The end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is quickly approaching. On September 20th the repeal and certification process officially is complete and the sexuality that a person is born will no longer be grounds for discharge. As we approach this historic day that marks the end of seventeen years of institutionalized discrimination former and active duty service members are telling their stories of how they made it through and what it was like to endure.
GQ magazine has collected some of these stories and presents them here.
Like the story of Eric Alva, the first American injured in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
When Alva signed up, before "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," he had to lie on his paperwork. "I knew I was lying," he says. "But I loved what I did, I loved my job, and I didn’t want to tell anyone. I said, ‘It’s going to be my secret.’ I knew I was not going to be happy in a way, but I knew this was what I wanted." In 2003 he was deployed to the Middle East, and on March 21 he crossed the border from Kuwait. His unit was part of a huge convoy that stopped outside Basra. Alva got out of his Humvee and went to fetch something from the back of the vehicle. "That’s when I triggered the IED. I was awake, my hearing was sort of gone. My hand was covered in blood and part of my index finger was gone. The chaplain was holding my head and I was telling him I didn’t want to die. I was taken off a helicopter in Kuwait—it was estimated that I was only in Iraq about three hours—and carried into surgery. I woke up later and when I looked down I saw that the right side of my sheet was flat. I cried myself asleep, only to wake up hours later and see that it’s true: My leg is gone."
DADT not only affected the lives of those who risked their lives on the battlefield. It also took a toll on those they loved.
"The relationship lasted for about four years, but I always felt like I was disrespecting him, to have to pretend he didn’t exist when I went to work. When I got deployed, he was there with my family when I left. It kind of sucked—to shake his hand and a little pat on the back and ‘I’ll see you when I see you’ kind of thing. And when you’re getting ready to come back, the spouses were getting classes—here’s how you welcome your Marine back into the family—and my boyfriend didn’t get any of that. I had a really hard time adjusting to being home. We tried to make it work for a year but he was getting more and more paranoid about people finding out about us. It killed me that he felt that way because of me. I don’t think we ever really had a chance, ultimately."
For some DADT became the weapon used by haters.
The harassment grew worse. Of a number of escalating events—Rocha was also force-fed dog food and locked into a shit-filled dog kennel—the most abusive and explicitly homophobic was when he was ordered by his commander to act in a dog-training scenario, repeated over and over so that every dog in the unit could be run through it. "The scenarios were supposed to be relevant to what the dogs or the handlers would experience. Like a domestic dispute, or an armed individual who has been spotted on the base, or someone strapped with explosives. This day he chose that the scenario would be that I would be getting caught giving another service member a blow job and, once the dogs came in, I was supposed to jump up from having been in between this guy’s legs. He would coach as to how exactly he wanted it played out, which was the sickest part of it." Rocha says he had to act this out between half a dozen and a dozen times, about fifteen to twenty minutes each time. As they repeated it, his commander ordered Rocha to make the scenario more extreme. "He wanted me to be very queer and flamboyant. He wanted me to pretend like there was stuff on my face. Loving it so much that each scenario was gayer and more disgusting—the introduction of fake semen, that I would have to wipe my face, or that I would have to make slurping noises. The level of humiliation I experienced that day, that’s when I knew I wasn’t safe in the military."
I highly recommend heading over there and reading more http://www.gq.com/news-politics/big-issues/201109/dont-ask-dont-tell-gay-soldiers-military#ixzz1WAXDJMrl
|Billy Lucas was also 15, a student at Greensburg High School in Indiana. His classmates said he had trouble fitting in and he often became the target of bulling because he was ?different.? After a group of students had called him a fag and told him he should kill himself, he did just that. He had gone home and hanged himself in his parents barn.
More on Billy Lucas at Fox 59.
There is also a Facebook memorial page for Billy.
|13 year old Seth Welsh of Tehachapi California was openly gay. He to was often the victim of bulling by fellow classmates at Jacobsen Middle School. Taunting and ridicule that had apparently gone unchecked for some time. On September 19th Seth?s parents came home to find him unconscious in the backyard after he had attempted to hang himself from a tree. After nine days his parents took him off of life support.
There is more on Seth at KGET17.
|Asher Brown was a 13 year old 8th grader at Hamilton Middle School in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District when he shot himself in the head a day after students had tripped him down a flight of stairs. Asher?s stepfather found him at home when he came home from work. Asher had came out to his stepfather that morning. Asher?s parents had complained repeatedly to the school about the bulling over the last 18 months. School officials deny that any such complaints were ever made.
More about Asher can be found here.
|Bulling isn?t limited to high school students as we learned when 18 year old Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi posted this on his Facebook page.
His car, wallet, and other belongings were found at the George Washington bridge. His body has not been found. Tyler?s roommate Dharun Ravi used his webcam to stream to the internet Tyler making out with another guy acording to the story from ABC.