I generally hate tit-for-tat diaries. You know, where someone writes a diary in response to another diary which usually begets another diary reaffirming the first diary's point of view. I'm making an exception, though, because I feel very strongly about this particular issue.
Someone recently posted a diary suggesting that now is not the time for President Obama to take up the issue of Don't Ask/Don't Tell. Most people disagreed with the diarist as do I. My reason is entirely personal and I feel compelled to share it.
I joined the Navy in 1989, largely to get out of my stale hometown but also because most of my family had been in either the Army or the Navy; sort of the family business. I chose the Navy because my recruiter was, in a word, hot. If he hadn't been married I think we might have broken some military rules. But I digress.
I was discharged from the Navy in November of 1992 because I admitted to having a homosexual relationship.
When I was stationed in Georgia I began a relationship with a shipmate, a woman who was one of several roommates. The relationship continued for a couple of years until I transferred to Mississippi. It had been rocky because she openly had a boyfriend during the same period. In fact, I was with her when she had an abortion. I think both of us were looking for companionship and someone to understand us. She was my first and only lesbian relationship; her boyfriend was her first and only straight relationship. But, anyway, once I transferred we started drifting apart and things came to a head when, during a visit back to Georgia, she admitted to sleeping with one of our friends the night before. I had taken a lot during the relationship but I had had enough. I went back to Mississippi and made a huge mistake: I confided in a friend about the relationship. That friend in turn told the Command Master Chief (highest ranking enlisted person on the base). The CMC confronted me with the allegation and gave me a couple of options: I could admit to the relationship, take an honorable discharge, and that would be the end of the investigation; or the Navy would do a fullblown investigation of all my friends and colleagues in order to weed out the coven of lesbians in their midst and, presumably, dishonorably discharge the lot of us. I took option number 1. It was my big mouth that started the trouble. I figured the least I could do was be the one to take the hit.
Of course, I wasn't thinking quite clearly at the time. See, when the CMC came to confront me I was in a psychiatric ward following a failed suicide attempt as well as battling an ongoing bout of anorexia. I will never in my life forget the CMC and I sitting at a picnic table while he laid out my options and then had me sign away any Naval career I had planned. But the Navy was kind enough to wait several months until I was medically cleared before they discharged me from both the hospital and the service.
I was a very good sailor. I graduated first in my class from A-school (training) and received several commendations from my subsequent commanders. I made E-5 on the first attempt although I did not get to add the stripe. My friends and I didn't cause any trouble; we went to great pains to hide what we were so we wouldn't get into trouble either with fellow sailors or with the command. Looking back the whole thing was ridiculous in terms of the relationship and the way we had to operate. We weren't hurting anyone and we were more than capable of doing our jobs.
My discharge papers clearly state that I was discharged for being a homosexual. It could have been an issue with subsequent employment but, luckily, it has not been. But anyone who says that we should to wait to repeal DADT needs to realize they are real people who want to serve their country despite this ban who are being impacted. These people also need to realize that discharge on such grounds may affect the person in their professional career, although I hope those chances are slim and getting slimmer. But, the whole thing makes me very sad.
Thank you for letting me tell my story.