I GIVE A DAMN, because I was separated from the US Navy in September 2006.
Granted I was more fortunate than others whom have been separated from the US Armed Forces. My story begins in October of 2005, two months after completing boot camp. I was fighting the constant self battle of my sexual identity. I felt like I had no one to talk to – depression started setting in hard. When suicidal idealizations began to set in I got scared, because I had been down that same path 4 years prior, which ended in taking five 500mg pills of Vicodin and hoped never to wake back up. So, I went to my superior to tell them of my thoughts, I was sent to the psych ward where I was put on anti-depressants and had to see a councilor twice a week. I did this every week for the next 5 weeks.
In November of ’05, I went home for the first time since joining the Navy, which was a blessing from God! While at home, I came out to all my closest friends, and really admitted that I was gay to myself for the first time! I was still nervous about coming out to my family because my step-dad had told me once if he ever found out I was gay he would ban me from seeing my younger siblings. My confidence as a gay man began to grow with the love and support from my friends. Leave had ended and I was on my way back to Virginia Beach.
I finished my “C” school in early December and was headed for my command. Once I was checked in, I began to make friends with other gays, lesbians and bisexuals I had met at work. My friendships grew and so did my identity and passion for equal treatment!! During the next few months I ended up meeting Matt, my first boyfriend, and ended up moving in with him.
In June 2006, Matt and I went to Pride in our nation’s capitol!! I had the time of my life – in fact I had so much fun, Matt and I ended up driving 8 hours to NYC the fallowing weekend for their Pride!! It was that fabulous weekend in NYC that I decided I was DONE hiding my sexuality at work. I don’t know how many people know the Navy’s core values, but they are HONOR, COURAGE & COMMITMENT. These were the values that I tried to hold to everyday I was serving my country…but how could I truly be holding up those values if I had to lie to my co-workers about who I was. I had made the decision to come out to my Commanding Officer (CO) that following week.
So, I sat down and wrote a letter to my CO and sent it off to a lawyer I had met the weekend before from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. He looked the letter over then advised me of the consequences I would face by sending off my letter. Over the next week I weighed the Pros and Cons, and decided to send my letter up the chain of command. I met with my CO towards the end of that week, I was so SO nervous walking up to his office…but I didn’t need to be. My CO told me how much he respected me for standing up for what I felt was right. However, he said that he had to proceed with discharging me. About a month and a half later I was Honorably Discharged from the Navy. I was lucky that my CO was so understanding, because without his push to give me that Honorable Discharge I would have been separated with a Dishonorable Discharge.
I GIVE A DAMN, because there are so many brave men and women serving in our military who still have to lie to their coworkers because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
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