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Holidays show double standard of DADT

The holiday season heralds a spirit of celebration and goodwill to those who have the support of family and friends. Although stress and separation from loved ones is a part of life for most service members, LGBT patriots often experience a greater sense of loneliness during the holidays. Throughout my seven years of service in the United States Air Force, these are feelings I faced around this time of year.

Time away from family and friends is always difficult. Some holidays I celebrated with other LGBT military members. Other times I was not so lucky and celebrated alone.

My coworkers were very caring and would always invite me to be a part of their family celebrations. I appreciated these invites but also resented them. Most of the invites I received were based on the understanding that I was a "single" Airman who would spend the holiday alone. Many times I was in a relationship and had to pretend I was not. It was difficult to explain to my straight counterparts that I already had plans...at which point I feared the question, "What are your plans?"

Now that I am an openly gay Department of Defense contractor, I can spend the holidays with my true extended family. Recently I was invited by coworkers to celebrate the holidays with them. They even said I could bring my boyfriend (they assumed I had one) if I wanted. I was able to tell them that I am single and planning to ring in the season with other LGBT military personnel who are away from their families.

This honest exchange of words was the most liberating and joyous conversation I have been privileged to experience. I hope my fellow LGBT military friends will be able to have the same open and honest dialogue with their colleagues next year without fear of losing their careers.