“Hup, two, three, four! Hup, two, three, four!
So the marching goes
And also so do I.
“Mine is not to question why,
But to do or die.”
My feelings for my fellow men
Are not the same as yours
Touching, kissing, holding hands
Must be done behind closed doors.
To give up freedoms of my own
Makes no sense at all;
For when it comes to protecting yours,
To duty they shall call!
Hup, two, three, four! Hup, two three four!” (c)
I wrote that poem in 2000, the year after I was discharged from the USAF. I only had the privilege of serving 9 months, but they were some of the best 9 months of my life.
Having dropped out of college due to financial constraints, I very hesitantly joined the military to be an Arabic Linguist. You see, I had already come out in the coal region/boonies of Pennsylvania when I was 16 and I wasn’t exactly what people would consider “butch”. So it shocked my family and friends when I told them I decided to join the military. But being stationed at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in Monterey, CA was a dream come true. I made friends quickly and easily and I was being paid to learn Arabic. How cool is that? However, I had to cram myself back into the closet. It wasn’t easy and, in the end, my efforts were foiled by an innocent kiss.
I won’t bore you with the details, but the gist is that my roommate threatened to out me to my command based on a baseless rumor that I had been making out with a guy in the parking lot. If you want details, you can read SLDN’s 6th Annual Report (2000): Conduct Unbecoming.
After my honorable discharge, I just tried to forget about DLI and move on with my life; another failed attempt at college, working various jobs, and finally landing in NYC. 10 years and 3 months later, I found my myself glued to C-SPAN at the LGBT Center in Queens, NY, as I watched with the nation keeping vigil the passing of the repeal of DADT. I was pleased with the Senate’s decision and, although it is more than likely too late for me (as I am now 32 and slightly overweight), it means that thousands of other servicemen and women will be able to serve openly and proudly without fear of repercussions or retribution.
I am proud to have served my country and now I am one step closer to being prouder to be an American. The work is NOT over! We still need to apply the same effort and determination to repeal DOMA and make marriage legal for everyone! I pray America will find her way, as she always has. This is still relatively a new country and there are more growing pains we must suffer to get where we’re going. “God Bless America and God Bless Her Gays!”
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