For those of you who have known me practically all of life, you know I served in the Air Force very briefly out of high school. I was one of the unfortunate to get kicked out of the Air Force under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell so you can imagine when the whole DADT repeal debate was going on, it struck a nerve. One day I was reading the Akron Beacon-Journal’s editorial page and came across a letter saying that DADT was working and that it needed to stay in place. This letter prompted me to write a letter to the Beacon Journal telling my story. While the letter no longer exists online, I have a saved copy of it and would like to share it with my readers.
The following letter was printed in the Akron Beacon-Journal on December 2, 2010:
In response to Ralph Redmond’s November 21 letter, “Don’t ask, don’t tell needed in military”, Mr. Redmond fails to cite any concrete proof that, in his own words, “in the military, the homosexual lifestyle has placed the lives of military men and women in danger.” There may not be a constitutional right to serve in the military but if someone whom is gay wants to serve in the military, it should be their decision to do so.
Being one of the 13,389 military personnel that has been kicked out of the military under DADT, I know what it’s like to be in the military and have to hide a significant part of who you are. When I first went into the Air Force, I thought my attraction to the same-sex was a “phase” that I would be able to overcome but as time went on I could not deny to myself that I was gay. When I came to this realization, I knew that I would have to keep it a guarded secret. Little did I know, the secret would start to eat away at me. There were times I felt that the friends and co-workers that I had in the Air Force didn’t know me at all because to keep them from knowing the truth, I had to lie about the places I would go and if I was dating anyone. The toll of lying about an aspect of my life hit me not long after and that’s where things started to fall apart. At one point, I thought suicide was the answer. Then there was a time, when I was at my weakest moment , I trusted a couple of my co-workers by telling them that I was gay. Trusting them was a mistake that I soon learned. Needless to say that was the reason I was kicked out of the Air Force.
Mr. Redmond’s ignorance in believing that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is “working well” is the furthest from the truth. DADT is outdated and unnecessary. While Mr. Redmond may not think that 13,389 is not a significant number, here are some other factors to consider: as long as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell stays in place, it promotes homophobia in the military which often leads to either a gay solider committing suicide or being the target of a hate crime that could lead to great injury or the worst case, death.
As an added bonus, here of some pics of me from my days in the Air Force.