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Telling a story: asking for support

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was enacted at exactly the same time that I was becoming fully aware of my sexuality. In 1993, I was a freshman in high school in rural Iowa. I already had crushes on a few of my fellow male classmates, and heard that “I was gay” by more than a few others.

The passing of DADT, and the subsequent media coverage and discussions around the dinner table, brought something very personal for me out into the open. As I listened to my parents and other adults’ opinions on the subject I didn’t always agree with what I heard, but I did my best to understand the issue at hand and kept quiet, thinking that their opinion on gay people serving openly in the military might also in some way be a judgment on yours truly.

Fast forward 16 years to 2010, after nearly a decade of campaigning and fundraising for LGBT equality in London, Los Angeles and New York. Through my volunteer and fundraising work for various LGBT organizations, I had taken on many issues affecting our community as my own. Seemingly, I had become a “jack of all causes” – but was concerned with also becoming a master of none.

By joining the staff of SLDN, I am receiving a crash course on DADT, as well as the variable nature of public discourse surrounding it and the path to repeal. As I learn about this issue, I am reminded of those dinner table conversations about “gays in the military.” And once again, as I listen to others’ opinions on the subject, I don’t always agree with what I hear, but I do my best to understand. The difference, however, is that now I do not remain silent.

Now, as a Major Gifts Officer, I am responsible for speaking with others about the issue, informing them about our mission and services, and garnering their support. It is work that I find challenging and very fulfilling.

Even though I am young and seem to have less experience with politics and public policy than almost everyone else in this city, I have lived long enough to know that it is empowering to be honest about who you are. DADT is discriminatory and simply cannot withstand the arc of our nation’s history bending toward justice for all.

There will be a day when DADT comes to an end, but until that day comes I will continue to tell our stories and ask for your support.