On comments

I am completely overwhelmed by the response the posts about the Birthday Ball have gotten. I want you all to know how much I truly appreciate the kind words and support you have shown Brandon and me. I wish I had time to reply to each of you, but I just can’t keep up. You should at least know that I have read every single comment and reply and I’ve shared them with Brandon, too. I love very much that you’re posting your words for me and everyone else to see.

As for the comments themselves, I do moderate them. The ones I approve are completely untouched–I would never try to change what someone else is trying to say. There were some comments I did not approve, though, because they were filled with hatred and ignorance. My hope in posting this lengthy 4-part blog entry is that people will come to understand a side of DADT that they never heard about in the press or debates, not re-hash the debates all over again. All the tired arguments about religious objections and showers have been heard before, and if people still feel the need to make them, they can do it somewhere else. I’m not going to let a few haters try to destroy the positive energy you’ve all generated through your love and support. (I also happen to believe that if any of those comments made it up on these posts you all would rip them to shreds and I am just trying to save them the public humiliation.)

Just a note on contacting me: I have received dozens of Facebook friend requests, but it’s my personal account and I have always had a pretty strict rule about only being “friends” with people I know or have at least conversed with on more than just a couple occasions. If I don’t approve your friend request, it’s not because I’m ignoring you or being rude, it’s just because we don’t know each other. I do, however, have subscriptions enabled on my profile and my privacy settings are pretty liberal, so if you really want to see my posts there, feel free to subscribe. As for Twitter, I welcome you to follow my tweets, but that’s my personal account, too. I don’t have a staff to keep me up to date on everyone, so please don’t be offended if I don’t always follow back–that’s not really what the system was designed for anyway. If you want to talk to me directly, send me an email to my Facebook account or my personal email address–I can handle those much easier than all the replies to posts on WordPress.

Finally, I’m not sure if it came across in the posts how much strength and courage it took Brandon to get through that evening. It’s been said that Ginger Rogers never received enough credit for doing everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in heels. Not only did Brandon have to deal with the pressures of being the only guy there on a date with a male Marine, but he didn’t know much about the Marine Corps, knew nothing about protocol or the ceremony, and certainly didn’t know anyone who was there. He made it through gracefully (and handsomely, if I may say), and the confidence he portrayed was both calming and inspiring.

Author: Matthew

U.S. Marine Corps officer living in North Carolina. 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.

46 thoughts on “On comments”

  1. This is the first of your writing that I’ve read. I have subscribed to you because you write with such integrity that I want to read everything you write. My very best wishes to you and Brandon, now and always.

  2. After reading your 4-parter about the Marine Birthday Ball I can’t even remember how I stumbled across you – but congrats on a great night and providing a great read, you really put your heart in it. I wish the world could be more open-minded, but I like to think we’re improving, and your story seems to say that’s true. All the best!

  3. Both you and Brandon are inspiring. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Five years ago, I was on a trip to St. Augustine with a friend, Logan. Logan came along to visit his boyfriend. The two were so cute together, but when it came to going site seeing they were strangely distance. They were afraid to hold hands. It was upsetting because when I asked them why they said they didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. Reading your story, reminded me of that day. I hated that they had to hide. Thank you for your bravery and courage.

  4. Heya I dropped you a comment on your previous post before I saw this one. Yes Brandon is a courageous young man to agree to be the only male date in a room filled with a 1,000 Marines! You must mean a lot to each other 🙂

  5. Matthew: I believe almost all of us understand how very busy your life is and that it isn’t possible to converse with everyone. I’m just glad that you DO, in fact share the unfolding of your life with us. Today is Dec. 4 and I turn NOT 60 today (59). If only I could’ve known as an early teen that one day, there would be a time when you and I could live our lives as ourselves and not have to play an eternal game of “let’s pretend”, then I’m sure I could’ve avoided a lot of sleepless nights. When I think of how it once was, making sure I wasn’t walking “funny”, having to be sure my handshakes were firm, forcing myself to speak in a lower octave than normal, being sure I didn’t show appreciation for a beautiful spring day, and a thousand other things that occupied my thoughts each and every day, then I once again find myself baffled at how anybody today can possibly believe that I would CHOOSE to live in such a way! But I have long ago come to understand that such a belief stems from a fear deep within themselves and has nothing whatsoever to do with me. Oh, and THANK YOU for deciding to ommit the negative comments that you recieve. We know you get them, of course, but in deciding to keep them from us for now, you show just how much concern you have for others. The “negatives” exist, but they grow so tiresome. I have not heard one new argument against us since I was 12. Your decision to leave them out shows that you are most certainly a gentleman. Thank you, and thank you for helping to make THIS birthday much happier than I had ever thought it COULD be when I was that 12 year old. God bless you, and, if I may, I should like to keep writing now and then to you. Even though you can’t possibly respond individually, it still makes me feel so much better to write and say “Well done, and thank you.” Good night Matthew, and sleep the sleep of Peace.

    Lee Jeffreys

  6. I love reading about what you have experienced and how if feels to go through uncharted territory. I can visualize it as I read it. Funny how scary and comforting it is to lead the way through those experiences. You are a perfect example of the best that the military has to offer, regardless of sexual orientation. Your courage is admirable. You have caused me to reflect on my experiences as being gay and going through the gay revolution during the 1974-1978 time period when I was in the military. It was scary, challenging and mysterious, never knowing if you were going to be outed or become a victim of the latest witch hunt. In many ways it shaped my thinking and made me a stronger person and a survivor. I often dreamed of the day when you could be in the military as a gay person with no worries. Now that it is here, you have to be even stronger than you were while closeted, because some people still think that your aren’t good enough. Keep proving them wrong and keep writing for us. You are our modern day hero. I wish you every success and happiness. I have often toyed with writing about what it was like to be gay in the military prior to DADT, I was 17 when I went in and 21 when I left the military. But damn did I have some outrageous experiences and I met a ton of wonderful gay successful military enlisted men and officers, including a gay general. Keep writing, keep the faith.

  7. “…if any of those comments made it up on these posts you all would rip them to shreds and I am just trying to save them the public humiliation.” You’re right that there would be an outcry, some more aggressive than others. Still, I hope that very fact tells you and your loved ones that there are many who will stand for your defense, as you have stood for our country, in the event that there are those who are hateful. That number is growing, thanks to people like you!

  8. Hey Matthew, just reaching out to say hello. I don’t follow many blogs… actually there is just one other blog I follow. After reading your post today, I’m enamored by your writing style, your candid and heartfelt expression. So, I’m definitely going to subscribe. However, have you ever given thought to a lighter background? White text on a dark background isn’t always most favorable for reading long text. Also, saw your Epcot Album and wondered if you’re from Orlando. (That’s where I am) Best wishes my friend

  9. This is your show, Brandon, but I would ahve let the haters through. Don’t you realize your new legion of fans and admirers would have been more than ready to face them for you?
    You’ve devoted your life to defending the weak and oppressed; when was the last time someone fought for you?

  10. Thanks for this, Sir. As an enlisted member of the United States Coast Guard, I too have lived under the guise of DADT for 8 1/2 years. I have not had to face the same sort of hardships and difficulties you have, but have felt the strain and worry and same brainwashed effect. I applaud your courage and appreciate your willingness to step forward and speak the truth.

    Best to you and Brandon!

    Kelly Watkins, CPO
    United States Coast Guard

  11. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with the rest of the world. This made me cry with emotion just to get a glimpse of all you have gone through and are going through. I hope you and your boyfriend live happily ever after in full domestic bliss and being able to take advantage of the best of this great counry.

  12. Matthew,
    I feel truly blessed to call you a friend. Meeting you all those years ago, I knew you were special and would do great things. And so you are 🙂

  13. Love is love!
    It is as simple as that.
    All love comes and goes from heart to heart. We are all equal and we all have hearts. Dalai Lama once said, when asked what he thought about people of the same sex being together:
    How can anything that is sprung from love be bad?

    I salute you

  14. WordPress suggested your post about the ball, and I’m telling you I couldn’t put my laptop down! It’s a candid, joyfully personal, and brave account that so few are afforded the opportunity to consider. For that, among everything else, I’d like to say thank you! I live in a very conservative area, and the difference of political opinion, many times, comes from lack of understanding. Your humanizing account of love and respect is something that can’t be debated.

  15. Matthew, I was mesmerized reading your blog entries about the Birthday Ball; your writing style is so open, honest and heartfelt that I felt like I was there with you and Brandon. Mostly, I felt such pride and happiness for you getting to enjoy such a special event with the person you care about. That’s a great thing. But part of me felt sad to read (in other entries) of your rejection of the church, maybe God, I’m not sure if it’s one or both.

    I can see how it would be hard to reconcile who you are with what organized religion teaches. I have several close friends who are gay and in committed relationships and I can’t reconcile in myself why, as a Christian, I am supposed to have a problem with that. I don’t. One friend in particular, if she were not gay, would probably be viewed by anyone in my church as a godly woman…so why does the fact that she’s gay change that? I don’t know, but for me, it doesn’t. I don’t know my Bible well enough to even debate that and I don’t think it would make me particularly smart to do so. Who cares? I know she’s a wonderful person and in my eyes she models characteristics of God everyday…gay or not.

    Once in Catholic school I asked a nun this question: “How can we have free will AND God be all-knowing at the same time? We either have free will and he DOESN’T know the choices we will make, or we have NO free will and everything is already decided for us in this life and the next.” Her response was, “Sometimes you just have to live by faith.” Which, as a grown up I’ve taken to mean: Sometimes we just don’t know the answer and we just have to know that God is in control and that’s all that matters. I don’t know how my friend could be hated by God for who she loves any more than he could hate me for who I love. The same goes for you and Brandon. You are who you are Matthew because God made you that way and he doesn’t make mistakes. I have always had a soft spot for Marines simply because they are cut from a different cloth–special. You are certainly that, Thank you for your service to this country; we owe you a debt we will never be able to repay. Blessings!

    1. Charlotte – so true. I am sure that Matthew and Brandon (Matthew mentioned a female couple even) were not the only same sex couple at the many birthday celebrations across the world…why was the world focused on JT’s date (as cool as he was to go – and I wont take anything away from his acceptance of the invite)? Maybe it would have made it harder for Matthew and Brandon to be “normal” if the media had been all over them….

  16. I discovered your four part series through the Freshly Pressed page on WordPress. Thanks for standing up for the right thing, guys like you are the reason I refuse to listen to people insult service members in my presence.

    Hope you and Brandon both do well!

  17. First and foremost: Thank you for your service to your country by serving as a Marine.
    Secondly: Thank you for your service to your country by sharing your story. It is in our stories that we find our similarities with each other.

    What you and Brandon did was courageous. I think that we’ve believed the myth that we allowed to be created, about how the military would fall apart if gays were allowed in. Things that get said over and over again often are accepted as truth, even if they’re wrong. The military can’t be much different than the non-military world: acceptance and tolerance about gays has grown in the non-military world, so why shouldn’t it have grown in the military world as well? It’s nice to read that there are wonderfully open-minded and accepting people in the military, despite what all the Crazy Haters would have us believe.

    Thank you again for sharing your story. I wish you and Brandon well in all your journeys!

    1. John
      I can’t speak for any branch other than the Navy but I know gay men (and women more recently) have been apart of the Navy for a very long time. During my time in the Navy (1994 – 1997) many of us knew of our gay shipmates. We didnt tolerate them, we didnt accept them – we saw them as a shipmate, part of the team, as brothers (I was stationed on male only ships so I really didnt know many female Sailors)

  18. Hello! I came across your blog thanks to Freshly pressed. There’s so much I could say but I doubt I’d be as eloquent and those that have left comments on your posts, BUT if its worth something to know, when I read that last paragraph on that moment you realized what you and Brandon had accomplished that night and you kissed him..my heart did a little victory jump and went “Yay!”. LOL. My sister is gay too..I mean she’s a lesbian. Has always known that she was since she was young. Maybe I grew up with the knowledge that my younger sister was what she was, or maybe its because I may have had a past life as a gay (I kid you not 😉 ) but, it’s just been something normal to me you know?
    No one put a gun to her head and said..Be gay or else..so for me its always been something normal. I talked to a gay buddy of mine once, and I suddenly realized that this discrimination of same sex relationships and just being who you are was really real…I still don’t comprehend why, but its there…and it makes me sad because all each one of us wants to do is to be who we truly are, nothing more and nothing less.
    Blessings and light to you and Brandon !
    And once again congratulations to the BOTH of you , individually and as a couple for not only successfully attending that Marine B’day Ball but also extending it and having a wonderful after – party party!

  19. Thank god for Freshly Pressed. What a treat it was to read your recap of the Ball–and such a personally (and nationally and socially) momentous one, too! I have to admit, I enjoyed reading your story more than I did the reports of Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis’ experiences this year. You and Brandon are both incredibly brave and are exemplary models by which I think we should all craft a new standard. Thank you for taking the time (energy and further courage) to share this with the world. It’s a shame that you have received some hateful words, but it’s sadly not surprising. But I think you and I might share a similar philosophy: love and positivity bests hatred and negativity every time. Good for you for choosing to retain the positive remarks and leaving the negative ones for the trash.

    Again, thank you. Thank you for your service in spite of unfair serving conditions. Thank you for your courage of conviction. Thank you for sharing Brandon’s personal courage with us. And thank you for taking the time to write your story. You and Brandon deserve all the happiness in the world, and I hope that with measures like the repealing of DADT, you both will be well on your way toward achieving that happiness.

    All the best,

  20. Thank you so much for the 4 part series. I’ve been wondering how the various branches have been doing with the repeal, and hearing a person’s individual story was really wonderful. I attended a Toys for Tots event this past weekend, but it’s hardly appropriate to walk up to a Marine and ask them “so how’s the DADT repeal going?”

    I’m the granddaughter of a 20+ year soldier, and I grew up next to (and on, as my family all worked there) a now decomissioned army base (Fort Devens, MA). As a bisexual woman who strongly considered joining the military when I was 18, I followed the DADT story from its inception when I was in high school through its repeal this year.

    Kudos to you and to Brandon and thank you again for sharing your story with your readers. I’m so glad that WordPress.com featured your blog, and that I now have another wonderful writer to follow.

  21. A great read, Sir. I’m glad DADT has ended, and I hope the new reality goes smoothly. We have had – as I’m sure you know – gay servicemen and women in the Canadian Forces for nearly 20 years now, and from my point-of-view it has worked well: I’ve never seen any issues arise – discipline, morale, or otherwise.

  22. I found your 4 part series from a Rachel Maddow Tweet today and I could not be happier for you. My husband was in the Marines for many years until he passed away earlier this summer. We were both very supportive of the repeal although he did not live to see it come to fruition. I wish you both continued support and happiness in your personal and professional lives. As someone else said, I hope your career in the Marines is as long as you want it to be. Oorah!

  23. Capt. Phelps,
    ………………… As a retired “Squid” who spent the last half of his career in San Diego, I would first like to say congratulations to you and Brandon for the successful “navigation” of the 236th Anniversary of the United States Marine Corps, with no “alternates”, and only one “diversion” – Bourbon Street. Used to be “Pecs”, back in the day (1983) before they moved to another location.

    Our “watering hole” used to be the Club 540 before it was torn down in the name of “progress”. Your four part post has brought back many wonderful memories. After thirty years in SOCAL, the expense of “just existing” was too much to bear for my meager “piggy bank”. In the Header Picture, the water in the background – the El Capitan Reservoir (?) – yes? It’s been sooo long, that one of these winters, I’m going to do my own personal “Occupy San Diego”, most likely in my Van, parked at the Denny’s on El Cajon Blvd. in North Park. I would consider it an honor and a privilege to meet up with you and Brandon someday.

    Feel free to check out my page here, and at foggydflyer.blogspot.com . As you will see, I am much better at painting with light than with words.

    “Bravo Zulu”, “FOGGY”

  24. I applaud you and Brandon’s strength! I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to go through the things you’ve endured thus far. Congrats and keep moving forward. I’m glad I’ve stumbled upon your blog and have now subscribed to it.

    Your attitude towards life, your ability to stay true to yourself and others, and the fact that you serve our country has truly inspired me. Keep it up!

  25. Matthew, glad you and Brandon had a GREAT Birthday Ball. Your fortitude and professionalism is inspiring. If stories like yours were the narrative that most people heard, there is hope for changing the character of the debate. I, for one, am glad the debate is over within the ranks itself. The profession and task at hand are still the same, regardless of who serves.

    As a career Soldier and a former company commander (albeit a decade ago), best of luck for a successful command and a great Marine career!

  26. I’m new here – I found you from a feature on the WordPress homepage – but I plan to be a regular reader and commenter (and I’ll probably be linking to you all over the place, too). Thanks for writing; I think it’s important to the cause of equality that real people tell their stories. I’m honored to be sharing in yours.

  27. Growing up I always dreamed of a career in the US Navy and following in my Grandfather’s footsteps. But never got the chance due to DADT and knowing how hard it would be to hide a part of me on a daily basis. I have so much respect for you and all of our service members that are not afraid to stand up for what is right!

  28. First, thank you for serving. Most of my family has been in one branch of service or another so I will never take your sacrifice lightly. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Everyone deserves to be happy and to be with the one they love.

  29. Like several others here, Matthew, I stumbled across your blog thanks to the “Freshly Pressed” page and I am SO glad I did. As for Brandon, I must admit that I read your 4-parter with a proud smirk on my face – “backwards and in heels” is a very familiar theme for an old drag queen, after all. LOL While I respect, honor, and love you for your service and fortitude I have to give Brandon full kudos for the grace with which he faced this new and (a bit) alien experience. I may never have met the two of you, but I know from far too many years of experience you are one very lucky Marine… he did you proud because he loves you.
    The Gods bless and keep you both, and may you grow old together in joy. (OK, so I’m a romantic sap – meh!)

  30. Matthew, Thank you for sharing your story with us on here. I served in the Army from 2002-2009 and I know what it is like to hide who you are and who you are with on a daily basis. I admire your dedication and service to our country. I have a strong saying that always helps me everyday “Friends will be there to talk you out of something stupid but battle buddies in the military will pull a 360 while you are doing it and cover your tracks.” I can honestly say if I was in the Marine Corps and I would have had your back through the rough times. You are a brave man and my hat goes off to you

  31. I am beyond inspired by both you and Brandon. What courage it took to face your fellow Marines with a date, and for Brandon to go with you openly, must have felt wonderful to finally be able to live your truth. You and Brandon certainly would’ve won most gorgeous couple, that’s for sure. I think that you really touched a lot of people at that ball by just being you, and I’m sure people appreciated your courage to be open. Bravo to the both of you!

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