Growing up in a military family in Atlanta, Joshua Gravette said he knew he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father, Eddie, and older brother, Justin, both first-rate sergeants in the military. There was just one problem: he was gay.
Despite military policy at the time prohibiting gay men and lesbians from serving openly, Gravett, then just 17, enlisted in the Army in 2003 and kept his sexuality a secret for eight years.
“You cannot have any kind of relationship. I will not be seen with anyone else who can be considered gay, ”said Gravette, noting that just being suspected of being gay can leave you out.
President Barack Obama signed a bill setting the proposal in a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” proposal on December 22, 2010, but it wasn’t until after the policy was officially repealed in 2011 that Gravette finally arrived. Began for his friends and family. He also recalled the relief he felt that he could put a photo of his partner at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and bring a same-sex date for a military-ceremonial.
Gravette, now 35 and a Sergeant First Class stationed in Texas, said, “I could have completed myself almost a decade before I finished the loss of my career.” “It was a huge weight that I was put off.”
Gravett said that “Bury Obama” has been reminded to be “happy” the day Barack Obama signed the repeal bill, but added that “it still can’t come out until it’s effective” Lets do it”
He said, “It was almost as if you found out you’re getting promoted, but it’s not real until it actually happens.”
According to statistics, 13,000 service members were discharged in 17 years, according to army data provided to The Associated Press.
Much has changed for LGBTQ Americans a decade after the demise of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but many gay service members and military experts say the dark shadow of the policy is still lingering.
Dull shadow of a faulty policy
In 1993 when President Bill Clinton signed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, it was an agreement between the White House and Congress to end the current policy of banning outright gay service members for World War II. . Under the new policy – which passed 77-22, with bipartisan support – gay men, lesbians and bisexuals were allowed to serve in the military, but would be “separated from the armed forces” if they disclosed themselves to be gay. Do bisexual, try to marry a person of the same sex, or there was evidence that they were engaged in same-sex sexual activity.
Gravett said the policy left a “hurting” legacy, and he mentioned being a part of several Facebook groups where former service members lament losing their military careers because “don’t ask, don’t tell” And are not able to serve again.
He also stated that many service members who were excluded under the policy are not aware that they may be able to seek treatment from the military.
“Most people who under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ can upgrade their discharge from normal discharge to honorable discharge,” he said, who has not tried to do so already.
Texas native Jennifer Dane, who joined the military at the age of 22 and worked as an intelligence analyst in the Air Force from 2010 to 2016, said that when it comes to “don’t ask, don’t tell” results that Not completed even after 10 years.
Dane, now 33, said he was stationed in Tucson, Arizona when he was investigated under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” after reporting that he had been sexually assaulted by an airman. During the investigation, Dane stated that his sexuality was revealed, which turned the investigation towards him. According to Dane, Obama closed the investigation after signing the repeal bill.
Now the executive director of the Modern Military Association of America, a nonprofit company that advocates for LGBTQ veterans and their families, Dane said he publicly acknowledged some of these “wrongs” as a result of “written rights” Want to see, like public apologies to the government or even “making sure we don’t do policies that are harmful” again.
Dane said some LGBTQ veterans who “still don’t have access to medical care, GI bills and military pensions” under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” do not include the emotional trauma that service members endured under the policy, he said. said.
Aaron Belkin is the founder of the Palm Center, an independent research institute in San Francisco that focuses on LGBTQ military issues. His organization helped make the case for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.
Belkin said, “We spent 10 years researching the question of whether it is true that homosexuals hurt the military, and our research has found that it is discrimination that harms the military, gays and lesbians. No.”
Belkin, Dane, and Gravett all expressed similarities between the earlier restrictions in the military and the current ban on transgender service members serving openly in the military.
“The Trump administration’s transgender ban is’ don’t ask, don’t tell for transgender soldiers, and the similarities are striking,” Belkin said. His organization, using 2016 data from the Department of Defense, estimated that there are currently 14,700 transgender service members on active duty or in reserves.
‘New era of LGBTQ rights’
One of the thousands of transgender service members currently serving is Iowa native Samuel Pantra. Now 22, Pyntra began serving openly as a transgender man in the Navy on 19, when he boarded his ship stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. He started hormone treatment on April 11, 2019, a day before the ban on openly serving trans soldiers. He said that while some were accepting his transition, others were not sure how to respond to it, as it was seen as “gray”. Area ”at that time.
“I really should have been careful what I said about my personal life and some people about my transition, because there were quite a few people making negative comments,” said Patern. Transgender because he joined the military before the transgender ban was restored. “I have done some kind of bad stuff, but it is always bad with good kind of people who have supported me.”
Transgender individuals with no history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria are technically still allowed to join the military and serve under the policy, although they must do so as of their birth gender. Payntr reported that some hormone treatments make some service members ineligible to serve, adding that he is aware that both trans service members were terminated after the ban and who did not depend on their diagnosis.
“Fortunately, depending on the command we were in or the branch we were in, we had people who were very knowledgeable in our transition, defending us and like, ‘No, it doesn’t affect your service Is, and what has happened literally is for me and quite a few other people I know who are in the Navy who are transitioning, “he said.
In his policy forum, President-Elect Joe Biden said he would “reverse the transgender military ban.” And since the ban was implemented as a presidential directive, Biden would be able to reverse it unilaterally. Payntr expressed optimism that Biden would make good on this promise.
At the 2020 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference this month, Biden honored speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, for the work of repeating “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” over a decade ago and indicated future repeal. Current trans military ban.
“I can’t wait to work with you again and continue the struggle for full equality and usher in the new era of LGBTQ rights and the whole movement,” said Biden, who took office on January 20.
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