I’ve chosen to celebrate it today because of the potential “mass outing” possible in
now that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) rule was repealed on 20th September. This was the rule that gave 14,000 US service personnel a forced discharge for no other reason than admitting to being gay or lesbian, and kept thousands of others in the closet. Perhaps the first significant name in the campaign to have the ban on gays and lesbian lifted is Sgt. Leonard Matlovich (1943-1988). The words on his headstone sums up the ridiculous ban in a nutshell: “They gave me a medal [the Purple Heart] for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.” America
has not had the same “problem”. There has no recognised ban on gays or lesbians in Her/His Majesty’s forces. In fact, there have been a lot of lgbt service personnel who were open about their sexuality, even though it was illegal. One that springs to mind immediately is Capt. Myles Hildyard of the Sherwood Rangers who often took his partner to regimental dances, and no-one batted an eyelid. Even today there are openly lgbt service personnel. One of them, James Wharton, even made the front cover of “Soldier”, the army’s own magazine, in 2009. UK
A more recent incident in the DADT fiasco in the
is shown in the case of another decorated hero of US Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach of the USAF. He was accused of raping a female colleague and faced discharge is found guilty. A third party outed Fehrenbach to the USAF and the rape charge was dropped after he admitted he was gay. Then the USAF began discharge proceedings because of it. Thankfully he negotiated the dropping of the discharge but was forced into a “desk job”. Afghanistan
Victor Fehrenbach and the US Navy’s Daniel Choi were at the forefront of the campaign to repeal DADT, with Choi even chaining himself to the railings of the White House to highlight the campaign. They are both pictured here in a photograph taken for “Instinct” magazine. But will the discharged lgbt personnel get their jobs back? I doubt it somehow.
So, perhaps now there’ll be hundreds of US personnel willing to come out. If not today, then another time when they feel more comfortable. Perhaps, also, the closeted
army sergeant who represented the US at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics will reveal himself to the wider world. I’m sure the lgbt worldwide community will welcome him and all the others with open arms. USA