President Obama signed a law this morning that repeals the odious "Don't Ask Don't Tell." The "Don't Ask Don't Tell" law that was passed seventeen years ago made legal discrimination against a class of United States citizens. That law is no longer legal.
As a former gay soldier (U.S. Army 1960-1963) who had to lie about his sexual orientation, this is the first day in my life that I feel like a full fledged citizen of this country. I, along with thousands of other gay and lesbians who have served in the armed forces have been made to feel less than equal to our fellow citizens since the founding of this country. I feel so fortunate that I have lived long enough to see this terrible abridgment of my civil right come to an end.
I came "out"when I left the Army in January of 1963. I've lived as an openly gay man since then. At times it has not been an easy path living my life openly gay. For most of my career me being gay just wasn't an issue with my bosses. The issue was whether or not I could do my job. And that is what should be the only criteria of anyone whether they be in the service of this country in the military or private business. I did lose two jobs because I had homophobic bosses but that was a small price for me to pay compared to many of my gay brothers and sisters.
Right now I am feeling so elated. Even though I'm not in the service (at 69 I'm just at "tad" too old to rejoin the Army), I am glad for those young gay men and woman who now can service their country without fear of being discriminated against based soley on their sexual orientation.
I've only participated in two gay rights marches. The first one was the First one on October 14, 1979 in Washington D.C. I was so nervous participating in that first national gay rights march that I didn't even take my camera. I was pretty sure I would end up in jail for participating in that march.
|1979 Gay Rights March Washington, D.C|
Look closely, I'm in there somewhere, hiding form the police
My next gays rights march was in October 11th, 2009. I was ready this time with my camera! This march was a lot different, I wasn't afraid of being arrested. As a matter of fact, all us queers marching in Washington D.C. on that sunny October day was just another "event." That's how far we have come as a country in acknowledging that gay men and women are just like anyone else except who we chose to be intimate with.