It has been just over two years since the United States Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling on same-sex marriage equality and almost 6 years since the repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ policy. The Department of Defense should be proud of the progress that has so quickly been made.
The military community is full of new stories of acceptance, new stories of command events celebrating diversity, and new stories of individuals, who otherwise would have stayed in the shadows, are now stepping out into the light. (Insert clapping and cheering here).
More and more LGBT military spouses are volunteering, participating and being embraced by the military community.
I am one of those people. Yep, this 6’5”, 37-year-old grown man finally walks into the commissary by myself and goes grocery shopping. WHAT?!
When I first became a military spouse, I was scared and nervous at the thought of integrating myself into the military community. Even though Don’t Ask Don’t Tell had been repealed in September of 2011, it didn’t mean that all of a sudden the military community was going to welcome a gay male spouse with open arms.
I remember keeping my head down while shopping on base. I remember that lingering sensation that I didn’t belong. That people were staring at me. That I wasn’t supposed to be there. (What was I putting myself through?)
Then one year, my husband, Matthew, and I agreed we would face the fears, take a chance and attend a command holiday party.
This was the first time in 15 years of active duty service that he had taken anyone to a command event.
I was sweating bullets in my tuxedo. I was terrified and my imagination was running wild.
My head was full of what-if’s, like would we be bullied, or would we be heckled or even roughed up. I almost didn’t go in.
But I put on my big boy pants and walked into that room where an entire command awaited.
And my life has never been the same.
We were immediately greeted by a shipmate of Matthew’s. She walked up to us and obviously knew Matthew. He introduced her to me. I went to shake her hand, but she demanded a hug.
There it was, first contact. (For you non-trekkie readers, that means the first contact with an alien species, which is really what it felt like.)