As we mark the one year anniversary of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) with news that there has not been any significant impact, we need to remember, there is still some work to do to irradicate prejudice.
From OutServe Magazine:
About a month after my Univision interview and magazine spot, I attended OutServe’s Leadership Summit in Las Vegas, the first ever formal gathering of LGBT military members. The experience was life changing – I was making history. Being a Las Vegas native, I had the opportunity to interview with the local ABC and CBS affiliates. I was also seen on a plethora of other media coverage of the event to include CNN, print news, and a candid shot of me at the National Dinner on Yahoo.com’s main page. As the conference wrapped up, and the significance of what had just transpired was finally starting to sink in, I received a phone call from an unknown number. I typically don’t answer my phone unless I know who’s calling, but I suppose my mind was still clouded from the conference. On the other end was a Captain I work with. He told me that at work, someone had seen my picture on Yahoo and of course put two and two together. Needless to say, the jokes and slurs propagated throughout the workplace. But in the midst of my rising anger, this Captain began to cry. He then came out to me. For the first time in his life, he told someone he was gay. Before that day, he had no one he could talk to. Now he knew he wasn’t alone. We talked for almost two hours, and when I hung up the phone, a sense of accomplishment overcame me. This is what it was all about.
The euphoria was short-lived. My first day back in the office after the conference was one of the hardest days of my military career. I was brought into my supervisor’s office and queried regarding my affiliation with OutServe. Questions such as, “Is this a paid position?” and “Do you use duty time to work on OutServe?” I also received a counseling for interviewing with the media “without permission.”
That same week, I sent an e-mail to my supervisor requesting copies of OutServe Magazine for our organization (the publication is free to military units). The e-mail was meant to be forwarded to our Commander for approval, but was squashed by a Lieutenant Colonel in my Chain of Command. He and I obviously disagreed on his rationale for denying the request. Wanting to get a determination from the Commander himself, I proceeded to push the request up the Chain, past the Lt Col. Several e-mails were exchanged between us, and I later received a counseling stating that the tone of my e-mails was “unprofessional.” In another counseling session, I was accused of “pushing a political agenda” and if I continued with the magazine request, it would reflect badly on my “officership” [sic] and could affect recommendations for future jobs.