Comments from the Web
Published Thursday, 07-Oct-2010 in issue 1189
Kenny Kardashian says:
I, too, served in the Navy and also swore the same oath, not really knowing what lay ahead. While for most people, being gay is dangerous I was lucky to experience minimal discrimination and teasing. However, I was not immune from such teasing. Everyone at my shore duty facility at Naval Air Staton North Island in San Diego knew I was gay and while I made a risky move, when people asked, I told. However, there was no one running to the officer in charge. Most the people that asked me said they were “cool with it”, or others simply just knew.
I am not the most butch guy in the world, but my feminine mannerisms and the way I was did catch the attention of some few people in leadership chain of command around me. They would not investigate but instead hit me where would hurt, in my evaluation scores, rather than try to discharge me under DADT. My annual evaluation was handed to me and on the back page was an “X” in the box Not recommended for retention. That’d be the justification for my discharge code of RE-4, as low evaluation scores can be used to deny a member further service.
I recieved a discharge of Honorable, with the RE-4 code. I was lucky that I didn’t get discharged under DADT, with my VA benefits intact, but I am unfortunately tagged as an RE-4 meaning that I can never return again, ever. I’m marked as an undesirable.
For many, discharged under DADT, they recieve a Other than Honorable with an RE-4 which includes loss of certain VA benefits.
I feel my discharge is bittersweet because I still have my VA benefits, but if DADT were to be overturned and all discharged DADT members reinstated with their full benefits and a return to active service, my RE-4 prevents me from ever returning. I didn’t have much to go home to when I left for the Navy so I set up my life here in San Diego, as a civilian and made a new life for myself. It was hell, I could hardly find a job, couldn’t make as much money as I did. I worked in other industries mainly because I had not wanted anything to do with I previously did. I’ve lived in the streets three times, I’ve lived in a people’s homes I’ve lived in a shelter for a few months and I’ve even lived in Tijuana. I don’t work anymore I rarely talk about my Navy career. When I mention it now, I say, it didn’t work out and end of story. I do think about it from time to time, but I moved on, I am now enrolled in school, lighting up the local stages as a drag entertainer, pursuing and making my dreams. Though as lucky as I was, I feel like I was discharged under DADT, because I still feel the sting and pain of the Navy’s rejection of who I am
Charles Pratt says:
In each race where there an LGBT candidate (e.g. County Supervisor) or a person who may be characterized as homophobic in some fashion (District 6 City Council), the media tends to focus only on LGBT issues and concerns as the determinants of our voting behavior. I, and I believe many of us in the LGBT community, study a candidate’s positions on a wide range of issues, not just those of primary concern to LGBTs. Recent pieces in GLT and VOSD have seemed to assume we are all single issue voters. I think we do, and we should, consider all of a candidate’s positions.
Dan Choi is one very gutsy, frank, real human being with courage...and he makes me proud every time I see or hear or read about him. There are very few heros of late...our president is certainly not one of them, nor many in the rest of Washington politics.
If you have not heard Dan’s video from his speech on love, find it and listen. He makes our politicians sound like they have their heads in the sand to let the outrage of DADT and DOMA continue.
Bravo Dan Choi!
Jamie S says:
Thank you for publicizing your story Autumn. We should remind people that a large percentage of transgendered people are veterans, most of whom served while closeted.
My partner, also a transgender woman, and a recent Valedictorian graduate of SDSU was discharged from the Navy several years ago under DADT for being transgendered.
It is long past time for the US military to join other civilized nations and repeal DADT.
US Army - 82nd