Michael Crawford

The Personal Impact of "Don't Ask Don't Tell"

Filed By Michael Crawford | September 28, 2009 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement

The Virginian-Pilot ran a fascinating story yesterday looking at the impact DADT is having on the lives and families of gay and lesbian soldiers who are forced to remain closeted. Rather than focus on the political or military implications of allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve openly, the writer focused on the personal stories of three gay soldiers.

They walk a fine line, constantly recalculating how much of their personal lives to share with co-workers, learning which doctors and chaplains they can trust, and in the safest cases, finding bosses who subtly make clear that actions, not adjectives, are the best measure of a good sailor.

Reading the stories, you got a small sense of the stress that gay and lesbian soldiers live with every single day they are in uniform in order to serve.

Frank, for example,

He didn't want to be gay. So he repressed it. He took his marriage vows seriously and stayed faithful to his wife, whom he met on duty.

His control lasted 10 years, until Frank realized he couldn't deny reality. The couple divorced. Their youngest child wasn't yet in school; the older one was in grade school.

Frank and his kids stayed together, and eventually his partner, Dave, joined them.

The arrangement was tested when Frank prepared to deploy a few years ago and Dave became the kids' guardian - taking them shopping, shuttling them to dentist and doctor appointments, overseeing their homework.

"It was rough. It was a little scary," Frank said. He knew his partner would be a good father figure, but he worried that the pressure of parenting might be too much for him.

It almost was. The couple came close to breaking up while Frank was gone, although Dave promised to take care of the kids regardless. They got through the rough patch and are still together.

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