We all know that the repeal of DADT failed about a week ago. It failed despite widespread public support and plenty of press. And in the aftermath, it’s easy to get caught up in the loudmouthed pundits and paper-bound politics of it all—oh, and the crazies.
But here’s a voice we need to hear more of: an actual gay soldier in the military. Jezebel published this touching letter to loved ones from a gay serviceman about to ship out to Afghanistan.
Despite having seen his own brother come “home with an American flag draped over his coffin,” the writer is clearly devoted to the service.
I understand the fragility of life and the dangers of serving. And the additional burden of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is one I choose to carry. I volunteered for deployment, and I continue to serve. It’s my deepest core value, whatever the cost.
His letter is at once heart-wrenching and angry. He writes that “this policy is nothing more than politics” and that he tries not to think about “how destructive it is to peoples’ lives, to military units, readiness, and to the progression of our country to a better place.” He tries not to because when he does think about it, he “seethes with anger.”
And more importantly, the letter is strikingly personal.
The silence is the hardest part. I listen intently as my fellow soldiers talk about facing the reality of leaving their loved ones for a year and all the life events that will be missed. I don’t talk about my own experience at all, because it’s easier to come across as cold and removed than to risk slipping and mentioning that my loved one is of the same gender. For all I know, there are other gay soldiers in my unit, ones who understand what I’m going through. My gay friends in civilian life are supportive, but they don’t often understand the military or soldiering. That camouflage is another burden I carry as I prepare to leave.
Thanks to Jezebel for giving the world this glimpse into what gay soldiers go through every day.