Does protocol demand the Joint Chiefs of Staff remain impassive and unemotional during presidential addresses? Joe Jervis notes thePentagon brass "lept to their feet to applaud" the president's threat to destroy Iran's nuclear ambitions (below) while they remained grim-faced during the mention of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (above).
Rob Smith is a black gay Iraq War veteran. Writing at the Huffington Post, the New York City-based writer and After Elton contributor say it was "incredulous" the "supposed military leaders watched our president with absolute revulsion as he announced his steps to end" the failed policy.
I'm a gay Iraq war veteran, and I believe President Obama has been the greatest ally to LGBT people and gay veterans that we've ever had in a President. The risks he takes by simply including us in his plans to move forward with America continue to be vastly underestimated by most people, though I believe he will do much more, as evidenced by his words last night. To those supposed leaders of the United States military who watched our president with absolute revulsion as he announced his steps to end this, to those men whose faces brought back the memories of every time I was called a "faggot" while I served and forced to keep any affirmative response bottled up, thus "out" myself and lose all that I had risked everything for, I have this to say: gay veterans aren't worthless. I'm not worthless. The blood I shed was the same as every other soldier's, the tears I cried were the same, the bullets that I dodged the same; the life that I risked is the same. I'm not worthless or perverted or sick, and neither is any other gay person in this world, veteran or not. I was a gay soldier.
In 1999, at 17, I entered the United States Army from a small town in Ohio, needing to find both a way in life and a way to finance the college education I so desperately needed to rise above my lower-middle class roots. My burgeoning sexuality was but a small thought in my mind, not really knowing what "gay" was, let alone whether it really described me, but that question would be answered in my mind during my formative years, which just so happened to be spent in the U.S. Army...
I'll tell you what serving in the military under DADT did to me: It made my sexual orientation a secret shame which was never to be discussed under threat of dishonorable discharge and revocation of my benefits. It kept me distant from my fellow soldiers, for if I were to slip up and say a little too much about the real me for even a second, I couldn't trust that they wouldn't turn me in and end my career in a matter of weeks. It stunted my emotional and sexual development as a gay man so much that I was in my mid twenties before falling in love for the first time, something that happens for most people in their late teens. It sent me into the wrong places looking for the romantic affection that my heterosexual fellow soldiers were able to openly practice, discuss, and experience without the threat of disciplinary action. Most hurtful of all, being constantly reminded through DADT that my sexual orientation was bad, wrong, and perverted instilled a feeling of worthlessness in me that took years to undo following my honorable discharge from the military.
Smith, who previously was on VH1's I Want to Work for Diddy, co-hosts the After Elton's Mocha Lounge vlog.