Almost two weeks ago, on May 31, 2013, an important event took place in our nation’s capital. Unfortunately, certain news media outlets either didn’t cover the story or it was quickly glossed over. So I’ll mention it here. President Barack Obama, in a Presidential Proclamation, named June 2013 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. You can read the president’s proclamation here.
In that same week, fellow blogger, nudist and friend Roger Poladopoulos, knowing I’d served a full career in the Navy and am a supporter of many LGBT issues and causes, asked me to write an article for his then-blog, A Guy Without Boxers (now ReNude Pride), sharing my thoughts on what LGBT Pride Month means to me as a veteran. I was more than happy and honored to do that for it gives me an opportunity to give a retired veteran’s view since the lifting of the ban against LGBT/GLBT people serving in America’s armed forces.
Here’s the article.
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Since President Barack Obama did away with the highly ineffective policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) almost two years ago, LGBT Pride Month has had – and it continues to have, more of a significant meaning to me as a veteran. I served 20 years in the U.S. Navy, joining at the tail-end of heavy U.S. NCIS (United States Naval Criminal Investigative Service (formerly NIS)) witch-hunts and screenings designed to detect and eradicate any Sailor or Marine thought or suspected to be gay or bisexual. Such actions were not only being conducted in the Navy and Marine Corps but in all of America’s armed forces!
Over the span of my career, up to the point after the DADT policy was established (under President Clinton in late 1993), and training implemented at the naval command bases and ships where I was stationed, I have witnessed several loyal, honest and dedicated men and women get discharged or forced out of the Navy and Marines for being gay or suspected of being gay or bisexual. Many other gay and bisexual men and women who were still serving decided not to reenlist due to the stresses of having to live undercover or “on the low” because of their sexuality. I was a telecommunications specialist in the Navy. Often my job meant being privy to the knowledge of some of those Sailors or Marines being discharged from military service due to homosexuality. It always broke my heart to see the names of people I knew, some who were friends or acquaintances, being kicked out and being made to start their lives over simply because of found or suspected homosexuality. I always counted myself as being one of the fortunate ones whom some of those fine men and women – my brothers and sisters in uniform, considered to be a trusted friend and confidant.
There is an adage that says, “If one is chained, then all are chained; if one isn’t free, then no one is free.” (or words to that effect). I’d like to think that whenever one of the world’s greatest armed forces allows for bigotry and hatred to function within its leadership and ranks, that military entity cannot be an effective defender of a nation or its people, let alone the world. President Harry S Truman must have realized this when he ordered the desegregation of the U.S. armed forces in July 1948.
With gay, lesbian and bisexual men and women now free to serve openly in America’s military, the chains that once bound its potential for growth have been severed. This means that except for those few dissenters who protest about having to serve alongside known gays and bisexuals, overall EVERY man and woman, regardless of their sexual orientation, can now serve their country with much fuller distinction, individual potential, honor and pride; pride not just in the respective branch of service in which that person serves but pride as in being recognized, respected and accepted for being a complete individual who wears the military uniform!