Welcome

Thank you for visiting paducahsun.com, the online home of The Paducah Sun.

Calendar
June 2012
S M T W T F S
27 28 29 30 31 01 02

Click here to submit an event.

Gay soldiers relieved by overturn

The Leaf-chronicle

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - While the military policy of "don't ask, don't tell" and the overturning of part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act opened doors more widely to gay people serving openly in the military, it didn't mark radical changes to the way the fighting force looked or behaved.

Instead, it brought the possibility of marriage and spousal benefits to soldiers that were previously denied. And, an opportunity to live more freely. "When you come out and you've been out so long, it's hard to just go back in," said Spc. Corderra Dews, 24, who was living in Austin, Texas, and openly gay before he joined the Army in 2011.

While there are no solid statistics on the number of gay and lesbian soldiers currently in the military, a group of soldiers at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, spoke with The Leaf-Chronicle (http://leafne.ws/1llnGqP) about life in the military before and after the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell' and the Army's decision to extend benefits to same-sex spouses, furthering the full inclusion of gay and lesbian soldiers in the military.

Each soldier spoke about being concerned about their sexuality surfacing while the policy was in place, in some cases walking away from conversations that turned uncomfortable and, in the case of Spc. Brian Scott, being married to a woman as cover.

Scott, 28, is in the Army Reserve, but he was active-duty at Fort Campbell from 2009 to early 2011 in the 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne as a fire support specialist. He is also the chapter leader for Kentucky's OutServe-SLDN, a national organization dedicated to LGBT equality and ending harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the military.

"I definitely had that fear of not being complete and still having to hide that part of me," Scott said. "You've got to lie to yourself and lie to the person you're with."

Stereotypes of gay people remain prevalent and deep-rooted, particularly about gay men.

"Everyone expects them to be very, very flamboyant," Scott said.

Sgt. Cristian Saldana, 23, gets similar reactions. Saldana is in communications with 326th Engineer Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, and he is married to Spc. Nicholas Harriel.

"I always get the comment 'You're not the stereotypical flamboyant gay guy - you're not flaming,'" Saldana said. With the repeal of DADT, however, gay soldiers are openly challenging those stereotypes.

"We weren't that new species anymore," said Harriel, 23, a medic with 86th Combat Support Hospital. "It allowed us to come out because we don't have purple dots on us. It's not obvious. So whenever you don't see something, it's easy to fear something you haven't seen."

Lt. Col. Brian DeSantis, a spokesman for the 101st Airborne spokesman and Fort Campbell, said harassment of gay soldiers is not taken lightly.

Comments made about this article - 0 Total

Comment on this article

Your comment has been submitted for approval
captcha accfa280ad4c42438a741768f52b2d8e
Top Classifieds
  • HAVANESE PUPS AKC Home Raised, Best H ... Details
  • Stereo System with 2 Speaker Boxes. 2 ... Details
  • PILLOW TOPmattress sets NEW in pl ... Details
  • Downsizing Due To HealthAntique furni ... Details
  • Lovely 4-bed,3.5-bath, 525 N. 8th, 2, ... Details
  • Corner Lot 1 acre $12,000 Kevil 27048 ... Details
  • SEEING is believing! Don't b ... Details
  • 2002 Camry LE 142Kmi, silver, $4200, ... Details

Most Popular
  1. STRAPPED Illinois college woes lesson for Kentucky
  2. Hiker found dead last year kept a journal
  3. National Spelling Bee down to top 10
  1. Lightning strikes Lower Town house
  2. City Hall could be named to historic register
  3. Woman arrested on drug charge
  1. STRAPPED Illinois college woes lesson for Kentucky
  2. Hiker found dead last year kept a journal
  3. National Spelling Bee down to top 10
Discussion

Check out these recently discussed stories and voice your opinion...