They Didn't Ask. I Didn't Tell.
Homosexuality in the Military...Before It Was Legal.
When I was five years old, I knew that I desired to be with little girls both emotionally and sexually. I didn't know or understand what homosexuality was, but I knew that I wanted to be with a girl. As I aged into young adolescence, I had a steady boyfriend and attended dances and prom just like any other typical female. Still, I knew I wanted to be with a woman someday.
After high school, I enlisted into the military. Prior to acceptance, it was required that enlistees sign an oath stating that we were not homosexual or had engaged in any homosexual activities. I signed the declaration. I admit. It frightened me because deep down in my heart I knew that I was one, a homosexual. I abided by the oath I had taken and agreed not to engage in homosexual activity.
My commitment to the oath lasted for approximately one year, then my unhappiness with pretending to be heterosexual got the best of me. I began searching for a woman. It didn't take me long before I found my first girlfriend.
My first female relationship lasted approximately eight months, then I met my first serious female partner. She was a soldier like me, so we had a lot in common. She was married at the time, but her husband was stationed in Germany. She was raising an eight month old child at the time. We feel in love with each other. We were stationed together in Texas.
At the time, my unit was on temporary duty assignment and all soldiers were required to live in the barracks. I had two roommates at the time. I was so happy to have a woman and finally be truly happy with the person of my choice that I was wild and out of control. One night, I had sex with her in my barracks room while my two roommates were asleep. I do remind you that at this time homosexuality in the military was a crime and punishable under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.
I didn't care about any laws restricting me. I was happy. No one ever confronted me about the situation, but I knew that they all knew. I was such a good soldier, well liked, and kick ass Non Commissioned Officer, so I got away with having my own way. I had become so bold and obstinate that I hung her dirty thong from the rearview mirror of my car. I was basically flaunting it in everyone's face.
Although no one personally approached me, it wasn't long before the discrimination started. I was excluded from projects that initially I was picked first for. I was given several Article-15s for petty infractions. Friends that were once my friends started to give me the cold shoulder.
Eventually, things became so unbearable that I found myself in the Mental Health Clinic suffering from a severe case of Depression and Anxiety. Ultimately, it led me to honorably discharging from the military just at a little over seven years. This was truly heartbreaking to me, as I wanted to be a career soldier. I was at the top of my game. I made the rank of E-6 at just the age of 22. This was almost unheard of.
In later adulthood, I often wondered if my two roommates heard us having sex that night. I wondered how different my life would have been if I had never met that woman. My best friend is a Sergeant Major now and we both started off as Private First Class soldiers. Shortly after I met this woman, I'd say a year or two later, the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law was put into effect. In other words, it was do what you do, just don't let us hear about it.
Now in the year of 2020, it is legally acceptable for homosexuals to serve in the military and marry and have the same rights afforded to their heterosexual counterparts. I wish this would have been the case in 1999. Although "a day late and a dollar short", I am most proud of the personnel that fought for equal rights and protection under the law.
I am homosexual, African-American, a woman, and a Veteran with a Disability. Can you imagine the level of discrimination that I face everyday?