James Wharton speaks to Gay Star News about how the armed forces have changed for the better in ten years
Gay British soldier James Wharton is releasing a book about his ten years in the UK military.
He will be talking about the highs, serving at the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton, and the lows, being viciously beaten in a homophobic attack.
Speaking to Gay Star News, Wharton said he wanted to leave a testimony to his decade in the military, and examine the changes in gay equality.
‘I can see a journey,’ he said. ‘I can see from when I joined, the difficulties and the struggle, and then over the course of the decade how it comes full circle. I’ve got very happy memories, and it’s not going to be easy when I finish.’
An Iraq veteran, Wharton joined at the age of 16 shortly after the armed services stopped discharging gay men and women. He came out two years later.
He said: ‘When I was 18, and I made the decision on whether or not to come out or not, all I was thinking about was my own well-being.
‘I didn’t understand it would create waves, and I didn’t think it would change the environment. But as the years have gone by it has naturally happened, and it’s happened by accident.
‘I didn’t intend to cause these waves, but I know I have. To look back at the end, I’m pleased with how it’s gone. You can actually see the difference between when I joined and when I left, and that’s the most important thing to me.’
Wharton, while completing his decade in the military, is working with Stonewall’s Education for All campaign which introduces schoolchildren to real life role models.
Out in the Army, My Life as a Gay Soldier will be published in June 2013.