Officer in Munich, Germany. Even in the beginning, during boot camp I was singled out to be a Division Yeoman. At each and every assignment I was given, I succeeded and got the job done.
There were questions about my sexuality from some while I was in. So I did what many did, I got married. I married another service member and while I lied to her for the 7 years we were married, she and I remain close to this day. She is probably my best friend. We had a daughter and my daughter has made me a grandfather. I will NEVER regret my marriage but I could have hurt someone very much. FORTUNATELY, my ex-wife doesn’t blame me for what I did. I WAS LUCKY!
We shouldn’t have to do something that could possibly hurt someone just to try to hide who we are. At no time during my service did my being gay prevent me from performing my job. That being said, who knows, I may have been able to do MUCH MORE had I not spent so much time and energy in keeping who I was a secret.
After 10 years of hiding, constantly looking over my shoulder and having the feeling of dread every time the Commanding Officer would want to see me for fear someone “found me out”, I decided I had to be true to who I was. I made the EXTREMELY difficult decision to get out of the Navy. I struggled with this decision a great deal. While I was SO very proud of being a sailor, I wasn’t proud of ME. Hiding who I was, not being able to seek out someone to share my life with took it’s toll and I had no other choice.
Being gay doesn’t hinder someone’s ability to serve but having to hide it certainly can!
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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.