On Marines, equality, and my date to the Marine Corps Birthday Ball (Part 4)

Continued from Part 3

We got a cab to the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego and walked to the entrance. Standing there and looking around to see Marines throughout the lobby, we both thought, “What the hell are we doing here?” We looked at each other, took a deep breath, and stepped inside. We were careful from the very beginning not to be too close to each other. At one point, while the one of us who passed land navigation as a lieutenant in Quantico, VA managed to get lost on the way to the bathroom, our hands bumped and we quickly pulled them back. We made our way to the bar because the glass of wine and cocktail we had while getting ready weren’t taking the edge off as effectively as we’d hoped. A Marine I knew from work walked up and introduced his wife.

I had gone over the next moment a million times in my mind. Was Brandon my “friend”? My “boyfriend”? My “date”? How should I represent our relationship in the most respectful way to people who might not be happy we were there together? I knew there were people who didn’t yet know I am gay (not because I had avoided telling them, but because it hadn’t come up yet in day-to-day conversation), so how would I introduce Brandon in a way that made it clear but still allowed them to avoid being caught off-guard? What about the people who suspected I was gay but that I’d never confirmed it to? How do you tell people something they already know without feeling like an idiot when they look back at you and say, “No kidding. Who didn’t know?” (Trust me, it happened plenty of times before when I had stressed about “coming out” to people who had known far sooner than I did.) I thought briefly about whether any straight Marine had ever asked himself those questions, or even considered whether it would be appropriate to take a date.

I took a sip of my drink and a nervous breath, put my hand in the small of his back and said, “Happy birthday, Corporal. This is Brandon.” Whew. One down, two thousand to go–the entire Depot was here and we were just getting started.

We made our way to the ballroom and introducing Brandon became easier as we went. As I spotted people I knew, particularly senior officers and commanders who I knew supported me, knew I was gay, and knew I had brought a date (I had planted the seed with my Commanding Officer and Executive Officer so they wouldn’t be caught off guard), I introduced Brandon and they were all as nice as could be. My Regimental Commander, a colonel, asked him if it was his first Marine Birthday Ball, I think realizing as soon as the words left his mouth how silly the question must have sounded. The memorable part of that moment, however, wasn’t the potential embarrassment of asking the gay date of the gay Marine if he’d been to such an event before, but that he asked the same exact question he would have asked any Marine’s date. I wasn’t pretending to fit in any more, trying to disguise the unique part of me that I couldn’t tell anyone about, I was just another Marine celebrating the birthday, and Brandon was just another date. Never before in my life had it felt so good to be no one special.

The rest of the ceremony went just like that. I introduced Brandon to everyone I knew that night, and as we got progressively more comfortable with the routine (and the drinks finally began to kick in), I started greeting Marines who I wasn’t as sure would be as comfortable or supportive. I was surprised by their warmth, and Brandon got some time to talk with other dates who were making fun of their Marines for all our pomp, circumstance, and strange (but very typically Marine) behavior. At one point in the evening, one of the women who works on the Commanding General’s staff approached us specifically to tell us how glad she was that we could be there together.

At the end of the ceremony we decided we would leave the ball before things got too crazy, and we weren’t sure we wanted to press our luck with dancing together. Besides, the officer in me is always inclined to leave events like that early–I don’t want to get drunk in front of the Marines, and I don’t want them to feel like they can’t be comfortable because their boss is hanging around. We began gathering our things and saying good-byes, and the usual question arose: “Where are you going now?” At every event I’d been to before–balls, ceremonies, receptions, family fun days–I had either made up a prior engagement or just claimed to be tired. For the first time, I didn’t have to lie. We were going to Bourbon Street, a gay bar in North Park, because we wanted to escape the chaos that was about to envelop the Gaslamp District of San Diego, and because after the pressure of being the only gay couple in a room of 1200 Marines and their dates we wanted to have a few more drinks and blow off some steam.

To our amazement, two of my fellow captains said they wanted to go with us. “You know it’s a gay bar right? With gay people?” They knew, and they also wanted to get out of the immediate area and the sea of Marines that were about to make the San Diego Police Department earn their night’s pay. We went downstairs to the front of the hotel and spied the long line for cabs and valets. Brandon walked up to the bell stand and asked one of the bellmen if the hotel had a courtesy vehicle. He said there was a Denali and he would see if he could drive us. When he pulled the truck around and the five of us (one officer and his wife, another officer, Brandon, and me) piled in, he asked where we were going. I told him we were going to Bourbon Street in North Park and asked if he knew where it was. When he smiled and said yes, I realized there had been no coincidence in how Brandon had chosen him to ask for the ride–not even military-grade top secret intelligence systems are as reliable or accurate as gaydar.

Bourbon Street was a blast. The staff, at first nervous when three Marines in dress uniforms with chests full of medals got out of a big black truck and walked confidently into the bar, were very accommodating. Everyone in the bar was looking at us and wondering what the hell we were doing there–I wondered, too. But when people started to see Brandon and me together, they knew, and everyone appeared somewhat in awe of what was happening. We continued our celebration there all night, more Marines and other San Diego-based service members stopping by to wish us a happy birthday, buying us drinks and having a great time.

I was overwhelmed by the whole occasion, and happily surprised at how well everything had gone and how supportive everyone had been. There was one particular moment, however, that struck me and I’ll never forget it. Brandon and I were standing in the middle of the room, him handsomely as ever in his suit after his first Marine Corps event, me in my dress blues on my 236th birthday, surrounded by an amazing group of gay and straight civilians and Marines, and I looked at him. We had survived a night I thought would never come, and with it behind us there would be many more: maybe for us, but definitely for all those who will come after we have been long forgotten. I thought to myself as I looked in his eyes that we’d done it, and I kissed him.

Author: Matthew

I'm a Marine officer studying Material Logistics Support Management at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. I like to talk and write about all kinds of things: politics, religion, atheism, cars, motorcycles, sailing, books, movies, and anything else that strikes my fancy. The views expressed here are my own, and are in no way intended to represent the United States Marine Corps, Department of Defense or any of its components.

325 thoughts on “On Marines, equality, and my date to the Marine Corps Birthday Ball (Part 4)”

    1. Thank you so much Mathew for your story that I found really moving. Particularly I really identified with you when you said that all the basic everyday actions, thoughts, things that you would naturally share with colleagues you just could not do before DADT was repelled. What people do not seem to realise quite often – which frustrates and anger me at times – is that we are actually talking of very “basic” human rights here. My civil partner and I are both Italian and live in London (UK) where we got married 3 1/2 years ago. When we go back to Italy, our country of birth where we lived most of our lives, we become single men again. We have no civil rights there as a couple. Though we do in the UK.
      I am also so glad you and Brandon had such a ball that night!
      With Very Best Wishes,
      Gian – London UK

  1. Thank you for sharing your story! What an amazing journey. To all service-members that struggled with DADT, and now struggle with learning how NOT to hide. Bless you and yours.

  2. That was amazing! I was truly moved while reading your beautiful story of that cathartic evening. I applaud your courage and finally your right to be there and present as your whole true self. It was so well written that I feel as if I attended along with you. More people should read this and then they would realize how important the repeal of DADT was. Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. What an awesome story. I am a veteran myself (13 years in the Navy, IC1(SW)) and wholly supported the repeal of DADT. In my decade+ of service I had the pleasure of serving with many gay and lesbian service members and it is about time that we honor their sacrifices by letting them be themselves. Your service is ust as honorable as anyone elses and anyone who does not like it can go keep it to themselves. BZ Captain! You are a proud example of a true Marine.

  4. How wonderful that this is now a “happy ending”. DADT was so wrong from the beginning. We can be such cruel people and hurt those that do not deserve it, when we feel we are RIGHT.
    So glad you can be you and openly have all the same problems “straights” have in dating and love! LOL.
    God bless and keep you and yours.
    R/pe

  5. Wow! Such a fantastic story! I am so happy for both you and Brandon and for every other Marine that can finally be who they are without hiding. I know I enjoyed the ball in Las Vegas this year with my boyfriend, and it warms my heart to know that other couples, regardless of orientation, were able to do the same. Thank you so much for being such a strong voice in the fight for this repeal and the ongoing battle for equality and acceptance, and for sharing your story with us! ❤

  6. My first comment ever. I’ve never felt the need to post one online before. Speaks to how much I appreciate you sharing your story. Congrats, all the best and thank you.

  7. WOW…..I shouldn’t be surprised at the courage of a Marine, but that sure took balls!!!
    Thank you for your service to our country and thank you for standing up for our rights.
    and yeah, I cried a little at the end…..very touching!

  8. As a fellow Marine who served way back in the 90’s I gotta say, I never thought I would have the opportunity to read a post like this. I have long thought gay’s should be able to serve openly. Reading your post really touched my heart, not only because of your pride but also in the responsibility you know you now have – a responsibility I know you didn’t ask for but one you are glad carry. You and all like you are now, willing or not, the ambassadors of a generation. As you mentioned, there are people who are and will continue to watch everything ‘you’ do and they will leap upon any mishap but it is leader like yourself that will slowly and inevitably shape the thinking of thousands.

    I was only an enlisted E3 but I’d just like to say I am proud of you, Sir. You are the guide as well as guidon now. Reading this makes me proud of you and proud of my Marine Corps. Semper Fi.

    1. Jason, I wanted to join the military. I come from a long line of military folk. One of my ancestors even fought alongside George Washington. I can’t tell you how heartbroken I was when I learned that I could not join, because my disabilities were considered too severe (I have systemic lupus and asthma). The most I was ever able to do was hold a temporary civilian position on the Naval base in my city (New Orleans).

      Do you have any idea how badly folks like me wish we could say that we were an E3, even for a few years? Coming from a military family, I know that even an E3 in the Marines could easily eat the lunch of your average Joe Tough Guy walking down the street. Sir, with all due respect, I hope that you can see things through my eyes and realize how much I admire your contribution to this country. It’s been years since I attempted to join, but every time I see a woman or man in uniform, I feel wistful about the life that I might have had, if God had saw fit to allow me to join.

      Thank you for your service, Marine!

  9. Excellent article. Best wishes and happiness to the both of you in your career and personal lives. And a special thanks to Rachael for sharing such an awesome inspiring story.

  10. What a wonderful story, I actually got a bit teary eyed. I’m so happy for you and the countless others who no longer have to hide who they are. My husband was Navy and is now Air Force (blue to blue!) and we both have always believed that DADT should be repealed. He’s served with people he knew were gay and was always hoping that they would soon be able to honestly join in all of the countless conversations about life at home.

    You and Brandon make a lovely couple! I hope you have many happy years together.

  11. Great story. Makes the larger point that we are all created equal. Joy, suffering, companionship, identity, acceptance, the sense of belonging, et al, is what makes us part of the human race, and there should not be any other qualifier to our humanity.

  12. This is a beautiful story. I know your struggles are not over but change is happening, it never happens over night. Hold onto this special feeling and remember it whenever you feel like things are going backwards. Love from Canada

  13. A great story that makes me a little bit happy.

    They made a handsome couple. Any parent would be proud to have either one as sons.

  14. This is an amazing, heartwarming story and very beautifully written. I am neither gay, nor a member of the armed forces, but I was thrilled when they repealed don’t ask, don’t tell. I hope there are many more that have good experiences like yours and that the world can learn that we’re all worthy of the same rights and treatment, no matter our sexual orientation, race, etc. I’m sure you are a wonderful role model in every way. Thank you for sharing your story, it was incredible to read from beginning to end. Congratulations on being freshly pressed – it was more than well-deserved.

  15. Thank you for this beautiful story that brought tears to my eyes. I can honestly say I used to be nervous around marines (and I come from a military town) but since the DADT repeal I have watched marines repeatedly be first to make inroads to the lgbt community. What amazing people you all have shown me you are. I am so appreciative of your service and your courage and wish you all the future happiness you deserve.

  16. What a wonderful story! I am so happy for you and thank you for serving your country with courage and dignity. Bless you both.

  17. I’m not surprised that things went okay, actually — the military can be peculiar that way. (Which you would know way better than me, but I’ve seen it even as someone on the outside.) They hem, they haw, they complain, they pontificate, they stand against something … until the order comes down, and then BAM, it’s part of their universe from then on. Ultimately, bigotry is a heavy burden, and a lot of people bear it only because they think they should. Even they are relieved when they’re told to put it down.

  18. Thank you for your unwavering service to a country that has just barely begun to treat you with the respect and consideration that you deserve. Thank you as well for sharing your story – it sounds like you both had an amazing evening, and I cannot begin to fathom the relief you must feel at no longer being forced to hide such an intrinsic part of yourself from the world. Cheers!

  19. What could I do after reading this but smile shed a few tears (okay, a lot of tears) of happiness. Congratulations, sir!

  20. Before I reported for BCT, I spent two years working in a gay bar. Whatever misconceptions and bigotries I still had were stripped away pretty quickly.

    I am so glad to hear this story and to know that the Marines are, as ever, lifting a brother onto their shoulders when he needed them the most.

    As I progress in my own career, I hope to have the opportunity to witness my soldiers behaving with such grace under pressure as you’ve displayed, CPT. Thank you.

  21. Wow, what a moving story. I have loads of g/l friends but none that I know in the military. I salute you for your amazing courage and honesty, and thank heavens the DADT is repealed. No-one should have to live what you lived through. And by the way, I’m a 63 yr old straight woman.

  22. I am so touched that you chose to share this story, and I am just thrilled that you CAN share it now that DADT has been repealed. You are incredibly brave for so many obvious reasons, and I can’t commend you enough for being so eloquently forthright. This is just lovely.

  23. Thanks for sharing. I hope all continues to the best every day in this career you have chosen. Hopefully we will continue to see change, and gain in equal rights for all.

  24. Thank you so much for your service. My eyes welled up in tears as I read through your amazing journey. Congrats to both you and Brandon. My husband and I just finished celebrating 25 years together. We wish you and Brandon good health and lasting happiness.

  25. Thank you for sharing your powerful story , I commend you for not just being a marine but a man of integrity and honor and applaud the tremendous sacrifice you have made for our country. I wish you well in your career and hope you find the love of your life.

  26. Amazing story. You are an absolutely great writer ! I couldn’t wait to read the next line, and to see how your experience played out. Luckily I’ve never had to hide who I was ..or who I loved. My partner and I of 15 years are like any other couple, and I couldn’t imagine being happy If I had to hide, or disguise any moment that I spend with her.

  27. Bravo. Thanks for sharing your story. Sorry I am that you had to experience all the prejudice here in “the land of the free and home of the brave”. But that is America for ya! Love and Blessings, Grandpa Michael Talksalot

  28. You are an amazing and courageous man! Thank you for your service to this country and for your service to the countless numbers of young men and women still struggling with their sexual identity. By being true to yourself, you have joined the ranks of those whose positive role-modeling will help to dispel the myth that consumes so many with confusion and fear. God bless you and Brandon!

  29. There’s a sadness that I feel when I read your story because I know my friend (who was gay) and who passed away not too long ago, struggled with even telling his parents he was gay — and not too long before he left us. I miss him terribly, and I’m saddened that has missed so much of all of his friends’ lives since. I admire your courage, and I am so appreciative that you shared it. It takes guts to let “strangers” into your life, especially when things have been painful. You should be very proud of yourself and your family should be very proud of you. And P.S. You both looked very sharp!

  30. Matthew: Thanks, more than I can say, actually, for your account of the Marine Ball and being able at last to be open about who you are and about people and things that are important in your life. I have always counted myself lucky to be living in Madison, WI, the first place in the country to outlaw discrimination in housing and employment on account of someone’s sexual preference, at city, county, and state levels. It will be great day, one hopes not too long from now, when discrimination will become illegal at the national level as well. The repeal of DADT was a huge step in that direction, of course, and each increment in the process, including yours, helps hasten the day.

    I will have to admit being in tears at the conclusion of reading your account. I haven’t had a particularly hard time on account of being gay, no hassles at work or in my social life. Nevertheless, some residue of the earliest uncertainties — I was 11 and fell in love with a spectacularly beautiful classmate — always remains, a kind of emotional residue, stored away in some inner fold of the brain. It seems vulnerable to being awakened by a story likes yours, and
    one is simply overwhelmed by out-rushing emotions. That was 65 years ago. Some details at http://www.jessanderson.org/doc/bf_01.html .

    I wish you all the best in everything you do.

  31. I have tremendous, tremendous, respect and admiration for you, Sir. Even as a straight civilian, DADT is a policy that I never understood, and I am very glad to see the end of it.

    I am so thankful that you are finally able to write, and then share, such a story. I wish you many more such nights.

  32. I think my initial response is really all that need be said: “Ooh-rah, sir!” Reading what you have to say here has made me proud for the first time, in a long time. Thank you for sharing and even more, thank you for honoring Corps Values as all Marines should.

  33. I love in Australia and stumbled across this story, it left tears in my eyes and an ache in my heart, truly a beautiful ending to a somewhat stressing experience. YOU are an inspiration to the gay community across the world. Truly amazing 🙂

  34. So very moving and inspirational. I was a military man 30 years ago and I never in my wildest dreams thought I would read a true story like this one in my lifetime. You almost made a crusty, jaded, old coot cry… almost. It’s too good for crying, so instead I’ll just smile and say “thank you.”
    …for sharing your story, for being an exemplary Marine and individual, and for standing up and being counted.

  35. WOW. Your story is truly inspiring. I’ve been with my boyfriend for 7 years now and I can’t imagine how hard it would have been if one (or both) of us were in the military. Thank you for sacrificing so much for our country. I hope you and Brandon have many happy years and many more Marine Corp Balls to go to!

    You’re a great writer, man! You should think about writing a book.

  36. Awesome. Congratulations, sir, for not only your service and honesty, but for the engaging way you wrote this. I really felt I was there.

    I served as an Airborne Ranger back in the 1980s. I was discharged for “suspected homosexuality” because a comic book store I frequented was next to a gay bar. Yes, the witch hunts were that crazy. Nice to see how far we’ve come.

    Semper Fi!

  37. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience! I am a gay graduate student and although we do not have the DADT policy in graduate school, people would still feel uncomfortable showing their “true” self in a scientific setting. I guess that many of us feel that we need to be professional and serious in that we lose many of the aspects in life. I am glad to see that you enjoyed your evening with Brandon, and that your peers also joined you on a little trip! Although us gays can feel secluded from time to time, we have to remind ourselves that there are people out there who are opened to welcoming to us too, and that we are not alone in a journey! I love the ending to your entry too 🙂

    I pray and hope that there are many more beautiful moments to come in your life! Thanks again!

  38. i’m so very proud of you!! i’m an avid supporter of LGBT, and was so very happy when DADT was repealed… i’m so glad you finally got your day in the sun, and hope you have many more! thank you for your years of service, keeping my freedoms safe (as controversial as i find them at times!)!!

  39. Thank you for the story… I am a sergeant in the Army who is struggling to come out. Everyone respects me, not because of my rank but as a person, for some reason though, I could not find the strength to come out to my comrades-at least not just yet-. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that just because DADT has been repealed that does not mean I have to come out to everyone. I still believe that my personal life is my personal life. I do applaud everyone that is happily out to people. Bringing a date to a military ball is, one of my dreams. I am hoping that it will be sooner than later.

    1. Don’t rush it. You will make the move when you feel the time is right. Just know that your fellow brothers and sisters at arms, both veteran and active, and Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Marines will have your back.

  40. This is so awesome, I find myself uncharacteristically at a loss for words. Speaking of words, you know how to write them well. This 3-part post was magnificent. You should consider becoming a writer after you retire from the Marines.

    Incidentally, I note that Com. Amos told the Associated Press this week that the total number of adverse incidents resulting from the repeal of DADT is – for the entire Marine Corps – precisely zero. As I recall, the chiefs, even the pro-repeal chiefs, had conceded that there would be some short-term disruption, which would then die down. To have zero incidents in the first 2 1/2 months in the most resistant branch is evidence of the professionalism and decency of the Marines.

  41. What a beautiful and awesome post. So happy that you can finally feel normal amongst your peers. Best of luck and all the love in the world to you and Brandon.

  42. Thank you so much for writing this. I’m so glad that this law was repealed and Obama just didn’t write an executive order. That way this horrible policy will never again become law.

  43. I wanted to thank you for sharing this story, for taking a stand, and for your beautiful honesty. As a gay civilian, I was thrilled that DADT was thrown out — allowing you and so many others to embrace one of the core values of each military branch: honesty. As a social worker in a high school who works with gay students, I am proud of your efforts, your work, and your commitment to your country and your identity. I’m not sure what phrase is stronger than role model, but that’s what you are. Be well.

  44. Thank you so much for telling us all so plainly in how many painful ways it is so unbearable to live under a regime like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. When it was finally repealed, I watched the video Obama released and felt confused by all the exhilaration and praise it received. Wasn’t it about time?! How could people gush about how great this was when all I could think was ‘How, in 2011, can this law still even exist to repeal?’

    Of course, good news is good news and who are we to complain? I haven’t had much personal reason to follow the news on DADT, being neither a lesbian nor an American citizen nor someone with any interest in joining the military. Consequently, my opinion on the matter was limited to: ‘That must suck to have to hide who you are’. But in reading your open and thorough explanation of how painful it is – it must have ripped you apart to deny your relationship in front of a co-worker – I realise that it is simply impossible to comprehend how much of a sacrifice Marines like you were making when you choose to risk your life defending a country who wouldn’t even let you if it only knew you were gay.

    It fills me with joy to see how successful your night ended up being, and I hope from the bottom of my heart that you continue to handle each new challenge with as much dignity as you handled the birthday ball.

    Warmest wishes and many thanks,
    Megan.

  45. Fantastic blog post!

    I’m a 42 year old gay man, I’ve never been in the service, but my father was a Marine back during the Vietnam era.

    I came out at 27 and have always been out at work since then. I’ve often wondered what our servicemen/women must be feeling and going through, having to keep this part of themselves hidden.

    Thank you for giving us this glimpse inside, and I’m so happy that you, and other brave Americans who have decided to fight for us, no longer have to hide.

    Wishing you all the best!

  46. This is a great story and very moving. I’m so proud of you, and of your fellow Marines, who have shown that what makes a Marine has nothing to do with sexuality.

    I wish my wife and I had been at Bourbon St (love that bar) that night to buy you and your fellow Marines a drink to celebrate not only the Corps’ birthday, but the wonderful event of being true to yourselves. Thank you for your service. I am so thankful you can serve openly.

    Now let’s repeal DOMA so LGB service members’ families, and your eventual husband, can be treated equally and honorably!

  47. What an incredibly inspiring, honest, and beautiful story. I have tears in my eyes! Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of yourself and your life with us. I’m filled with joy at the idea that your journey can continue from here without hiding and without shame. Congratulations on playing such a strong role in the repeal of DADT, and THANK YOU for your service to our country. God bless!

  48. Like so many of the others, I thank you for this amazing and beautifully written post. My family has had many generations serve in every branch of Military Service, with the most recent Marine my cousin who actually made sniper.
    I am so happy for you – and for Brandon – that this long-cherished tradition/celebration turned out so incredibly well, and hope with all my heart that you and all our LGBT service-members find your time in the post-DADT military one of honor, pride and fulfillment. It gives old activist war horses like me a sense of some small achievement to know that the generations that follow will not have to bear the burden you wrote so eloquently of. I can only imagine the tumult of things that run through your heart and mind. I’m just grateful that I lived to see this day.
    I remember too well the political climate and the rabid frothing-at-the-mouth of the “conservatives” prior to the enactment of DADT. I remember being laughed at and shouted down when I called my Senator to protest (Exon, Republican – what else?- Nebraska), and I delighted in the sense of victory over that bastard this September. But I also realize that you’re right – the new hard part is just beginning, as every bigot with access to the Internet or a microphone will be scrutinizing every member of our Services for the slightest excuse to say “we told you so.”
    May you serve long and proud, Marine. You are a credit and a blessing to your country, and your Corps.

  49. Thank you for sharing your story and for all the sacrifices you made in order to serve our country. I’m definitely linking to your blog so that more people can understand exactly how taxing it was to live with DADT and what a tremendous step forward we have taken in repealing the act. I wish you and Brandon the best. Y’all truly deserve it.

  50. All I can say is to repeat what has already been said 🙂 Hold on to that strength and courage, and be more american than most of the people I see on a daily basis. True freedom was what the founding fathers were after and that was freedom for EVERYONE, a freedom you and your fellows fight for. Thank you for your story, your joy and your service. I’m so glad to see DADT gone and thank you for being such a big part of it. I hope to hear more of your story soon! Until then, take care and to you and yours, a wonderful holiday.

  51. First of all, thank you for your service to our country.

    Next, this was such an inspiring, honest, and beautiful series of blog posts. You have me in tears. Thanks so much for sharing this important occasion in your life. Your strength in everything astounds me. And I’m so happy you had this ending (beginning).

  52. The first thing I want to say is THANK YOU for your service to our country.

    I would also like to say that I am so sorry that you were not able to experience this event long before this with Brandon (or whoever else you would have chosen). This is an amazing story and I am so glad that you are finally able to express yourself, in public.

    Thank you for sharing your story and thank you again for your service and sacrifice, and the sacrifice of your family and those you love who support you in your service.

  53. The Marine Corps birthday is the day before my mother’s, so whenever I call to wish her a happy birthday, I always end up wishing my dad a happy belated birthday.

    Any relationship with a Marine is difficult, but ultimately it’s without equal. As a general rule, they are loyal, principled, and courageous in their way, my father being no exception. He was a career Marine and retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1992. Even before I came out to him, he did his best to let me know, in his way, that he was okay with it.

    I think I’ll send him a link to your story. He told me on more than one occasion (before he knew about me, or at least before it was out in the open) that he thought it was a ridiculous issue because gay men and women, he knew, were already serving with distinction. I’m glad you can serve openly now. I have no doubt he is as well.

    I have a feeling you would do him proud, Captain. Happy belated birthday!

  54. God, what an awesome story! Thank you so much for sharing it. I have the sappiest damn smile of joy and gratitude on my face right now. Wish I could’ve been there to buy you a drink as well.

  55. Fantastic story man! Thanks for sharing it. This gives so much hope to so many people, even those of us who aren’t in the military. All the best to you guys!

  56. Thank you so much for sharing your story and enduring that hardship of keeping your identity a secret for all those years. I am so appreciative of your service to this country–you are the prime example of a selfless leader. I’m glad you and Brandon were able to enjoy your first Birthday Ball together. I went to my first one this year also (my boyfriend is a 2nd Lieutenant at Twentynine Palms) and it was a great experience. I wish you all the happiness in the world and continued strength in the trials that may come. Now… onto marriage equality! 😀

    Happy belated birthday!

  57. Yay! You brought tears to my eyes; I was so glad that DADT had been repealed, but I am even happier to read what positive changes the repeal has had for you. Certainly it’s still complicated (and you, of course, know better than I) but I am glad that you must no longer labor under the burden of forced secrecy. May the sun continue to shine down on you!

  58. You are such a brave beautiful man. I stand & applaud u.. it was my dream to be a Marine… I wish u all the love in the world. U break the shame & stomp out the guilt put on me. Thank u for sharing Love u Man. Jenna

  59. First, sorry for my bad english… school was years ago…
    It sounds like a fairy tale, but I know how difficult it is for you.
    You can take very pride in that and you look so happy on the photo.
    Thank you for sharing and all the best for you and your beloved.

  60. Thank you so much for sharing this extremely wonderful and inspiring story. And thank you so much for your service and sacrifice. I wish only the best for you and yours. God bless!

  61. Matthew, here is to your beautiful real name, your courage, your integrity, and your excellent writing. Thank you for serving our country in so many ways.

  62. At first I thought, “Why are there so many parts to this, get on with it!” but I’m really glad you took the time to explain this properly to those of us with no clue about DADT.

    You rock, dude. Thank you.

  63. A beautifully written, very moving and almost painfully honest story. I’m a Brit journalist, former Army, who’s written on both women and gays in the military – as well as on the Royal Marines Commandos since I was once trained by and served with them. You may know that the Brit armed forces dropped their own version of DADT several years ago. The basic, working rule is no relationships (straight or gay) between senior and junior ranks especially in the same unit. In other words, common sense and humanity have prevailed. The sky hasn’t fallen down. Recruitment hasn’t been affected. And the Armed Forces now properly reflect the society they serve. You should try and do a tour over here. . . I’d always expect integrity from a Marine, but I suspect yours is pretty special.

  64. Thank you so much for sharing your story! 🙂 I’m glad the even is something you’ll never forget; however, how do you really feel about the fact that as a gay man you have to wonder who and who will not be comfortable with your existence? The second paragraph began to address this but I’d like to hear more please.

    Best,
    Alex

  65. This was a great story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I’m neither an American nor part of the military but my father was. I guess where I’m from (the Philippines), we’re more tolerant of homosexuals so there really was no need for them to hide who they were. I hope everything works out well for you and Brandon. Good luck and best wishes for your future!

  66. Great story. I think we forget that DADT had a major impact to those that just wanted to do the simplest of things – like bring a date to a dance.

  67. AWESOME! Thanks for a life well-lived and a story well-told. I missed my first Birthday Ball, and then my fiance–a figher pilot in the 3rd MAW–crashed and burned. He would have been proud of you, too.

  68. First and foremost, CONGRATULATIONS! Secondly, thank you so much for your service, your dedication, and your work on behalf of this country. I know it’s not a perfect place, and I know sometimes this country does some downright embarrassing or even awful things. But for the most part, it’s a pretty great place and that’s thanks to men and women just like YOU.

  69. What an AMAZING story!! You had me tearing up a lot! I’m a lesbian mom of a Marine- he’s probably in the minority on that one in the marines. Thank you for being so brave – thank you for keeping your composure for so many years as well. I know it was difficult, but by doing so you have had the ability to endure DADT to the end and be a stellar example with an unbelievable story to share and inspire others.

  70. Seriously, you are beyond awesome! I read all four parts in a row, the way you write makes it almost real for yor readers and it’s just (well, for lack of better words) generous how you share your pov. Thank you for sharing such wonderful events.

  71. On a job interview my soon-to-be boss mentioned her partner Gay in the conversation to test my reaction. My response made her crack up with delight: I told her I had broken barriers in my family also…marrying a non-Jew. That staying patient and tolerant while my family went through their adjustment to not only accept him but love him was hard, but worth it. Discrimination comes in all shapes and sizes…all types out there. The only way to break down walls in a firm belief in yourself and patient tolerance..and yes, it is very stressful! I am happy that the military finally is able to face reality. Thanks for sharing your story.

  72. Matthew:

    Thank you for sharing your story. But thanks mostly for your dedicated service to our country.
    As I read your account of attending the Marine Ball I couldn’t help but think, “Did you ever think you would see the day?”
    As a pre-DADT Navy officer and Vietnam vet, my answer to that question is definitely, No. I didn’t think I would ever live to see the day.
    But as I think about all that has transpired I can’t help but wonder whether gay service people such as me – closeted though we were – helped in some small way to make what has happened possible. I wonder if just maybe one of my department heads or XOs looked at this wet-behind-the-ears, insecure and up-tight ensign and thought, “Maybe Mike’s gay. But if he does his job and keeps his nose clean, what of it?” If such a thought crossed my superiors’ minds, then they learned a valuable lesson in leadership.
    Even with the burden of trying to pretend to be someone I wasn’t, I still look back on my years in the Navy with pride. I felt honored to serve and I still feel that way. My Dress Blues are still hanging in the closet although I “outgrew” them years ago.
    I’m glad for you that you have this “monkey” off your back. You and other gay Marines can now totally live up to the Corps’ motto. After all, how can one be truly faithful if one is not first honest?
    So happy belated birthday. Continued success in your service. Stay safe, and best to you and Brandon.
    Let me end this with a Black Shoe wisecrack: You Jarheads better never forget which branch of the service gets you where you need to go.
    Mike Mortensen
    Gilford NH

  73. I retired as a 5517 several years ago, but am very glad to see the repeal is working out so well. I admit I never fully understood the true ugliness of the DADT policy until I became a SNCOIC, where I needed to deal with the immaturity and ignorance of some that negatively affected others. No telling how much damage was done in those 18 years. Glad the repeal has become a “non event” as one general put it recently. Oo-rah, Captain. Well said.

  74. Okay, this may have been the most adorable thing I have ever read. I’m so glad that you got Freshly Pressed, or I would never have found it! I’m so glad that you were able to round your story out with a ‘happy ending,’ even though I hope this isn’t an ending at all for you, your boyfriend, and your Marine friends. Also, you are a brilliant writer! You tell your story very well and are remarkably thorough. Thank you for posting!

  75. Thank you for sharing such an awesome story. I’m glad DADT has been repealed, the day when everyone wasn’t sure would come. If only things would be the same with the Immigration reformation and specifically DreamACT. It’s another uphill battle.

  76. Dear Mathew , thank you very much for sharing this with everybody.
    I believe people like you face the facts and actually make huge changes. Is it sad to see that there are still so many barriers for GLBT comunity , but thankfully there are some of us trying to make little changes.
    Thanx again, would be great to know what changes you have accomplished with this brave thing.

  77. Matthew,
    First off, thank you for your dedicated service to our country.
    Second, thank you for your selfless leadership of your Marines, who undoubtedly already hold you in the highest regard, but once this story circulates, may finally be able to understand just how hard it has been for you to provide them with such a high level of leadership. With so many problems in the world today, it is just so refreshing and inspiring to read a story like this (incredibly well-written, too!) that speaks to the best in humans—putting the interests of others before self-interest; trust in even a resistant organization’s ability to change, but fighting diligently for that change; being willing to be a pioneer and “force the issue,” not knowing other people’s reactions but demanding their respect regardless of their opinions; but for me most important of all, conquering, once and for all, that inevitable self-doubt of “am I o.k.?” and proudly celebrating who you are and what and whom you represent.
    As just an ordinary gay civilian, I cannot begin to imagine all the stresses you have had to endure in your military career. But the hardest thing I ever did in my life was to come out to my Marine WWII-vet (ultra-conservative, rancher, banker Texas) father. And, you know, his reaction was amazingly respectful and it completely changed our relationship in the years before he passed away. I know he would be just as proud of and grateful to you as I am. Sharing your thoughts, feelings, and actions in this way calls to all of us to be better GLBTs, better Americans, and better people in general. Thanks so much!

  78. As a queer social work student who interned at a veterans hospital a year ago, I would like to thank you so much for openly sharing your story! It is awful when people must live in silence and shame of their true identities in order to protect themselves and others. Again, thank you for such honesty!

  79. The Marines have no idea how much of a hero you truly are. I cannot thank you enough for sharing, and educating. Namaste.

  80. I have no words, I am overwhelmed by your story. I am so glad I clicked on the link and I wish you all the happiness you deserve and I hope this country can keep moving forward to show you the respect you deserve.

  81. Your beautifully written story reminds us that there is more than one kind of courage. Both you and Brandon clearly have it in bucket-loads. Wishing you well.

  82. Amazing inspiring story. You express yourself so well!
    I have been lucky to be out, even at work, since the mid 1990s, and in a notoriously homophobic industry. I have maintained my sexual orientation has nothing to do with my performance at work, and that sexual orientation should be a non-issue in the workplace (there’s no sex, so why should sexual orientation matter?).

    Thank you so much for helping bring our military along on this journey, and paving the way for so many other soldiers who happen to be gay!

  83. Thank you so much for sharing this story with the world and all the sacrifices you made for our country.

    I also want you to know that many people were with you every step of the way, working our asses off to repeal DADT. Over the years, my family, friends and me sent or made literally hundreds of email, letters, tweets or phone calls about DADT. My dad was a Marine and he instilled in us a deep sense to stand up for justice and keep working at it. During the final debate in the U.S. Senate, my mom started calling the wavering Republican senators and graciously insisting on speaking with their legislative directors about the repeal bill.

    So hearing your story about going to the Marines ball brought tears to my eyes. It made proud to be an American, too. And so do you.

    With a deep bow, Joe in San Francisco

  84. This is such an awsume, well told story. I’m so proud of you, and I dont even know you. Good luck in your future. Stay safe, healthy, happy and free.

  85. Amazing. Simply amazing. I live in San Diego. Would love to meet you some day and have a drink with. You have a way with words. You are a talented writer. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Go well. Stay well.
    -Holly

  86. This is a lovely story. Thank you so much for sharing it, and thank you so much for your service. I’m from a service family myself and I know how hard the sacrifices are that heterosexual couples have to make, serving in the military; I look forward to the day when no more will be asked of you and your partner than is asked of my brother and his wife.

  87. Your story touched me deeply. It was so raw and honest. It was a learning experience to hear the “inside story,” especially what was denied to you by DADT. It is horrifying to me that our servicemen (and theoretically women) could not report assaults because of fearing reprisals through DADT. I’m so very glad that you and thousands of other like you have the freedom to be who they are and to be supported by family equally. Congratulations.

  88. I still have a lump in my throat from reading your this. Thank you for sharing your life and your story with us. Our military should never have had to serve under DADT. I am thankful for your service and I am so proud of you.

  89. Thanks for sharing your experience! Last week was my 15 year mark in the Navy and I have yet to attend a Navy Day Ball, Holiday Ball, or Cryptologic Ball. I’ve never had anyone to go with and no way I couldn’t have brought a guy date.

    I haven’t come out at work yet. Some of my coworkers may have suspicions. One of my subordinates from my previous command followed me to my present duty station that could add credibility to any rumors. I am incredibly grateful my career is no longer on the line. I’m equally thankful for my church family in which there are many gay former and retired military and a few active duty personnel.

  90. This is one of the most beautiful (and well-written) accounts I’ve read in a long time. Thank you for all you do- for the world, for our country, for your Marines, for the gay community, for all of us as human beings. (And your boy is very cute- not to mention he can stand up to the stress of the Marine Birthday Ball?!? What a catch!)

    With much love,
    A lesbian Jewish mother

  91. Thank you so much for sharing. I was commissioned and served during the first gulf war. Being a naval officer was my first best destiny, but DADT put an end to it. However, I wouldn’t give up the last 17 years with my husband for anything. Good luck Captain! Semper Fi and happy birthday, Marine.

  92. You’ve written your journey so beautifully, from the heartache to the swell of elation and the relief at no longer having to hide who you are or who you love. You are a beacon of hope to so many-if the Marine Corps can be so welcoming, maybe there’s hope for society as a whole.

    Thank you for all you do for all of us. Thank you for your service.

  93. thank you for sharing this. it gives a specila prospective on the hardships you endured. Thank you for protecting us all.

    Seems to little to say: Thank you. I wanted you to know people are grateful to you and for your humanity. My daughters will know of your heroism.

  94. I was in the Army and had the honor and privilege of serving with a fellow Cavalry Soldier who admitted to me one night that he was “Gay”. I am Wiccan so being gay to me is like being tall or short its just how you are. I used to be amazed at the deceptions and misdirection. The amount of trouble he had to go through to keep from being found out and discharged. I am in an interesting position to know what a witch hunt feels like. I am glad beyond word that you know have a chance at your happy ever after. Now we just need make same sex marriage legal. Its accepted in my faith, I sometimes wonder if anyone has tried the freedom of religion angle. If my Religion allows same sex marriage seems to me that the ban violates my right to perform the marriage in accordance with my faith…

  95. Your beautifully-written account of your courage, service and grace moved me more than I can say. It brought a tear to my eye but it also made me as happy as you and Brandon look in that photo. Thank you.

  96. Captain – what a beautiful testimonial to progress and history in the making. You make us all proud. Kudos for Brandon’s radar. Adorable.

  97. I am gay and served 32 years in the military, retired as an Air Force Chief. I know what you are saying and know how difficult it was and to some extent still is. I know the future will be better. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  98. So glad you were able to enjoy the ball together! My husband is a Major in the Marine Corps, and we are both relieved that DADT was repealed. I wish you the best and maybe we will run into you one of these days!

  99. What a great post and an even greater story. It’s nice to see that people are beginning to be open about what they were hiding for so long, not by choice of course. What an even greater thing than to hear how great of a night you had, and how it ended in the perfect way – a kiss, in public, for everyone to see!

    Well done!

    – Jake

  100. Thank you for sharing this incredible night! From your story, you have been an example to all in the military, gay and straight; I’m sure you’ll be an even better one now that DADT is repealed. Best wishes to you and yours. btw, congrats for being Freshly Pressed 🙂

  101. I wish I had something thoroughly deep and meaningful to say, but I’d just be repeating what many have already said. So, I’ll just say…thank you for telling your story.

  102. I’ve never read anyone’s blog before, but I was captivated from the very first paragraph. I’m so happy for you and Brandon, and I wish you nothing but love and happiness in your future. Thanks for sharing with us.

  103. I have the most pleasant smile on my face right now! And from a former Doc, it’s good to know all my babies (which is what I refer to my Marines as) can bring their loves, no matter who, to the Ball now! So super stoked for you and your boo!

  104. Mattew,

    Semper Fi Marine!!! Coming OUT is the best thing in the world believe me I know…My wife and I went to PI together in 1986. 15 1/2 years later we got together… I had just figured out I was a lesbian I was 35 That was 9 Years ago. Congratulations!

  105. Sir,

    I am a Marine. A married, straight, Marine. I must confess that I was nervous about the DADT repeal. Ticked, even, when they announced it. Reading your blog, I saw something different than what I feared. I must applaud you for your efforts and for your professionalism.

    Your introduction of your date as simply, “This is Brandon,” was very simple and professional. Had I been there and suspected you were gay, it would not have confirmed my belief. Had I assumed he was a friend, it wouldn’t have proven me right or wrong. I think in the future, I shall introduce my date (my wife) with, “This is Melissa.”

    I have seen other instances of gays blatantly throwing it out there, almost as if with a vengeance. Of course I have seen straight act in similar fashion. My hope is that both straight and gay Marines can take your example and apply it to their circumstances.

    Bravo for your truly professional conduct!

    Semper Fidelis

  106. Thank you.

    As a bisexual woman married to a bisexual Airman, I got to watch the DAT repeal unfold. While I have always know who I am, this is a new discovery for my husband and it has been painful for him to realize that so much of the isolation and pain he has felt most of his life, and his career, were because of his struggle with himself. As a openly queer woman, I was better prepared for the repeal and the reactions of his fellow Airmen then he was. But it is the people who step forward with pride, who by example prove the bigoted fears of our society as unfounded, that create change. That you for your service, and your courage to fight for what you believe in, in all ways.

    Kate

  107. Thank you. And I’m glad you could celebrate your Marine Ball with those who love and support you. Thank you for serving our country: even when it was a true personal sacrafice.

  108. Beautiful blog entry. As a gay woman who has never had to hide who I am, I just can’t imagine how it must have been for you. I am so happy that you and countless others can finally be themselves.

  109. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for your service, your love of our country is evident by all you endured to serve and protect us. I know I’m just one faceless person out there, I can’t take away the pain, suffering and discrimination you have felt and experienced but I can say I’m sorry. I can promise you, there are people who don’t give a shit about who you love…but do care that you have the right to love openly. May you find the love of your life who will be there to openly support you in your career as a Marine, have a beautiful wedding, start a family and live happily ever after…if that’s your dream. Oh and on a totally superficial, juvenile note, you guys look really cute together : )

  110. I’m so proud of you. You are a wonderful man. You have a big heart for not just those who are kind to you but to all of those around you. Thank you for sharing your heart. Thank you for being brave. Thank you.

  111. This ranks among one of the most beautiful things I have ever read in a blog. You were so brave and strong to go through all that, and I am so happy you don’t have to any longer. You write seamlessly and invest the reader in your story. God bless you for your service to your country, and your strength for those who had no voice.

  112. Wonderful story, especially about how accepting your fellow Marines were. I admit, my hands got clammy and I started to sweat, wondering how your night would turn out, but I am so happy that you were supported so thoroughly! Great job.

  113. Matthew,

    Your story was amazing to read, and I am forever grateful I stumbled upon it. I’m also very excited that so many others have been leaving their responses to your post as well. Seeing the support of so many others, and probably a lot of strangers, is encouraging. I know this must have taken a lot of time, effort, and deep consideration to get this all written down and I’m so glad you did. I’m one of the strangers reading this who doesn’t know you personally, but if it means anything, I know a little about the self-pressure to be exemplary in everything you do – and you should be incredibly proud of the things you’ve achieved.

    Thank you for everything and I wish you well in the future!

  114. A very inspiring story. Thank you for sharing this. I’m glad I came across it. Congratulations on your relationship!

  115. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m a former Army officer (and straight) and I remember crying when I realized that many of my friends who had lived under the yoke of DADT would finally be free to live their lives and enjoy their military careers. Beautiful post!

  116. I enjoyed your posts. What I love most is that by the end of this section you let yourself be the real you. That is what really matters. Just be you!

  117. I’m so happy for you, Matthew & Brandon!!! As a 66 year old Catholic who is hetero-married for 37 years with 3 children, I actively support FULL equality for all GLBT citizens, including the right of same-sex couples to marriage equality. I celebrate your beautiful evening at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball and Bourbon Street! I wish I could have been there to give you the support and honor you so richly deserve. Thank you so much for sharing your story (which had me in tears). Commander Robert McNamara, USN, Retired

  118. Sir,

    I am glad you shared you story for everyone to see how DADT effected service members. I am a straight Marine, but support the cause of equal treatment in the DoD. As we know, sexual orientation has nothing to do with how well you can serve your nation. I have served alongside several gay Marines over the years and have been proud to do so. Good luck in the future and maybe one day I can buy you and Brandon a drink at a Marine Corps birthday. Semper Fidelis!!!

    V/R
    Sgt. Bobby J. Yarbrough
    Marine Barracks Washington
    Public Affairs Office

  119. Such a deeply moving and compellingly written story, Matthew. I am very glad I was gone for the weekend and didn’t find your posts until now, I think the cliffhangers might have been too much to bear for me!
    All the best for the future and may you never encounter people who don’t support you or at least politely keep their opinions to themselves.

  120. Semper Fi. I was a Sergeant in the Air Wing and had thought DADT was a good policy while I was in. Near the end of my first enlistment, there were stories of Marines being beaten because it was thought they might be gay. That turned my stomach and I quietly at first, and vocally later fully supported repeal.

    Your story shows the truth in “Adapt and Overcome”, not just for yourself, but for my beloved Corps. Your journey may not be over, but I hope it unfolds with an even keel and clear skies for the rest of your time, and other Gay and Lesbian Marines time. I can’t wait until this is all a non-story.

  121. I am so happy you got to have that sort of experience with your Brandon! I happened to see Part 1 of this on the WordPress homepage and I was so curious to see how things turned out that I had to read all the way to the end of part 4. Congrats! I am glad it worked out the way it did.

  122. Spectacular. I am non-gay, non-military, but I was hanging on every word. I felt the pressured silence leading up to 9/20/11, the anxiety and tension as you walked in to the Ball, and the relief as the night went on. I understood the whole experience, even though both cultures are totally foreign to me. Very well done.

  123. Semper Fi sir. Glad to hear you had a good time at The Ball. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    MCRD San Diego, 3rd Bn, I Co, platoon 3079
    (graduated: 12/18/92)

  124. Matt, by chapter 2 I was thinking, “If this g.d story doesn’t have a happy ending I am coming down there and I am kicking your ass.” Because I couldn’t have handled it if it hadn’t ended happily.

  125. Dear Captain,
    As a United States Marine, you have already revealed yourself – as a person of dignity, compassion, and dedication. You also spoke out most poignantly for all of those who remain behind (I have seen both sides of the fence – I am also both the spouse of a 27 year Marine and the mother of a 7 year Marine) for what we feel in trying to make our loved ones comfortable in their roles away in dangerous situations. P.S. I saw where the Commandant recently made a public statement about his changing view on the DADT policy and I was happy to see his viewpoint change. Does anybody think of Parris Island’s Gen. Lori Reynolds as a “woman Marine”? Of course not. She’s a Marine, period. That the Marine Corps has now lead the way to recognize individuals due to their integrity, leadership, hard work, and concern for the group over issues of gender, sexual orientation, race, and other extraneous issues, makes me even prouder of the Corps. The Marine Corps did more for feminism and debunking racial inequality myths than any legislation could have, because it put its true belief in the individual into action on the battlefield and training field. Thank you for your post.

  126. Thank you… for your service, for having the courage to stand up for what’s right leading up to the repeal, and for sharing your story. I’m so glad I had a chance to read this.

    Happy belated birthday!

  127. What I don’t understand is how is it disrespectful to call Brandon your bf but not disrespectful for the corporal to call his wife his wife. I mean. The way my parents raised me (my dad being army) they said respect was not throwing things in someone’s face, or insulting them. Among other things. The rest of your story is a very interesting read. I just enlisted myself and just got out of basic. I can only wonder what the rest of my experience will be like.

  128. I mean, where do I start. I went through all 4 parts, and loved everything you’ve written. You are an inspiration to me, and others, and I totally wish you the best with your future! Cheers!

  129. This has really made my day. You describe so brilliantly why the existence of DADT, and its elimination, is so important and powerful. Everyone should be allowed to love without fear or discrimination. My respect and thanks.

  130. You’ve been through an amazing journey, and I’m positive you’ve come through stronger than ever before. It’s sad how countries are so civilised today, yet basic human rights of homosexuals are denied. The pain of denial is a strong one; I myself am bisexual and I’ve found that at times, I don’t really belong to any group… But we’ve got to just be strong, and be true to ourselves, right? Semper Fi.

    🙂

    uponatlas.

  131. Matthew, this story was absolutely beautiful. You write so well, bringing those of us who really have no experience in the hardships faced under DADT both by being straight and civilian into a place where the pain and difficulty is tangible. I found myself looking for the link to part 5 at the end. So happy for you!

  132. Sir, thank you for sharing your eloquently written story. You are a truly an asset, not only as a solider to our Marine Corps but as an outstanding civilian to our society. I thank you for your bravery in and out of the line of duty.

    God Bless you, and thank you for every thing you’ve done and continue to do for your country.

  133. Congrats on your bravery and leadership! You … The first generation of post DADT will lead the Armed services to success on this critical objective. In 10 years…. Everyone including due hard conservatives will wonder what all the fuss was about!

  134. I really hope more people get to read your story – thank you so much for sharing it with us. Good luck with everything in the future, and Happy Birthday! 🙂

  135. Wow, what an amazing real-life fairy-tale. I wish you the best of luck and all the happiness in the world to come. Lots of love from Sweden

  136. Thankyou so much for such a heartfelt account. I had goosebumps on my arms.
    My grandmother came out as a lesbian a small time ago all the while being in similar situations to yourself. The pride, courage and strength you show as a community is overwhelming and wonderful!
    Glad that you can finally keep your fully head held high!

  137. Thanks for sharing your story. It was moving and brought tears to my eyes. To me it seems as if nothing has changed, but obviously that is different for you. I’m so happy for you and your boyfriend.

  138. Thank you for sharing your story. My son abandoned his plan to go to Annapolis after coming out, despite the repeal of DADT. He was too afraid the culture wouldn’t really change. I’m going to pass your story on to him.

  139. {I realized there had been no coincidence in how Brandon had chosen him to ask for the ride–not even military-grade top secret intelligence systems are as reliable or accurate as gaydar.}
    Your story amazes me with warm feelings of hope and gives me a sense of pride as a gay guy. 🙂

  140. Matthew, when you said:

    ‘The memorable part of that moment, however, wasn’t the potential embarrassment of asking the gay date of the gay Marine if he’d been to such an event before, but that he asked the same exact question he would have asked any Marine’s date. I wasn’t pretending to fit in any more, trying to disguise the unique part of me that I couldn’t tell anyone about, I was just another Marine celebrating the birthday, and Brandon was just another date. Never before in my life had it felt so good to be no one special.’

    I finally couldn’t hold back the tears. I’ve been active in the g/l/b/t rights movement since 1976, when I came out at 15, and discovered the world (with the exception of Lower Manhattan, where I happened to live) mostly pretended we weren’t there. That kind of invisibility hurt very, very badly. You know. I’ve read other things you’ve posted. We silenced ourselves. We watched what we said and how we acted. DADT was toxic, because they did ask, and didn’t lose their jobs. ALL the pressure was on you, and all l/g/b Forces members, not to let on in any way.

    Friends of mine had been forced into Witch Hunts, in the Even Worse Days, before DADT. The military — especially the US military; most particularly the US Marine Corps — was about as good a place to be gay, as the Islamic Republic of Iran! The UK doesn’t discriminate, to my knowledge. EU Forces vary. By and large, the United States are looked upon by the other First World countries, as somewhat prudish and backwards on the subject of homosexuality.

    I lived in, and loved, the United States (though not necessarily its government) for forty years. I must say, returning to the UK, where I was born, has shed some perspective on things. However, in the course of the 25 years I spent as an activist, I encountered support from surprising people, hostility where you’d expect it, but always, always an optimism in the g/l/b/t communities that ‘We will get past this, too’. The 1980s-90s were a bleak time, but I must say this for the curse of AIDS: it brought the men’s and women’s communities together as never before. I was an AIDS care-giver in the West Village, in my teens — late ’70s- ’81 — because people were needed, and I was there. I couldn’t turn my back. Everyone had so much faith in science, then, and the religious zealots spouting hatred, made my mother shout at the TV (bless her!).

    What we never did, even in the face of Ronald Reagan’s non-response to AIDS in the US, was give up. We organised, and marched, and descended, the world’s happiest plague of demonstrators, on Washington, D.C, for the first Coming Out Day, 11 Oct, 1987. We felt as though we were confronted with a mountain, and had no tools, to bring it down, except our fingernails, the fingernails of those who loved us, and sheer bloody numbers. We started stamping $100 bills ‘Used by Lesbian’, or ‘Gay Dough’, to show we were a significant consumer force. My generation and peers — not the Michelle Bachmann Wreligious Wrong, obviously — have taught their children to be sexual-orientation-blind, the way many of us were taught colour-blindness (though that needs work.)

    On 02 September, 2011, I felt that a large chunk of that mountain, which we’ve been chipping at, since the brave queens of Stonewall, finally gave way.

    Matthew Phelps, your attendance at the US Marines’ Birthday Ball with your lovely date Brandon did even more, to bring down the mountain. You were, for a change, invisible in your NORMALITY. How magical to read that! Thank you for telling it. It does an old Lefty’s heart good. Not that I’m going to stop being an activist. It just feels as though, for a change, we got something done with all our activism. If one US Marine can take his date to the Birthday ball — irrespective of gender — next year, you all can! Congratulations. Thank you for your story.

    Thank you for your service. I am anti-war. I am VERY pro-forces. If there must be war, we must do better by the men and women who serve.

    Respectfully,

    Uma Devidatta
    Liverpool, UK

    PS I thought there were women in the US Marine Corps? Guess I was wrong…

    1. First off, AMEN, and second, he did mention a girl/girl couple at that ball. Yes, there are women in the Marine corps, though they are still a very very small minority. That’s probably ok. Each branch has its strengths, and biology does quite a bit to limit what people can do. I don’t think there’s anything controversial in acknowledging that. As long as everyone has EXACTLY the same chance to try and either fail or succeed, right?

  141. Sir,

    As a Marine veteran who served with many great Marines who were gay, I was moved by your story. While not having to deal with it myself, I did see the pain they went through privately each day as they tried to balance their careers and personal relationships.

    While most of these Marines I served with have since left the Corps I hope that, like you, they have found some measure of peace and happiness now that they can be both a Marine and openly gay instead of living a double life.

    Semper Fidelis,

    J. James

  142. Thank you so much for sharing this and for serving our country. I’m happy you’re now able to live freely, it’s such a wonderful feeling. 🙂 I wish you all the best in love and work, Rae of 7000peopleproject.org

  143. I just want to say ‘thank you’ for sharing your experience. I found myself wanting to continue reading (I hope that you will continue to – and yes, I think you should write a book about your experiences of being in the Marines before and after DADT).

    By the time I got to the end of the 4th post I would myself welling up, just a little bit.

    Please, keep on sharing your experiences 🙂

  144. I am a 73-year-old straight female and I am in tears after reading this post. There is hope for this country after all.

    Good luck and God bless you,

    Donna

  145. Beautiful! I’m so very glad that DADT is now history for our military and our country. Thank you for the sacrifices you have made – over and above those made by most service members.

  146. As a proud retired member of the Canadian Armed Forces, I can say that a man’s or women’s sexuality does not define their worth as a member of any country’s armed Forces, but their willingness and their commitment to serve. May generations of persons of any sexuality continue to defend and fight for their right to be themselves as well, Well written young man. I salute you.

  147. First I’d like to say congratulations on the repeal of DADT and the positive impact it had in your life. I was very touched by your story and I hope others will have similar experiences to yours when they too come out to their fellow military compadres. I imagine it will still take a long while for attitudes to change across the board though.

    I want to ask a question, and I do not want to offend in any way. Why did you want to join the military when you knew you would be discriminated against? When you joined originally did you under-estimate how much that would affect you in your life…? Did you join to make a statement about being able to do the job as good as – or better – than others (which it sounds like you did, I’d add!)?

    I totally understand and respect your desire to serve the country, but there are many other ways to serve without going into the military… the Peace Corps is the first thing that comes to mind, serving in the U.S. government, even the Defense Dept., as a civilian is another…and there are many others. Choosing the one route that ensures you cannot “be who you are” day to day isn’t necessarily an obvious choice.

    I say this because there are a lot of soldiers who have put themselves in this position over the years – fully knowing that they would lose their careers, veteran benefits, pensions, or be abused, beaten, drugged, or worse, just because of who they were. And all of these things HAVE happened to many people…decades of respectful and valuable service flushed down the proverbial toilet just because of who someone chooses to sleep with, and as ridiculous as it was, it was the “law of the land” for the military.

    Why would anyone voluntarily sign up for that?

    Respectfully curious,
    Carol

    1. I can’t answer for him, but I can answer for me in another area of life. I had no choice in the skills and abilities that nature gave me. I was given a mind that could do certain things extraordinarily well and found tremendous joy and satisfaction in doing them, and just by chance could do them better than anyone else I knew. But, being female, I had to do them in an environment of young 20-something males all of whom thought they were the smartest people in the room, and none of whom were prepared to be shown up by a “chick.” They got mean, the got hostile, and it was like living in the Twilight Zone. I was too young and too frightened in that environment and got run off, denying a basic part of myself, and I don’t think I’ve ever recovered from it.

      When your skill set and ambition don’t match what society says your exterior is supposed to be, and when the other people who share your gifts make your life a hell for having them, you have a very ugly choice: pursue an ambition surrounded by people who think of you as subhuman, or deny your gifts, and live your life constantly regretful and depressed about how you never even gave your gifts a chance to flourish, and wonder why the universe even bothered to give them to you if you aren’t supposed to have them and can’t do anything with them. Gifts become torture in that event. There were days that I have wished very fervently that if I had to be a second-class subhuman in the eyes of those “colleagues,” why couldn’t I have been born stupid enough to not care or notice?

      The thing about a choice like that is that there is no “right” answer. Join up and have a part of your soul shrivel and die every time you are stomped on or insulted, denied, dismissed, and otherwise told that your physical being and very existence is wrong, or deny your gifts and ambition, and have your soul slowly shrivel over the next few decades as you enter middle age and wish the universe would just make you a stupid blob and content to be that way. Quick, pick one!

      1. You hit it on the head. Serving the military is not just a job, and not all service is the same. Although it took an incredibly long time to get here, I knew we would, because there’s no room in Honor, Courage, and Commitment for discrimination. I joined the Marine Corps because I wanted to serve my country as a Marine, and no needlessly discriminatory policy was going to keep me from it. I lived up to my end of the policy, and although at times some Marines failed to live up to theirs, the core values of the Marine Corps held strong and true.

      2. I don’t think the Marines were given a coherent policy to implement. That was the big problem with DADT. Granted it was all Clinton could do at the time, it was essentially buck-passage. “We’ll see if we can deal with the problem by pretending it isn’t there.” The military — a bunch of people who get a mite cranky with anyone who can’t come to a damn decision — didn’t care for the dithering. They weren’t given leadership when they needed it, for someone to just say, “Look, this isn’t the first time you got an order to implement that made no sense to you, and it won’t be the last, so deal.” That would have been fine for them. It was the dithering that did the damage. This was a new, unfamiliar thing to them — they needed leaders who were willing to say, “Trust me, just do it. I know this might not make sense to you, but it’ll be okay.” They didn’t get that. They were stuck holding the bag to implement a mess of a policy because the people who should have been taking that risk dumped it on them instead.

        And I should make it clear that I wasn’t in the military — this was a different kind of gift that didn’t work out well. But I admire you for sticking to it and PROVING how irrelevant it was that your gift showed up in a person who wasn’t expected to have it. I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive myself for allowing others to kill mine, and even to some extent for colluding with them by giving up. But again I was a kid, and there was no leadership given to anyone, most certainly not by the people who SHOULD have given it to me and to those guys who I will probably never be able to forgive. I’m so glad you stuck it out long enough to see how decent your fellow soldiers really can be. You Marines will be fine. You bitch, you moan, but when push comes to shove, it’s “git her done, people!”

        Sorry for the self-centered babble … Congratulations on finally being able to take Prince Charming to the ball. 🙂

  148. I know this is nothing compared to what you went through, but when I was in college I lived in a fraternity house. One of my best friends lived across the hall from me. He had a “cousin” that came over a lot of weekends. Somehow we were all clueless to the fact that he was homosexual. When he decided he wanted to take his “cousin” to our spring formal, he slowly came out guys in the house – one at a time. I loved my fraternity. I learned so much about life from living in that house with those 40 guys, but I was never more proud of my fraternity then when my friend and his boyfriend danced together at our formal. I applaud the repeal of DADT in general, and I applaud you for your courage and strength of character. Thank you for all that you do for our country – for your service, and especially for your integrity.

    As a pastor I worry very much about LGBT teenagers and the fear they have. I wrote a blog about it a couple of years ago. http://fatpastor.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/coming-out/

  149. I like how you describe yourself in the seventh paragraph on page 1. You don’t seem like a gay right activist but a gay rights SOF. Like many who have commented on this post, I’m very proud of your pride, determination and personal call to action. I hope that you realize that you are doing a service for not just gays and lesbians in the Marines but all kinds of people all around the world who face institutionalized prejudice.

    DADT was a policy expressly hoped by President Bill Clinton to help bring about tolerance; and tolerance is good, but the very premise of the policy was clear to only perpetuate an atmosphere that was far less than tolerant and doomed to failure in a world struggling but in some ways certainly succeeding to advance.

    Congratulations on the repeal of DADT because THAT’S tolerance. By all means, enjoy the success. I suspect; however, that I’m probably overstating the fact that there is still much work to be done because while tolerance is good acceptance is better, and that’s what you really deserve.

    I live in Canada, and both our countries still have a long way to go before achieving acceptance for gays and people of many dissenting social groups. In consideration of gays in the military; while there have been serious cases of harassment and discrimination against gay men and women who serve Canada, it had to take a 1992 federal government decision to allow homosexuals to serve openly in our armed forces. That was an act of tolerance. Efforts continued for the gaining of acceptance. Our military, proactively in 2005, implemented an official policy directing its military chaplains to solemnize marriages for gay or lesbian military personnel (Canada’s first gay military wedding occurred on an airbase in Nova Scotia—officiated by the base’s Anglican chaplain, some time shortly after the federal government’s same-sex marriage bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons in May 2005). Yes, proactively. THAT’S acceptance.

    I want to say at this point, that we shouldn’t kid ourselves either. While tolerance and even acceptance appears to have increased since 2000, homophobia remains pervasive in Canadian heterosexual society overall, not just the military. Positive change; nevertheless, can happen. You will achieve it in the US too. Not just with time but with conscious, calculating effort to show others how wrong they have been to deny your very freedom to live free.

  150. This was truly a motivating piece. As a straight female I never have this problem and I dont think about it on a daily basis. Thank you for opening to my eyes. You reminded me there are bigger issues than whats going on in my ‘world’. Truly Humbling and Inspiring.

  151. So amazing to read. It makes me proud! I hope I continue to see things going this way. Our country has come pretty far, but I know I’d love to see it go further. Much much further!

  152. I’m so grateful you can share your story now, so people can see how much of a flawed policy DADT was from the beginning. I’m glad you guys had a fabulous time and no one was an idiot to you when the alcohol started flowing. 🙂

    ~~Dana

  153. WOW!

    What an amazing thing to read about, to share, and to be allowed to witness. Conga rats to you and Brandon, you walked the gauntlet and survived. Equally importantly, your fellow Marines walked it with you and woke up the next morning to find they had survived. Isn’t that what a Marine strives to do?

    It’s been a long time coming. Thank you for paving the way with dignity and grace.

    Also… nothing beats gaydar! LOL (that made me laugh out loud)

  154. Thank you for sharing this wonderful occasion with everyone. As a Marine, you are respected. As a Man, you are valued. As a Marine, who just happens to be gay and who also has the courage to act and write to bring about solutions to inequality for gays/lesbians, you are loved, honored, valued, respected, and every other word that implies my gratitude for your actions. Thank you.

  155. I am so glad you had a wonderful evening with a great person.
    Because that is really what it is all about in the end when all wrongs are righted… 🙂

  156. Another great inspirational post. Your courage absolutely blows me away! But I bet you feel like a heavy weight has been lifted off your shoulders. Glad you had a wonderful night and I’m thrilled it worked out for you.

  157. Mathew,
    Thank you for showing the “other side” of the story. As a straight man, and former Sailor, I never really thought about what it must have been like for my gay friends to not be able to acknowledge their relationships openly on the ship or in public during liberty. I mean I knew they were gay and knew that a couple of them were couples but until now – almost 15 years after my discharge – I never thought about how hard it had to have been for them. I could openly display my latest arm candy anywhere around the base and ship – I feel terrible for flaunting that now. I have called a couple of my old buddies (who are still together and also out of the Navy) and apologized to them for my insensitivity I showed them. We all cried – because of you and your story I finally understand what they meant when they said I would understand until I was able to put myself to the shoes of a gay man in the military. Thank you Mathew for finally loaning me the shoes I needed to see this.

  158. “As I read your posts about this, I was quite overcome by the emotions and memories it evoked of my own experiences serving in the uniform of my country, while not being able to be true to my heart and the reality of who I really was. As I write this now, tears of vicarious joy are still flowing in my eyes… I am so happy for you and for every other SGL person now able to serve with honor and greater integrity… At times, I can hardly believe that I lived to see this day that as a boy and young man, I thought would never come.”

  159. This is an awesome story! So glad no one made you guys feel out of place or unwanted!! Great pic! And it’s about time the military accepted gays. Love is hard enough to find – let people find it with whom they are attracted to.

  160. Happy Birhtday Sir! As a Marine’s daughter I have always found November 10th to be the best and most genuine holiday at our house. Thank you for sharing your story. Some battles are not waged in the field but at the homefront, where it takes even more courage, tenacity, and eloquence to be who you are. The realization of a dream is the sweetest victory. Bravo!
    Semper Fi

  161. I just read all four parts of this. Amazing story eloquently written. You are a credit to the Marines and to yourself and I hope your story can inspire the same bravery in others and help spread more understanding and acceptance the world over.

  162. Thank you for sharing that wonderful story. I retired from the Navy in 94 living a self imposed DADT and trying to keep my flame under control; at times I was sucessful. Most of my co-working responded to my effiminate nature with respect. My military career was fun but a lie. I appreciate you living your truth. One day soon we will have full federal equality.

  163. This story makes me very proud of our country and the Marine Corps. Thank you for your service – and for your bravery and ethics. This was an amazing story; for every one person leaving a comment here there are hundreds, thousands more people supporting you.

  164. Dear Captain Phelps,
    Outstanding! Your story conveys bravery and wisdom. The Marines’ Birthday is A Big Deal and I’m proud of you and Brandon for stepping up to it! Thank you for working for this moment, and sharing it when it came. DADT was demeaning and unworthy of those who serve and those who have served.

    Many happy returns of the day!

  165. *beams* Thank you so much for sharing your story of the Marine Corps Birthday Ball. I am glad that it was so overwhelmingly positive for you! It was great to hear such a nice story.

    And thank you, also, for talking about your experiences from before DADT was repealed. I am glad to have read them, and am honoured that you would share them with us.

  166. Beautifully written. I admire your strength and courage so much. You set an amazing example for everyone around you. You deserved this wonderful night that you wrote about 🙂 All the best to you in the future!

  167. Your moving story made me so glad that we as a nation are one step closer to equality for all. I’m so glad your evening was a turning point, culminating in joy and human connection. Your story of steadfastness and dignity was a page-turner, I’m glad you’re ‘Freshly Pressed’.

  168. Thank you for sharing this! I am so glad that you don’t have to lie or hide anymore! Your story brought tears to my eyes – I’m so glad that DADT was repealed! Congrats! All the best to you & Brandon!

  169. I’m so indescribably happy for you. You did a masterful job of describing how much hurt DADT brought to your life, and then painted a vivid picture of how it felt to finally be allowed to be out in the open. I dare any opponent of the repeal to read this and then seriously defend his or her position.

    All the best to you, Brandon and all gay and lesbian military members and their partners as you navigate this post-DADT environment. Thank you for your service.

  170. Thank you so much for your story! It is truly uplifting and inspiring. I have a close friend who is Marine, who has refused to see how DADT really does affect the lives of the people he works with . I’m sharing your story with all my friends and maybe it’ll open some more eyes. I wish you the greatest happiness with your partner and that you find all the love and success in life that you’re looking for.

  171. Hey Matthew;

    Taking Amber and our Daughter Makayla to the ball and being able to introduce them as my partner and my daughter was an amazing experience. I guess I had the upper hand on you in that aspect; I didn’t have to pounder about what title to give them! Amber was so nervous; she always tells me she doesn’t want to “ruin” my opportunity to be a General! But I was so proud to have both of them by my side and share the experience with them that nothing else mattered! It was interesting to see the reaction of some of our fellow Marines that didn’t even know I had a family! Like you, I had to be ambiguous about my personal life and referred to Amber as my “friend” more times than I care to remember. I could had taken the easy route and continue hiding who I am, continue brining Amber to unit events, refer to her as my friend, and smile when one of the male Marines asks me for her number. I couldn’t do that to Makayla; she is so proud of saying “my mom is a Marine.” Had I introduced her as “my friend’s daughter” at the ball, I would had broken her heart. And I couldn’t continue doing that to my fellow Marines! As you know know, I was married for almost 10 years. Being able to share my own relationship experiences when my fellow Marines when they were having problems with their significant others was one of the things that enabled me to connect with them for so many years. When I started my relationship with Amber, I had to bite my tongue when fellow Marines came to me with relationship or family issues! I would say “well I don’t have kids but…” and it slowly chipped away on my soul every time.

    One of the most memorable moments of that day happened earlier while still at work. None of my Marines knew I am with another woman and I didn’t want anybody being uncomfortable that night or wondering what Amber and Makayla were to me. So, I did what I said I wasn’t going to do; I came out to them. I told them “I never talk about my personal life because before September 20 I had to be ambiguous about it in order to keep my job! I am engaged to a woman, her name is Amber, and we have a 14 year old daughter who will also be coming to the ball.” I wish I could had taken a picture of that moment. The smiles in their faces showed genuine happiness and zero judgement. 

    Overall it was an amazing night. We didn’t take the formal picture together; we figured we will wait to stir that pot until next year! After dinner, Makayla asked if she could go back to the room and sleep and, as you know, Amber and I headed to Bourbon Street! It was a great way to close a memorable night; great company, plenty of drinks, and lots of laughter!

    Cat

  172. I want to thank you for sharing that with us. I used to be one of those critics myself when I was younger, but really it was my ignorance that brought out my criticism. I didn’t understand how homosexuality worked, but eventually I realized that it works the same way heterosexuality does. You can’t help who you are attracted to and you shouldn’t have to try. Once I was old enough to understand what DADT was I couldn’t understand what made people think that being gay alters your ability to serve and I still don’t understand it. Are they the stereotypes, similar to the ones that make people feel women shouldn’t serve in the military, that make people believe this? Who knows, but clearly you prove them wrong along with many other people that are out there protecting our country and if they don’t like the way you do it, then tell the people back home to do it themselves. I am just trying to think of the number of people that were too afraid to join the military because of DADT and how many of those people would have been raised to high honors. How many people would have saved hundreds or thousands of lives by being in our military? What you have done, and what you will do are all things worthy of honor and for every person against you, there are plenty more behind you. At that, I have one more thing to add; after you are done serving our country, please become a writer (if you’re not already one) because what you wrote here moved me to tears and for that I thank you again.

  173. what a special story! thank you so much for your service – both as a marine and as a role model for future marines, gay or straight. it is lovely to read about someone who is so self-aware and self-confident and can stand up for what they believe in with dignity, understanding and with the goal of creating future cooperation. beyond that, though, i’m just a sucker for a good, romantic, kiss story… 😉

  174. Once again, the Marines lead the way – only this time it’s in a social context. Best of luck to you in all your endeavors. And thank you for the many sacrifices you have made to protect those of us who are civilians.

  175. Too powerful for words! Thank you for sharing your story. You must be one brave dude not only to share your story but also to voluntarily live a life where you face danger to protect others. The military are lucky to have men like you.

  176. This made me feel proud to be American. I’m from a Army family but I was in MCJROTC in High School. Knowing enough Marines as close friends and my old Master Sgt,I can understand a little of the social pressure thats there. I am proud to know men and women like you are fighting for my personal freedoms. I never understood ‘dont ask, dont tell’. A person who is gay/lesbian/bi can defend and serve just the same as the next guy. I am glad you have your personal freedoms that you deserve. It warms the heart to read about a happy ending. Thank your for sharing this. ❤

  177. Fantastic post. I’m so glad you’re finally able to be yourself, and though it might not be a fairy tale wedding, it certainly seems to be a dream come true. I go to a very LGBT-friendly school, and though I’ve always been supportive and understanding of it, I’m really beginning to be more in touch with the issues surrounding this community. It pains me that there are issues, and this was no doubt a huge step toward ending them. I really don’t understand the persecution and oppression of anyone who isn’t heterosexual, especially being the roommate of a lesbian who is the coolest person ever and the friend of a number of homo- and bisexual people. That’s just it– they are people, just like those who are trying to keep them down. It boggles me as to how they can overlook that plain-as-day fact.

    Anyway, congratulations to you and Brandon, I’m happy for the both of you. And thank you for all that you’ve done for this country.

  178. I’m actually crying as I read the end of this particular story….I’m without words…or so many that I can’t share them all.

    Thank you…..

  179. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so moved by your determination and dignity and heart, and I am happy that you are finally able to be who you are and love whomever you want.

  180. Captain Phelps: Congratulations! You have so eloquently stated all of the angst that all of us gay servicemembers, who served before you, felt each and every day! I was a US Navy Supply Corps Officer for eleven years, and had to “hide” by husband for the last four years of my service. By the way, my husband had served in the Marines prior to us meeting. I would introduce him as my cousin at all our special events–like the ship commissioning ceremony of my last ship. I am so happy that you are now able to be open about yourself while still in the Corps. You are an inspiration to all active duty personnell.

    Semper Fi!
    Stephen Brainerd (Lieutenant, US Navy, 1987 – 1998)
    David Hartley (Sgt, USMC, 1980 – 1989)

  181. As an LGB servicemember, it made me so happy to read this. I’ve recently entered a training environment in which I’ve encountered some fairly brutal homophobia, which has been hard for me to deal with, so this was extremely heartening. I’ve never encountered such bile in my home unit as I have here, so this was a great reminder that my current environment isn’t the rule, nor does it have to ever be that way.

    I’m really happy for you, and thankful that you shared your story with us =)

  182. Matthew,

    I work among Marines every day as a contractor. I’m awed by them and have an incredible amount of repect for who they are. A friend shared a link to this on Facebook; her daughter serves or served in the US Army under some of the same constraints that you did. I decided to click and read, but wasn’t sure what I’d find once your page loaded. Trust in my friend’s judgement was well placed today.

    Your story is fantastic. I’m glad that you are openly able to tell it without fear of reprisal now. I am beyond happiness to know that you’re able to serve openly and honestly. What I read in your story was incredibly thought provoking and full of detail to the point that I can picture every bit of it. You’ve got quite a good sense of humor too; the story about getting ready to go to the Birthday Ball and it taking so long to get ready.

    Thank you for a great read and the education that I got today. You’re right, it’s not too much to ask to be treated like normal; like everyone else. Congratulations on your success and thank you for your service as a Marine.

  183. I wish my boyfriend had as much integrity as you do, Matthew. He’s the most amazing man I’ve ever met. He’s kind and gentle and treats me well, but even now, even after his contact with the United States Marine Corps is over, even now that DADT is gone, I’m still his dirty little secret.

    I applaud your courage and integrity and I thank you with all my heart for sharing this beautiful story with the world. I wish you all the luck in the world devil dog.

  184. Proud of you both and the guts it took to go to your first ball together. Personally, I would expect nothing less from the Marine Corps than total acceptance of the policy and equal treatment of you both. You are the “President’s own.”

    Semper Fi

  185. I love your story… and I love your writing just as much! I was drawn into your experience and could feel the tug-of-war both before and after the repeal of DADT. The way you crafted your experience, even for someone who does not always understand the ways of the military… You relayed the pride, history and even the pomp & circumstances surrounding the Marines and their Birthday Celebration, something for all of us to celebrate. There are many amazing details in your story that I hope many people get to read and relive. It was a privilege and honor to read!

  186. A man of integrity who is intelligent, articulate and a Marine to boot. Does it get any better than that? Good luck in your future endeavors And if Brandon is the one – go for it! Thanks for a great read.

  187. Just happened to click over to your blog from a link at AfterElton. Thank you, Matthew, for your service to our country, for your courage, your integrity, and your willingness to share your story. I left ordained Lutheran ministry 13 years ago so that I could live my life openly with my partner. Now, as a physical therapist, I can live my life honestly, share all of my life with my co-workers, and treasure all the more what my partner and I share as a couple. The ability to live openly and honestly – it really is a great gift, isn’t it? You wrote such moving words about the pain of the closeted life and you wrote even more beautifully about your joy and dignity as an out, proud man. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Blessings on all your endeavors as you serve our nation and in your personal life as well!

  188. I love your story and was moved by it. I, too, am gay. I served in the military as a medical officer. Three years was spent with the Marine Corps as a general medical officer for an infantry battalion, and seven spent in various Naval hospitals. Throughout my ten years in military, I lived with my partner. I got out of the Navy in 2010, before DADT was repealed. I was blessed to have found an an amazing man while I was stationed in in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. He was the most understanding and loving man. Despite the fact that we lived in hiding during my military career, he continued to love and support me. He went through the same pain and suffering as any military spouse did. He cried when I left for deployment, and anxiously waited for my calls and my safe return. When I went to the Marine Corps Ball, he would always joke if there will ever be a time when same-gender partners will be able to attend military ceremonies together. It broke my heart that I couldn’t go with him. But I told him, some day things will change and things will be better. With no repeal in sight during my active duty years and tired to living in hiding, we both agreed that to keep our relationship going strong we had to leave the military. I never regretted joining the military despite knowing I would subject myself to living a double life. If it wasn’t for the military, I would never have lived in Hawaii and met my partner. And after over 11 years of being together, we continue to go strong. While I never had the opportunity to take him to a military ball, I am thankful that others, such as you, now have the freedom to. I thank you for your service and thank you for this beautiful story.

  189. Heart warming story! I just finished a beach novel “The Murderers Daughters” and was looking for something good to read. Saw you on TV today and looked the blog up. I can’t wait for your book. Congratulations to you and Brandon and to us (America) for finally doing the right thing. My 13 year old son asked me this weekend why was I so fascinated with the “gays” and I explained to him that I was excited about justice. Give Brandon my best and keep shinning Marine!

  190. Your story brought tears to my eyes. You are SUCH a wonderful example of what a true Marine is – always faithful. Even when it is easier to shy away and pretend to be someone else, you chose to be faithful to who you truly are. I pray that every person in our Armed Forces will take the steps that you have taken to be who they want to be and love who they chose to love. You are an inspiration.

  191. A wonderful story, so inspiring. As a bisexual female who has served in the military I understand most of what you have been through. When I saw picture of the two marines kissing in Hawaii at deployment homecoming, I rememebered all the times I wished there was someone who would greet me with hugs and kisses from deployment as my family and friends were on the mainland. And then I thought of all the times gay servicemembers loved ones had been there and they still couldn’t hug and kiss their boyfriend/girlfriend and I cried at the joy in those pictures. I cried for all the years that gays had to serve in secret, and I rejoiced for all the gay servicemembers in the future that don’t have to anymore. Your story was wonderful and you two make a lovely couple. Congrats!

  192. Awww… You are one brave fellow. Not just in the military way, but in other ways, too. Congratulations on your engagement! You did good service to your fellow servicemen and servicewomen when you revealed the level of suffering caused by DADT. I try to do my share by my gay and lesbian friends and family members by writing m/m romance. You actually do something that has wide and far-reaching impact: you live it, you breathe it, and at the same time you are like every other Marine out there.

  193. This was an amazing read, thank you for sharing it. Also, thank you for for fighting for our country, thank you for getting the message out even when it could have come at great cost to you, and bless you for being brave in every way possible. I hope someday everyone will be free to be who they are!

  194. 🙂 this made me ver happy. thanks for sharing. will be celebrating NYE with my boyfriend for the first time this year, and then he’ll be spending a week w me at university. the first time we’ll be officially out as a couple in these scenarios. can relate to so much of what you wrote. look forward to looking him in the eyes when it’s all happening and kissing him too. a very happy 2013 to you and yours!

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