I can’t really add anything to this; it is a perfect comment, from a hero who prefers not to use his real name, for obvious reasons. This man has my total respect, and I’m very, very glad that Canada hasn’t had such a nefarious policy as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell:
I spent twenty years in the military and every day I feared being found out. Yet, every time I had the opportunity to get out, I did not until I completed enough time to retire. It sounds like bullshit, I know, but I really felt the need and desire to serve our country. My civilian gay friends always kidded me about being in the service (trust me in my case anyways being at sea was no sexual picnic – think 2 months without leaving your office and co-workers). They chided me as well for being in an environment that didn’t want me. But I truly felt the need to stay and serve as a good example for others. I survived at least three investigations that I knew of along as a couple of security clearance checks, including one for top secret clearance.
I like to think that I survived because I was a good trooper, a patriot. But I also survived because I was surrounded by officers and non-coms who believed in me. One day when I was a junior petty officer on Governors Island, my boss, a lieutenant commander pulled me aside and said, Look, you are probably gay, but my advice to you is this: don’t eat where you sh*t. We both laughed, but I took his point to heart. In or out of the military, gay or straight, you don’t fool around at work, period, and I carried this with me until the end of my career.
I had numerous gay friends throughout my military career. I wish I had been able to connect with others to commiserate, but the fear of being seen with any of those guys… I couldn’t get over it. And now, on the eve of the end of DADT, I don’t know what became of so many of those guys. Several are dead, dying from AIDS in 80s and 90. The others, I hope they are like me tonight, thinking of the groundwork we laid all those years.
Right now, a friend of mine in the Army is celebrating his engagement to his partner of many years – a partner who had to keep his relationship secret while my friend was in Afghanistan and Iraq on multiple tours. This day is a great victory for them and for all of us who love our country and want to serve in its defense.