Editor’s note: Brian Ratto, 27, is a Manteca native living in Stockton. He’s also a gay man. Ratto came out more than a decade ago. In doing so, he joined an estimated 10 percent of the country’s population as a homosexual. This column is written from his perspective and does not reflect the opinion of The Collegian staff.
On Dec. 21, 1993 Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) a policy that restricts Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) men and women serving in the military openly, took effect.
The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell happened after 18 years, on Sept. 20.
Oct. 20, 2011 marks one month since the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
This step towards equality changed the world for thousands of American service men and women including one who I have met recently, Zoe Dunning, a 22-year veteran of the military.
Dunning keynoted the Central Valley Stonewall Democrats Leadership Awards Luncheon on Sunday Oct. 16, at which she was awarded the national leadership award for her work towards the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”.
I was honored to be awarded the youth leadership award for my work with Delta Pride, Central Valley Stonewall Democrats and in the LGBT community, at the same time as Dunning.
At one point in my life I had thought of becoming a United States Marine, but I could not bring myself to hide a part of me in order to serve.
While I was listening to Dunning’s speech, I was thinking of the way the recruiter reacted when I told him I was not going to be a Marine because I am gay. He yelled, then cursed, told me to leave and to never return.
Dunning was able to openly serve as a Lesbian during the period that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was law. She was the exception.
Having to hide who you are to protect the country that you love is horrible.
Giving your life for your country’s defense is a very honorable thing to, I will not say otherwise, but doing that and being open about your sexuality should be and now is perfectly okay.
I heard comedian Eddie Izzard years ago say that “a key factor to success in a war is the element of surprise” he went on to say that there is nothing more surprising than to have a transvestite brigade, with fantastic make-up and fantastic guns too.
There is nothing wrong with LGBT people serving in the military.
On midnight of Oct. 20, outservemag.com, an online LGBT military magazine released the 101 faces of DADT, and shortly thereafter thousands of service men and women came out.
I have many friends that have served years in the military, in the closet, they now are out and open about their sexuality.
Change has been made and equality is one step closer.
Don’t forget though, the repeal of DADT was a partial victory, the transgender community is still not allowed to serve. The military sees transgenders as people with Gender Identity Disorder.
According to University of Maryland Medical Center Gender Identity Disorder is a conflict between a person’s actual physical gender and the gender that person identifies himself or herself as.
The ban on transgendered service men and women in the military is unjust.
As lesbians, gays and bisexuals have recently been granted the right to serve openly so should the transgender community.
What can students do to help start this change?
Speak up, and speak out!
Students can use their voice to demand change.
With DADT ending one more doors open and one more fight has been won.
Thank you, to all those who fought the fight to end DADT, thus allowing the future the chance to shine.