On the path forward

As I’ve been saying for the past several days, the response to my blog posts last week has been incredible. I am absolutely touched and inspired by all the positive comments I’ve received and continue to receive. I think at this point there are over 500 positive comments on the various pages, and you can see the wide range of people who have been touched by this story. I mentioned in a previous post that I wasn’t going to post negative comments. Surprisingly there have been few, and none worth your time even to read.

For example, several were from the same person who left his phone number (among misspellings and grammar errors in all caps) and dared me to call him and tell him I’m gay. Something tells me the conversation wouldn’t be very enlightening:

“Hello, I’m the gay guy you gave your number to.”
“That it?”

One comment I couldn’t tell if it was a joke so I erred on the side of people taking it seriously rather than ironically and left it out. It just said, “This is so gay.” Well, duh. That’s the point.

I’ve been asked by some people if I intend to start doing media appearances now, and I’m contemplating writing a book (or maybe something shorter, like a Kindle Single). The command has given me their full support and encouraged me to do whatever I feel is right. At this point, I’m not inclined to do much more than keep writing here, partially because that night was just one night and I already told the story and partially because I see myself as a career-oriented Marine and I have a lot more to do in my career beyond this. As I said to someone in an email this morning, I can’t wait until taking a date to the ball isn’t considered news.

All that being said, though, it’s clear that Brandon and my night at the ball is something people want to read and hear about. Should it be news? No, but it is. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, queers, dykes, fags, homos, and the otherwise not-entirely-straight among us have spent decades (if not centuries) being ignored, harassed, arrested, abused, assaulted, and killed just for being who they are. So it is a big deal when we can just be like everyone else and go on a date to a special event with a special person.

I am not an activist, I am a Marine. I do what I believe is right, and that which serves my sworn oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. I believe that repealing DADT was the right thing to do, and that doing so strengthened our military and our nation. I also believe that the fear and hesitation people had were unfounded, and my story is proof. I intend to work personally and professionally to ensure the transition to a post-DADT military continues to be a smooth one, and now that there are openly gay service members all over the world we will be able to assist our military in moving forward and growing stronger.

I’m therefore going to ask you to help me out by forwarding, retweeting, facebooking, and emailing the link to everyone. I would love for more people to pick up the story so we can reach even more. It’s important that young people know it gets better, that veterans know their hardships were not in vain, that victims of assault and abuse are remembered, and that those who would prevent us from achieving equality are corrected in their perception that there is something less or abnormal about us.

Please keep writing and posting comments. I promise I’m reading them–as is everyone else.

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.

26 thoughts on “On the path forward”

  1. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe you, or the amazing things you’ve done in the manner that you’ve done them…

  2. When the Family Research Council, NOM or some other bona fide Christianist hate group (The SPLC’s list is here: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2010/winter/the-hard-liners) mentions you or rails on you on their blog or in public, you’ll know you’ve arrived. Look forward to that day. Your exemplary record will trump their ill-informed rhetoric. Your heartfelt recounting of what you’ve done and how you have handled this will soar over their weak arguments. You are the model of the present and the future. They are the remnant of a failed ideology.

  3. Matthew, this isn’t for posting, this is a message for you. You absolutely should write a book, and I’m telling you it won’t be that difficult. I’m the author of four, which you can see on my site, and I’ll help you do it. Much of the heavy lifting is organizing the outline/concept. I can certainly help with that. There are many ways to structure it. Once you have that down, the writing is infinitely easier. You already have your style, the book’s voice– first person, speaking directly to the reader; the genre is memoir but the book should, I think, go beyond that in parts to talk about the Marine Corps, a bit of its history. Some of it is your family, your growing up, which is to say telling the reader who you are. Some of it is your experience on deployment. Some is simply your opinions, believe it or not; we also want to know who you are today. I think the book can easily be built around taking Brandon to the ball.

    I have one of the best agents in the business at one of the most powerful agencies, Eric Simonoff at WME– google him– and we’ll help you out. You have my email, my cell is 646 896 9145. Take a look at my Wikipedia entry to get a concise understanding of me. I was at The New York Times for the past 5 years. Write or call any time. It’s not just me, brother. It’s ALL of us, everyone who’s written you and the hundreds and hundreds of others who haven’t who believe in this book. You know that. It’s important.

  4. Shared via Facebook – check.
    Shared via Twitter – just checked.
    Funny (weird) and sad thing: Sodomy is considered a felony in my country and they don’t care if it’s consensual or not, but the gay community is very real in the country too. And big. There was a movement called “Sexual Independence” done for a few years with no hassles from the police or politicians until they decided to get some political figure involved…d’oh. Asked a gay buddy of mine…and he said…they should have just let it be. On the whole the community is left alone with the politicians and police closing an eye…we can’t expect more.
    If only people just concentrated on being nice and good…life would be so much simpler…

    1. Okay this is so me….I should have phrased it as “same sex relationships” or something..sigh..WP really needs to give us an option to edit our own replies! I actually Wikipedia-ed “sodomy” just to see what sort of boo-boo I made..seems like it might have been quite a boo-boo..I think..if it was..so very sorry!

  5. “I can’t wait until taking a date to the ball isn’t considered news.”


    Also? I LOVED your “That it?” comment. My sister works with troubled teens, and she’s always amused when one of them comes up with “dyke” as an epithet. Her stock response is “really? THAT’S the best you’ve got? You understand that’s the same as calling me a redhead, right? Duh.” Takes the wind right out of their sails.

    I’m right next to you, talking and teaching and blogging and tweeting and facebooking. I truly believe that, in this, at least, we progressives are winning.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story with the world. While it might not be news, it’s certainly a message of HOPE for many young Americans.

  7. well, I agree with your decision to keep your focus on being a Marine and doing your job. The best thing about the repeal of DADT will be all of the energy that is freed up for you to direct elsewhere than keeping that secrecy. On your off time, I think you do have something important to say and I’d encourage you to do some writing in addition to what you are sharing here. Whether it develops into a book, or magazine feature, or whatever else – get your thoughts and feelings out there and don’t diminish or downplay what you can gift to others by your writing. There are and will be plenty of critics – thank you also for purging these comments of those people’s negativity, I wish more people would killfile them rather than giving them another platform to spread their ignorance and mindless hatred. Guess I dated myself with that term, I haven’t typed it in years…

  8. Dear Matthew,
    The whole experience you’ve had, as well as your highly articulate account of it, is in my opinion clear evidence not merely of unusually strong character and sincere dedication, but also of great talent for writing more generally and for clear insight into human social circumstances. In light of that, what you’re proposing to do as a result your coming-out and your blog experiences strikes me as a plan for great success and further accomplishment. The single most liberating idea I’ve encountered in my long life is this: “All doors are open; each is an exit and an entrance, we have but to choose and and walk through the one that beckons.” Join this idea to another: “Never wait at a barrier,” and you cannot fail. Best wishes, whatever you choose. This I know, the world needs you, never more than right now. — With affection and high regard, Jess

  9. I am a former Navy enlisted man and a victim of DADT. What you’ve done and what you’re doing are truly amazing. I enjoyed reading your blog about the Ball. It brought tears to my eyes. (My boyfriend calls me a marshmallow…which I probably am!)

    On behalf of all of the former soldiers/sailors/Marines out there, I salute you! I wish I could have seen this happen during my service…and could have continued to serve…I’ll just have to live through you now!

  10. You are an activist. Protecting and serving your country is a form of activism, and you do that in more ways than the typical Marine. That said, I will link to your post and pass along the message.

    I, too, am eager for the day when a gay couple going on a public date isn’t a big deal. And I especially relished your imagined phone conversation. It had the “Zing!” factor, if you know what I mean.

    I hope you will write a book sometime. I can tell you’re a very humble man, and that’s a good thing. But if over 500 people believe you are a brilliant writer and an inspiration, I think then you can take them at their word.

    Best wishes.

  11. Thank you for clarifying that you, as a person, are a synergy of many things, not just your sexual orientation or your job. That dynamic description will do far more in the fight against descrimination than being “a gay Marine.”

  12. First, I know I am just a Military Wife and not actually a Marine like you or my husband but OORAH! I am hard headed, opinionated, and outspoken…you, yourself, as a Marine know that those are qualities that the people associated with the Marine Corps should not have. My husband tells me all the time that I would make the worst Marine in history. Having read some of your blog (this one and the last in particular) I can prove him wrong. ^_^ I don’t see a difference in loving someone of the same sex or of the opposite sex. Love is Love. They start out by saying that Love has no place in the military but then go on to talk about how important family is…you have a right to your family too and I am over-joyed that you not only see that but are so open and passionate about it. ((“They say if you love someone, let them go, I say FUCK THAT! If I love someone, I’m going to hell and back to get them if I have to.” ~Anon.)) Who you love, dose not effect the content of your character…one day everyone will see that, stop being so afraid and be more accepting, but NOT without people like you. You are amazing! …I would be blessed to be even half of what you are. Don’t even lose that heart you have…ever!

  13. I found you on WordPress’s Freshly Pressed page and am so glad you wrote about your time at the ball because I never would’ve known about it otherwise! It didn’t make any news that I saw, so I’m really glad you made it news here 🙂 It’s important!

    And if you don’t mind…totally loving the uniform 😀

  14. Hey Matthew. I do understand you are not an activist but sometimes the greatest things we accomplish in life happen we are not try to accomplish anything. Sorry that may seem a little profound.

    Keep your courage up. Doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest thing to do. And just so you know, I’m not gay. Like so many other non-gays, it really doesn’t matter to me whether you’re gay, not gay, or any thing else. I respect you for who you are. You are a Marine. You served your country with honor. That speaks volumes of who you are. I served in the Navy during DADT. I was a Corpsman. There were gays I served with in the Navy and Marine Corps that didn’t have to say they were gay. We knew and accepted that. On one command, they called me Doc Breeder. And it just didn’t matter. What mattered was, will they be there when I need them. Based on what I have read, you would have my back! Thank you!!!!

  15. Definitely keep writing and putting the word out there. I have been telling all my friends and passing the word along too. I am happy to tell anyone I know. I don’t want my son to grow up being afraid. Thank you for all you are doing.

  16. In an effort to spread the word about your journey and stories I have nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award. While the protocol states this particular award be given to people with less than 200 followers (I’m assuming by the extremely explosive popularity you’ve gained throughout your recent posts, you have well over 200 followers), I decided to nominate you anyway. In fact, I nominated you before this post simply because I think people need to be aware of your story.

    Please visit my blog at jcdickerson.wordpress.com for further details on accepting the nomination and the protocol for passing on the award. Great job! Your stories and posts are very inspirational and touching!

  17. Your story is inspirational. Not only that you chose to put your service before your personal needs (i.e. pre DADT) but also your willingness to come out now that DADT is abolished. One day people will thank the brave men and women who come out in the military today because it will mean they are protected in future.

    I wish you safety in your deployments.

  18. ““` Thank you for your service. You speak here of your oath to the Constitution; I swore that identical oath, too—four times, in fact. And I believe that that Constitution we both swore to protect and defend is an organic extension of the very best of American society, will, and growth; and so grows with us. Many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence staunchly desired that it, and the Constitution that in time followed, should recognize all races as human beings, and equal; and absolutely mandate that every aspect of American life recognize and support that. It didn’t happen. It couldn’t: not then. It took the Civil War to begin to set that right. Then the long fight for Universal Suffrage . . . then Stonewall and its ensuing steps, some backwards, more forwards. “We stand on the shoulders of giants,” and so will our collective grandchildren, and theirs. All along, as time passes and the world gradually improves, our understanding as a People evolves and expands what a civil right IS. And who should have it. Eventually every human being will have every right imagineable, including ones we can not now foresee, just as the Signers did not foresee today’s anti-bullying groundswell. Every person will have every right—and we will have created the Jubilee right here on Earth, in these United States, and in every other culture and society that sees what we have, and admires us, and emulates us. Won’t that be amazing? And it WILL happen; in fact it’s happening right now. It’s in the headlines (like the ones you make,) and history is nothing more than or less than a judicious compilation of headlines, and the facts they represent. Thank you for providing some of those facts!

  19. I randomly came across your blog yesterday and I must say, you are SUCH an inspiration! I am a proud Army wife of nearly 7 years. I can’t explain how angry I get when I hear about how gay men and women in the military are treated differently and often treated harshly because of their sexual orientation. You are no different than anyone else in this world. You love who you love and you aren’t afraid of that … that is more than some people can say! I say bravo for having the courage to be who you are, bravo for not feeling the need to hide, bravo for not being afraid to love. You have my utmost respect not only for your selfless service to our country but also for being proud to continue to serve the country with people who don’t always support you. Never apologize for who you are. Keep writing! “Imagine all the people, living life in peace …. You may say that I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one.”

  20. I am always impressed by the amount of courage in face of adversity displayed by Marines – your story is so amazing and describes genuine personal integrity and courage. Officers lead by example and your strength by just being an excellent Marine sets the standard throughout your command. Thank you.

  21. I am very fortunate to work (and live) where I am accepted as I am. All of my colleagues know that I am gay and we laugh and joke about it. No one is threatened by that simple fact. Thank you for sharing your story and reminding me how grateful I am each day for what I have. Take Care.

  22. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences at the Marine Corps Ball with Brandon. I went to 3 of those alone as a Lance Corporal stationed at K-Bay with 3/3 (0311 Infantry) 99-01. I lived through the witch hunts, the abuse, the 1st sgt. staring at me in formation talking about fags, the death threats, the constant fear, and much more. I dreamed of being able to live through what you were able to experience. I wanted to be a drill instructor more than anything. A single rumor ended that dream. I’m beyond happy you’re able to live that dream now as a free and open Marine. I’d really love to hear more if you’re willing to share. Thank you for showing and living the most time honored values of the Marine Corps. Honor. Courage. Commitment.

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