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Discharged

Oct 12th, 2010 12:36 PM By Anna

I enlisted in the U.S. Army in June, 2003, after two years of training, I was diagnosed with cervical/ovarian cancer. The military doctors used me as an experiment for the most part, and were going to discharge me from duty, with medical benefits. Shortly after the medical discharge process had been started, a member of my unit outed me.

Without any discussion I was immediately discharged under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, without any medical aide. I was still in treatment and very sick. It took me two more years after that to get better. Now I’m several thousand dollars in debt because of treatments that were not covered and have a dishonorable discharge on my record. Can someone please tell me how I’m supposed to pay that back without being able to get a decent job due to a dishonorable discharge???? Thanks to the gov’t that screwed me over…I give a damn

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Don’t Ask We’ll Find Out!

Oct 12th, 2010 12:33 PM By donny

I was in the Navy during the dessert storm war. I was stationed on a submarine tender called The USS Dixon AS 37 as a ships serviceman. I was three years in to my four year enlistment. I was also recently divorced from my wife as I had just come out to myself as a gay man. This process took years as I was raised southern Baptist in Ohio. In my naivety I shared with shipmates, who I thought I could trust, about guys I had dated and one of these people whom I trusted reported me to the Military Police.

Soon thereafter all my co workers were interrogated and questioned about what they knew about me. Within a few days they boarded my ship and in front of everyone, I was handcuffed, read my rights and arrested for suspicion of sodomy! I was taken to base security and interrogated. I quickly learned that whomever it was that turned me in was someone I had trusted with intimate details of sexual experiences. It was the most humiliating/infuriating moment of my life.

I was being asked to put my life on the line for my country and simultaneously was being told in no uncertain terms that I was a 2nd class citizen of this country. Charges were eventually dropped due to lack of evidence; only after I was followed by military personnel in unmarked cars for 6 months! Ever since that experience I have NEVER BEEN more proud to be a queer man, and I teach my children who I have adopted the importance of self discovery and diversity EVERY DAY :)

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DADT: Unjust & Unfair

Oct 12th, 2010 12:29 PM By Aaron

I have been with my partner for three years now. He is a wonderful man and I love him with all of my heart. We live together and often dream of the day we can be married, adopt children, and raise a family.

My partner has been serving in the military for nearly 10 years and it frustrates me to no end that he is forced to lie about who he is in order to keep his position. He is a quiet man and would never try to rub his sexuality in anyone’s face, but simply mentioning the fact that I exist would strip him of years of dedication and hard work serving our nation. The military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy has forced me to become his secret, and this is so damaging. It fosters feelings of shame and secrecy that hurt us both on deep levels.

My partner must pretend to be straight. He cannot have a picture of me on his desk. He is reluctant and fearful to go out with me on the military base to grocery shop or get dinner, because if we were to run in to someone he knows, he would have to lie about who I am.

If we were a heterosexual couple, and we were married, he would be entitled to provide me, as his spouse, with medical insurance, higher education tuition reimbursement, and a whole host of other benefits. He works just as hard as his heterosexual colleagues, but is refused the same benefits that they enjoy.

In instances where military members are injured or killed, the military prides itself on how it pulls together and help the family of those left behind. They claim they look out for each other, especially in times of need. But if, God forbid, something like that was to happen to my partner, none of that support would be available to me.

My partner works to protect and serve this country. He deserves the respect that comes with equal treatment. This equality is at the very heart of the great nation he serves.

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Finding Myself

Oct 12th, 2010 12:26 PM By Juan

First off, it pains me that discrimination of any sort is still legal in this country; but I do have to admit the eight (8) years I served in the United States Air Force led me to discover my true self. I’ve battled with my sexuality for years and tried to deny who I truly was.

I was raised in a small conservative town in Texas by a very Catholic family. I was brought up believing how I felt inside was completely wrong and sinful. So of course the only way out was to get a scholarship or join the military. So I joined the military, which was another macho conservative homophobic institution, or at least that’s what I thought. The men and women who I have came to love, respect and admire were the ones who truly accepted me for who I truly was; and for these old school high and mighty leaders and politicians to sit up on their thrones and say that the military is not ready for DADT to be repealed are so full of BS!

And, obviously have no idea who these amazing people are that are fighting their wars so they can live their lives of freedom as they DAMN well please! I’ve only recently separated from the military, which I dearly miss, but it was only to pursue a higher education. I may rejoin in the near future. Lets just hope that next time, I can defend my country as ME. Serving proudly, able to love who I please and not have to hide or be ashamed of who I truly am. I have faith that things will change for the better and that all my brothers and sisters in and out of the military can live their lives just as equally as their straight counterparts. Lets just say I give a DAMN! And so should you.

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Saving Lives

Oct 12th, 2010 12:21 PM By Josi

Two people I love dearly are medical personnel in the US military. They also happen to be gay.

They have both informed me that their coming out would create more danger for them than the IEDs that chase them as they rush the wounded to medical facilities, or perform emergency procedures which save limbs and lives.

These two proud members of the US military deserve equal protection under the law to live their lives and be safe from personal harm in their workplace.

I wonder if those whose lives have been saved by gay military members would stand up for them, if they knew the truth. I believe we make that more likely with initiatives like Give A Damn, and I hope the trend continues.

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Honor, Courage & Commitment

Oct 12th, 2010 12:20 PM By Kelly

It’s amazing to me how far this country has come in the past century. While equality has often been an issue on the tongues of many Americans and future-Americans, it’s still just as hot as ever. When we look back 50 years and see the racial inequality, it’s almost unfathomable that it was so socially acceptable. We have come so far.

Yet we have not come far enough.

I am a bisexual woman who served in the U.S. Navy. I can still recall the paperwork that I had to sign upon joining our military at a MEPS station in Phoenix, AZ. I had to deny who I was on paperwork. The thing that was the most stunning, was that one of the men reviewing my paperwork was homosexual. He knew how tough it was to sign that paper, but he knew that we would both serve our country honorably. The fact that he had made it so far, and was about to retire, was inspiring.

With initial fear of being removed from service at some point, but still wanting to serve my country, I was shipped off to boot camp. I sort of had an image in my head about being a lamb thrown to the wolves, and I kept my secret to myself. No one knew that I was still writing letters to my girl back home.
more…

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SERVED MY COUNTRY PROUDLY

Oct 12th, 2010 12:16 PM By Brenda J Ahl

I give a damn, because I served my country for 22 years. It was not an easy 22 years. I enlisted out of high school, went to my new duty station. I was really terrified to share my life with anyone. The year I enlisted was 1984, they had these things called “Witch Hunts.” They would send Sergeants to do spot checks on the weekends in the barracks. A spot check consisted of him knocking 3 times, opening the door with his master key and proceeding to look under your bed, in the shower and in your locker for anyone, you might have in your room.

It should be noted they only did this to soldiers they SUSPECTED were gay or lesbian. Can you imagine? Oh, I was horrified! Here I am, willing to give the ultimate sacrifice for my country. I was Soldier of The Year Twice, I wanted to give back to my country, as the Army would say “Be All I Can Be.” During the Clinton Administration and under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (what a joke that was) I applied for a new position and was asked as part of the criteria “Are you Gay?” I replied, I thought you were not supposed ask that? The investigator replied “I have to.”

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Scared Marine

Oct 12th, 2010 12:14 PM By Ric

My husband and partner is a former U.S. Marine. We have been together for 13 years and legally married for 2 years. He was thrown out of the Marines for being gay (before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue). It affected him deeply.

I also have quite a few gay friends that are actively and formerly Marines. I have two friends in particular that have both retired from the Marine Corps and are now at their old Marine Corps jobs as civilians. These two in particular I am very concerned about.

The first has a partner who is a California Highway Patrolman and has been with for years. During a brief time in California gay men were allowed to get legally married, at which time I married my partner of 13 years. My active duty Marine friend was not able to marry his CHP partner because he was still active duty. Since then Prop 8 killed off the chance same sex marriage in CA and since then, my Marine friend retired. He regrets not having the same chance I got.

My other Marine friend too has a partner who he has been with for years. He has retired and too is working as a civilian at the same job he had before in the Marine Corps. He on the other hand is still so frightened of being outed that he constantly lies about having girlfriends to fellow workers and has no close work friends because they may find out he is gay. It is so sad to me that he still feels he has to hide who he is to everyone but a few.

I think it is so harmful to a person to be ashamed of who they are that it must become legal to openly gay in all branches of the US Military!

That is why I GIVE A DAMN!

Close Quarters Doesn’t Matter

Oct 12th, 2010 12:11 PM By Paul

I am a former gay submarine sailor and I GIVE A DAMN about equality.

I served in the United States Navy for 10 years and have plenty of awards and respectable evaluations to prove my worth as a good sailor. While I was not out, I suspect people knew; mostly toward the end of my tour. Recently my curiosity got the best of me, so I asked over 100 of my former shipmates if they knew I was gay while serving along side them, would it have made a difference? I was overwhelmed to learn that the majority of them they would not have had a problem serving along side of me. Here is an example:

“Sorry, I did not notice you sent me an email. I considered your question carefully and to tell you the truth it would not have bothered me at all. In fact, I feel cheated because you were not honest with all your shipmates and me. We want to know the real you. Not just a version of you.”

This is coming from a fellow submarine sailor who lived in close quarters with me and submarines are about as close as you can get without being in a foxhole. As you can see there is less concern with sex and more concern with being a team. Point is, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is a failed policy that is causing problems by asking service members to lie about who they are. To live in fear and always wondering when the day will come with they will be called in and discharged for loving someone.

I decided to end my career at 10 years, instead of continuing to serve my country and do what I loved. I would enjoy going back and serving on submarines but my time has passed; this is the year I would have retired.

Help us hold our President accountable for his statements: “I will end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The more we impress upon our legislators it shows a sign that we are placing our hands on the arc of history. With all of our hands on and pull, we can bend it toward Justice.

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Welcome to a Navy Family

Oct 12th, 2010 11:58 AM By Gabe

It’s hard to pick one topic and say “I only fit here” or “I only had this one issue happen in my life” because I think it’s not true. Sometimes our life overlaps with more then one issue. My three biggest would be faith, teen issues and the Military, but I have chosen to label this in “Military” though I have never been active duty, my life has pretty much been in the Military since birth.

As you may have guessed, I am a Navy brat and have been for 20 years. Not only is my dad a Navy man, he was also raised by a pastor, the man I am named after. How ironic it is really, naming your son after your holy father just to have him turn out to be gay.

With all this being said, you can kinda see how my family feels about gays. My mom is not so bad. She is not as close minded as my father. My father on the other hand once told me he sees “gays” and “men who sleep with children” in the same light.

Coming out to my parents has not been easy. I should know since I have tried three times. The first, my parents got me a psychologist. There has to be a way to fix me right? Luckily for me my parent’s plans backfired. The 2nd time I told them, they shipped me to live with my grandparents. Yes, the ones who run a church. It was a small town and during that time it was pure hell. I would walk home from school just to have people shout “fag” and “homo” out of the windows of passing cars.

The third time I came out they told me they would kick me out. Despite this. I am living as a gay man. In the halls of my community college or online with a game called Second Life. I don’t think my parent’s will ever really accept that I am gay. And one day I will have to pick between them. Living as an open gay man or being with my parents.

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