As So So Gay has written before, gay military personnel serve their country with every bit as much determination, pride and distinction as their straight colleagues. When we interviewed gay Royal Air Force personnel in April, one message came through clearly: it doesn’t matter who you sleep with – it’s how you do your job that matters.
That’s been the case in the British armed forces since 2000, but the US has taken rather longer to reach the point where openly gay, bisexual and lesbian personnel can serve alongside their colleagues without fear of being thrown out of the military. On 20 September, however, the US government repealed ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ (DADT) – the policy, signed into US law by President Clinton in 1993, that said it was okay to be gay but not to be honest about it. As of the moment DADT was lifted, a raft of legal cases and charges were dismissed, and recruitment applications from openly gay civilians started to be processed.
Movingly, one soldier has taken to YouTube to be one of the first serving personnel to come out. The soldier, who serves in Germany and has chosen to remain anonymous, has been tracking his experience of preparing to be open about his sexuality since April. On 19 September, as the ban was lifted, he called his father in Alabama to have that conversation. I’ll leave you to judge the response.