Most of this summer I didn’t get to post too much because I had been quite busy preparing for another deployment. It’s from that forward location that I’m able to post for you today, this historic moment.
And it’s appropriate, I think.
I joined the military after Bill Clinton had signed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, so I never lived in a military where simply being homosexual was grounds for discharge. I lived my entire military career, up until today, as a closeted gay man in uniform. I followed the rules, kept it to myself (save a few other gay servicemembers and a handful over the years of closely trusted colleagues), and never ran afoul of the rules. I did my job, and I did it well.
I continue to do so, and I am not alone.
So it’s fitting, then, that I should spend this day—when gay “rights” groups back home will celebrate some sort of liberation of mine—simply doing what I’ve been doing for about 20 years: my job. While politically-minded activists will be slapping themselves on the back and praising the newly-granted privileges I and my fellow gay servicemembers now enjoy, we and tens of thousands of other deployed troops will spend today doing what we do: Our job.
While I appreciate your gladness on my behalf, please do take a moment today and keep in mind that there were some of us who were serving under DADT without regard for it.
While I am grateful that the era of homosexuality being the military’s business has ended, I am grateful more so for those who, like me, joined the military knowing the score and choosing this rewarding life anyway.
While I welcome those young men and women into the ranks of our military who heretofore had waited the policy out, I am much more proud of those who didn’t require their own terms be met in order to answer the call to serve in the first place.
It’s already Tuesday, September 20th, 2011 where I am, so I’m one of the first gay servicemembers in history who can legally come out. I won’t of course, but from now on, I’ll belay the gender-nonspecific pronouns and no longer demure when the stories turn to family. I just Skyped with my boyfriend back in the States and we talked about this whole thing. He’s proud of me, but I’m also proud of him (as all my colleagues are of their families back home). I’m in love with him, we’re quite a pair. And if I wanted to, I could take a picture of us into my office today and put it right on my desk.
-Nick (ColoradoPatriot, from A Forward Operating Location)