Midshipmen describe academy life with the end of Don't Ask, Don' Tell
Last September, for the first time in 17 years, LGBT troops no longer had to worry about being kicked out of the military because of sexuality. With the repeal of the policy ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ coming out as gay no longer derailed a military career.
This month, as US military academies graduate midshipmen and cadets, future officers note not much has changed with open service.
The Baltimore-Sun interviewed a number of midshipmen from the Naval Academy. A few traditions no longer exist. A yearly off-campus dinner that was secretly organized for gay midshipmen was attended, for the first time this year, by faculty and students. Work is underway to have a gay student club recognized by the Academy. Finally, at least one same sex couple will attend the Ring Dance. Held every spring, it’s a formal event for third year midshipmen.
‘It’s been really great, actually,’ third year midshipman Nick Bonsall said to the newspaper about repeal. ‘Everyone has been really accepting of us.’
Bonsall will be going to the Ring Dance with fellow midshipman, boyfriend Andrew Atwill.
According to the Defense Department, DADT’s demise is causing no significant change in other parts of the military.
‘It’s not impacting on morale. It’s not impacting on unit cohesion. It is not impacting on readiness,’ Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in an early May press conference. ‘Very frankly, my view is that the military has kind of moved beyond it. It’s become part and parcel of what they’ve accepted within the military.’