Ep 09. DADT

Apr 4, 2017

Bryan & Jordan

Bryan wanted to be an all American hero. Jordan wanted to play with swords. For both of them, joining the Marines had nothing to do with their sexuality, but as gay men during the era of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, the issue was in many ways unavoidable.


I notice that Jordan’s just kinda standing in the corner not doing anything. And I’m drunk enough to have the thought of “yeah I hate this guy, but I can still get something out of him.”




I have a straight up like panic attack while I’m going in there.  There’s millions of people in there, there’s loud music. So I kind of like cling to a wall.


The original story was part of an AMA that Bryan did on Reddit in 2012 https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1036hi/its_been_a_year_since_the_end_of_dadt_iama_gay/

You can find out more about how LGBT veterans and members of the armed services are effected by DADT by visiting https://www.outserve-sldn.org/

There is also a Gay Marines Facebook Page. https://www.facebook.com/TheGayMarines


Episode 9 was produced by Bart Warshaw

Support from the Kismet team Danny Lewis & Zoe Saunders


I had a lot of different reasons for wanting to join the Marine Corps, but mostly I just had a neurotic sense of honor and wanting to take care of family.

I was in kind of a bad place in my life, um.

I had a very negative opinion of the military in general.

and uh, I got a call from the recruiter.

Then the Marine Corps recruiters came by…

He described to me the benefits of joining the Marine Corps. Things like pride of belonging, self-discipline, brotherhood…

You know, just the way that they presented themselves was very different.

The appeal of joining an organization that would, that would teach me, take care of me, give me value, give me purpose.

It imbued a lot of those attributes that I would like, you know, any kid wants to have when they want to be a hero one day.

It was such an exciting time, and there was so much promise to it that any sort of speed bump in the road didn’t occur to me.

I was very lucky because I figured out I was gay when I was 12, but I didn’t figure out I was Mormon until I was like 13.

I, I can say that I’ve known that I was homosexual since I was 5 years old.

I kinda understood Mormon culture didn’t appreciate me being gay.

It was just this wonderful news that I learned about myself that I wanted to share.

So when the opportunity came to join the Marine Corps, and I decided to, I understood that I would have to be closeted, but I already had the skill sets for it.

The response from the recruiter was basically, you know, he closed his ears and went “la la la la la. I don’t want to hear it. I’m not gonna say anything about it.” And that is how the law works. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy basically says…

The subject of homosexuality is not to be discussed.

As long as you’re not caught you’re okay.

The full, the full title of the law is Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Harass, Don’t Pursue.

Do the wrong thing, just don’t get caught doing it.

The reality was that people would bother you, and they would bother you a lot.

A stereotypical situation I would be in is…

My rackmate is just trying to start conversation, and he just asks, you know, you know “you got a girl back home?”

Just the off-handed comment, you know, “what kind of girls do you like?”

And I responded immediately, in a heartbeat I was like “well no, I don’t date girls.”

You know, I can’t be like ones that look like Josh Hartnett. And…

Suddenly you know we both stop and look at each other, cuz we just realized we just broke Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell right there.

I, uh, would be put in these awkward situations where I want to be your friend, I wanna talk to you about these things. I can’t tell you the truth, though.

So that, that was, that was the first hurdle, was, you know. Just how easy telling would be.

I, you don’t know how to navigate it at that point. Other than just shutting up and not being friendly with anybody.

If I’m essentially lying about something so essential to myself, what else am I keeping secret, or what else am I expected to keep secret?

DADT in particular really trained me to not become intimate with my coworkers.

I was expected to just sit in my room and enjoy the silence.

I ended up making friends with another gay Marine, whose name was Adam.

Adam had this, uh, he had a lot of ideas.

He was the type of gay man that you didn’t need to ask.

I had told Adam before that I was having issues with actually meeting people in general.

Adam immediately told me “hey, there’s this other Marine that you should meet, because you know, it’s good for us all to be buddies.” And being Marine, cachet at Kansas City is not huge. So the fact that there were three of us within the same barracks, that doesn’t happen. But it did happen.

Adam was like “hey, why don’t you come upstairs and meet the other gay guy in the barracks.

Jordan was a very shy person. He liked to just be in his room, play his video games, be by himself. So he gave the excuse that “no, he had too much to do.”

You know I can’t, I have to fold my cammies.

He had to prep his uniform for the next day.

The Marine Corps in particular, we roll our sleeves up.

Every night we would unfurl our sleeves, iron them, and then re-roll them.

It’s the Marine Corps equivalent of, you know, “I had to wash my hair.”

I end up just typing up: “hey, if you bring your uniform, I will…

no, come up here. Bryan, Bryan will…

I’ll roll your sleeves, just come up

Uh, fold your cammies for you. And it’s like, “okay, fine.”

So, that convinces him. And so he comes up.

I come in through the door.

And the first thing he does.

I’m like, “okay, I’m here,” and I toss my shirt onto the seat.

Doesn’t shake my hand. Doesn’t even fully acknowledge that I’m there.

I didn’t realize Bryan was in the seat.

He just tosses me his blouse.

So I literally throw my cammies at his face. And I just see this look on Bryan’s face like, you know, “the fuck, asshole?”

I don’t even want him here anymore.

In my head I think I said “oh I’m sorry” like a million times, but I don’t think Ie ver actually said it.

So I’m immediately just like “oh my God, I hate this guy.”

I think Bryan told me that was the moment he decided he hated me.

There was a lot of threat, under DADT, and it all came down to the people around you.

If we were caught, there was a chance that we would immediately be processed to be discharged.

That isn’t necessarily how it would be played.

That was the worst you would get.

The worst case scenario isn’t someone figuring out that you’re gay and then kicking you out. The worst case scenario is that they try you for this, but they don’t do actual court martial type stuff, they do the non-judicial punishment type stuff. That’s where they just bump down your rank, they give you extra obnoxious duties.

We would bring shame upon our families, we’d bring shame upon our Marines.

And they fuck with you until the end of your contract.

We would be labelled as a villain.

Then they kick you out with, you know, other than honorable.

People with dishonorable discharges do not command respect in the civilian world. Which again goes back to what I was talking about earlier, about the integrity of the military. When that is the typical reaction, that’s not a good thing.

And that pressure was kind of the worst part of it.

A few weeks later, Adam, he comes up with the idea that, that, um…

Adam decided, you know, he’s gonna make one last real try at this.

You know, one Sunday night, we’re gonna go out all three of us, and we’re just gonna have a good time.

So, we go out and, we go to a restaurant called Buca di Beppo.

We go to some really nice Italian place.

We get these huge servings of food that the entire table enjoys.

And we order two different kinds of pasta.

Typical stuff, we order a marinara dish and an Alfredo dish.

One red sauce, one white sauce.

We’re just like, that’s enough, we’ll just eat.

I love pasta. So you know, I’m grabbing all the noodles in one. And I put them on my plate.

So, while we’re eating, Jordan, he takes the spoon.

And I use the same spoon

from the Marinara sauce.

My red pasta bowl…

And uses it to scoop up the Alfredo sauce.

The white pasta bowl.

That’s a sin.

I have never seen someone so offended…

I don’t care who you are, that’s a sin.

I don’t even remember what he said, but it was some kind of, you know, “what the hell are you doing?”

You don’t use the red sauce spoon to scoop up the white sauce.

You don’t mix the red with the white. There’s this, like standoff, and um, Bryan did the “it’s okay, it’s okay.”

I’ve had it with you!

I formally, officially acknowledge that…

You’ve crossed every line, at this point.

You know, I hate you.

After that, we decide, you know.

They want to go to a club.

So we go to this bar, it’s called Missie B’s in Kansas City.

I had never been to a club before. I’d never drank alcohol before.

So we go, and…

Adam disappears into the ether. Bryan is like, well, go fuck yourself, and he like goes off and does his own thing. I have a straight-up, like panic attack, while I’m going in there. There’s millions of people everywhere, there’s loud music, so I kinda like cling to a wall.

I notice that Jordan’s just kinda standing in the corner, not doing anything. And I’m drunk enough to have the thought of: “Yeah, I hate this guy, but I can still get something out of him.

Bryan finds his way back to me.

So I go up to him, I do my flirtatious thing, you know, I take off my shirt.

And he has his shirt off because he’s been dancing. And he’s like “hey, what’s going on?”

And he’s not really having any of it, and uh, suddenly he just says.

Just so you know, this is not working out for me

[Together] I’m gonna go to the car

Um, when you and Adam are done…

You guys have fun.

Come get me.

When you guys are ready to go home, I’ll take you. Bryan apparently misheard me, he had been drinking.

I was very drunk.

And he was like

[Together] Oh, well I’ll come with you

We get into his car, and we immediately just start talking.

And he asked me, “so, how are you doing?” And I just like, open up.

Like Jordan is definitely one of those people that as soon as he gets talking, he can tell you about anything and he will keep your attention.

Uh, he probably let me talk for like a good half hour, of just vomiting information about myself.

He was suddenly more straightforward.

It didn’t occur to me just how much his demeanor and posture changed.

He just turned into a completely different person.

He just started talking to me like for reals.

And I put my shirt back on. I suddenly got out of that mindset, and I suddenly just wanted to be his friend.

I remember that feeling vividly, because it was a very exciting feeling. It was like: “oh my god, this guy is, this guy is gold. I need him in my life.”

We end up talking for a good six hours. We went to his car at 10:00, and we found Adam at 4:00 a.m., when we suddenly remembered “oh wait, the bar is closing, we should go get Adam.

And when we finally get to the barracks…

We end up going our separate ways because we have work in the morning.

And I go down to my room. And I have this like real now or never moment. So I like replay all the movies in my head that inform me how this is supposed to work.

I go downstairs outside for a cigarette, and I come back up and I find Jordan standing outside my door with his hand raised as if readying himself to knock.

And I knock on his hatch. He opens it. And he’s like, “yes?”

Hey, you know, what’s up?

I think I actually like point the finger at him and everything, I’m dramatic, and I’m like…

And he just turns to me, and he just goes:

I’m going to take you out to dinner tomorrow.

Um, be ready. And then suddenly he paused and was like.

And, that’s when I like break and I realize

[if that’s okay with you]

I don’t know if like what your work timeline is, I don’t know when you actually get out, you don’t have anything going on, do you? And I start like just babbling.

Here was his last ditch effort to have this tough facade about him, and then suddenly he cracks.

Bryan kinda like stops and…

And I’m just like immediately like “yeah that’s okay, that’s great. I would love to, thank you.”

I would like that, yea.

You know, we look around us to make sure there’s no other Marines present, and we lean in and we give each other a quick kiss.

Bryan like gave me a kiss.

It’s like “hey yea, this is a thing now.”

And I’m just like, “oh okay, oh that’s cool.”

Uh, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed…

It was repealed on September 20th, 2011.

And uh, everyone experienced DADT repeal differently, I’m sure.

Uh, it was actually a very, very nonchalant thing.

I think the vast majority of people will say it was very underwhelming.

The day came, the rule was changed. There have not been any major incidents that show that the repeal was a bad thing.

The most that I had heard anyone do is what Bryan did, where he put a picture of the two of us up.

I took out a picture of Jordan and I, that I had kept in my drawer.

Like, in his cubicle.

And I put it out on my desk.

And that was it.

And that was it.