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Out in the military: One year without ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

One year without DADT

On Sept. 20, the United States military will mark the one-year anniversary of the official repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the 1993 law that barred gays and lesbians from openly serving in the armed services. As the milestone nears, gay military members are thrilled to be able to be out, but note that inequities remain.

“During DADT, I did not ever hang out with other gays or even act on doing anything in fear of being caught so I waited until it was repealed to come out,” said Joshua Gravett, a gay Georgia native and sergeant in the U.S. Army currently stationed in Afghanistan.

Before repeal, Gravett — who enlisted at age 17 — planned to leave the Army. Now, he is considering completing the 20-year military career that would allow him to retire from the service at age 37.

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Melissa Carter: Marking the first Memorial Day without ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Melissa CarterMy father was a war veteran. During a debate on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” with me years ago, he shared his thoughts on why straight men in the military were uncomfortable with gays serving.

It had nothing to do with sexuality, my dad explained, but instead came from an interpretation of weakness. He personally had no concern about someone hitting on him, but he was convinced a gay man would lose his nerve in battle and cause my father to die along with him.

That was based on the way my father grew up, thinking the only gay men he knew were the extremely effeminate men he saw around town and misinterpreted their character and womanly gait as frail.

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Soldiers in Afghanistan say ‘It Gets Better’

Soldiers in Afghanistan say 'It Gets Better'

A group of soldiers serving in Afghanistan are lending their voices to the “It Gets Better” project, a viral movement meant to reach out to bullied queer youth.

“It's hard being different when you're young and even when you're old. But once you realize that you have friends that are going to accept you for who you are, and the sooner the accept yourself for who you are, the sooner you'll realize that life gets better,” one female soldier says in the video.

A year ago, these soldiers could have been discharged under the military's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy. The discriminatory law was officially overturned on Sept. 20, 2011. Some 13,000 soldiers were discharged due to their sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation before the law was repealed.