Imagine being made to feel like a criminal just because of loving another human. That’s what the “Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell.” policy did to LGBTQ+ service members. Sure, we got to serve, but being forced to “serve in silence” was enough to make you feel like less of a human, unworthy, overlooked, disregarded, and discriminated on in some cases via lack of advancements or with junior less-qualified personnel receiving a more positive annual eval. Senior homophobic service members were pretty creative in ways in which they ostracized or held back personnel they suspected to be gay.
In 2008, while on active duty, I was under investigation FOR BEING GAY. After being read my rights, they never asked (DADT), but every other question came up, quite invasively. Their shoddy investigator found no “evidence” so I was “innocent”, when i was flamingly #guiltyyyy! (hashtag reference: Family Guy, Sn. 7, Epi. 8).
In 2011, I was privileged to march in the first world-wide military contingent to ever march in a Pride Parade (San Diego). My goosebumps were a clear sign of it’s surreality. I help up the very sign in this photo, (w/ balloons because I’m extra), for which I was interviewed by the Associated Press (first name pseudonym); friends stationed in various countries around the world reached out to tell me they read my interview and how proud they were of me. I don’t say that to brag, I say that to show you that even the smallest breath YOU make can create waves that reach the far corners of the earth, creating a positive impact. You matter, everything you say matters. You ARE a powerful wave!!!
I wear this tee as a celebration of the 10 year anniversary of the abolishment of the “Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell” policy that did emotional, mental, and sometimes physical harm to many service members, including myself. I stand in solidarity with those that were made to feel like they were less than human. I see you, I hear you, YOU ARE LOVED!
So go ahead…”Do Ask. Do Tell.” …Tell all your stories, because knowledge is power! Understanding and healing go hand-in-hand. Together we can work to heal the #collectiveconscious.