The Party

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Only a month ago I was unable to disclose my status as a gay man in the military. Fast forward to Tuesday of last week, when I stood as a guest to a party celebrating the launch of the anthology “Our Time“, a collection of stories from other gay, lesbian, and straight servicemembers, negatively affected by the “Don’t Ask” ban on open service for gays in the military. The contrast is stark.

Under the policy I was afraid to tell my story to a stranger who didn’t even know my name. The experience of now “telling” a room full of book-launch party-goers, to include actress Julianne Moore, NY City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and fashion entrepreneur Calvin Klein was surreal. And I was not alone, it was great to be accompanied by the book’s other contributors, some of whom were seeing their words in print for the first time.

It’s important for these stories to be heard. With DADT out of the way the clock is ticking for gay troops to create a cultural shift to a state where LGBT servicemembers are considered to be “one of the gang”. This book is a great move in the right direction.

The stories it contains run the gambit of being uplifting, heart wrenching, and moving. It deals with HIV/AIDS, the death of a partner and the struggle of going into work the next day, the discharge process, and dealing with hiding relationships while deployed.

In my contribution to the book I detail how the affects of DADT forced me to push friends away and how it left me feeling cold, empty, and robbed of some of the closest relationships I should have had in my military career. It was important for me to be able to contribute to the book. As with my role here at BattleLand, the act of telling these stories is how equality will be achieved. The humanizing effect of hearing first-hand accounts help to make DADT hit close to home for people who have never experienced discrimination in their own lives.