US Army & Iraq War veteran Rob Smith has penned a powerful reaction piece to President Obama's call for the repeal of the military's discriminatory 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' policy and the lifeless reaction from military leaders during the president's recent State of The Union Address. Obama's announcement to move forward with plans to repeal the ban in 2010 was met with enthusiastic applause by most.
Smith takes these folks to task in his Huffington Post column who are insistent upon bolting the closet door shut on gay and lesbian soldiers while revealing the damage the ban caused him as a gay soldier.
From The Huffington Post:
I'll tell you what serving in the military under DADT did to me: It made my sexual orientation a secret shame which was never to be discussed under threat of dishonorable discharge and revocation of my benefits. It kept me distant from my fellow soldiers, for if I were to slip up and say a little too much about the real me for even a second, I couldn't trust that they wouldn't turn me in and end my career in a matter of weeks. It stunted my emotional and sexual development as a gay man so much that I was in my mid twenties before falling in love for the first time, something that happens for most people in their late teens. It sent me into the wrong places looking for the romantic affection that my heterosexual fellow soldiers were able to openly practice, discuss, and experience without the threat of disciplinary action. Most hurtful of all, being constantly reminded through DADT that my sexual orientation was bad, wrong, and perverted instilled a feeling of worthlessness in me that took years to undo following my honorable discharge from the military.
Having been an out gay man for the past 6 years following my service has allowed me to realize I couldn't have been more wrong about myself. I'm not worthless. My sexuality isn't "deviant," nor is it some secret shame that needs to be hidden so that the military establishment can continue to delude themselves into thinking they're doing the right thing by keeping military "values" firmly in line with something out of the 50's. To those "leaders," gay veterans aren't your dirty little secret anymore. We're not going to shut up, or go away, or stop shouting until those like us who currently serve are able to scream as loud as we are without the threat of disciplinary action. Thank you to President Obama for seeing this and acknowledging it, and shame on the alleged leaders of our military for continuing to remain so blind and so willfully ignorant.