Anyone who knows me also knows that I’m self-confident. I’m intelligent, I’m honest (sometimes brutally), and I will sacrifice anything–short of my integrity–for people and causes who need my help. I am willing to learn, I challenge people, and I expect people to challenge me in return, because I know the result will be better and clearer understanding. These things make me who I am, and they make me a good Marine. In fact, they make me good at just about everything I do, and they are the same things that drive me to work harder, do more, and push those around me to do the same. Even equipped with this knowledge of myself, I struggle to maintain the level of strength it takes to meet the challenges I face on a daily basis as an openly gay Marine.
Such a wonderful night for us, and it’s received so much attention on Facebook (here and here), Reddit, imgur, BuzzFeed, Gawker, and Towleroad! Really, the only thing on my mind was making it a memorable and unforgettable night for Ben. Thank you all for the well wishes!!
There are a few reasons why, at this point in my career, I’m looking to transfer overseas to Japan, despite the challenges it will present in terms of my family and relationship.
First, I have spent the better part of my ten years in the Marine Corps thus far in Southern California (minus school on the east coast and a deployment to Iraq in 2007-08), so the option to stay in Southern California is not open to me right now. The Marine Corps encourages moving around, partially to broaden the experience in officers, and partially because it isn’t fair to let only a few of us get all the great duty stations. In the Marine Corps, we have, essentially, three options when it comes to major geographical areas where we can be stationed: West Coast (Southern California), East Coast (North Carolina), and Okinawa, Japan (Note: There are other assignments in other places, but the vast majority of duty stations are in these three places). I have between little and no desire to spend any more time than required in North Carolina, so Japan is the next best option for me.
In May 2013, I will finish my assignment at Marine Corps University and execute orders to my next duty station. I am hoping to be assigned to Japan, but this is going to bring with it many challenges in terms of my relationship with Ben. We are going to document all of the work as we face this challenge, to include people we talk to, the documents we need, the legal issues we will face with DOMA, and post some tips for those who will inevitably follow in our path later. I’ll be tagging those posts specially so you can find them at a glance, and Ben will even be writing some. Stay tuned to follow the tales of our (mis)adventures!
My big coming out was at the Pentagon last June at the first official LGBT Pride Month event. You can check out the video at C-SPAN (my part begins at 36:20). Still, on this day, I thought I would take a minute to express my pride in those fellow service members–both LGBT and our straight allies–who express their support for equality.
I will also take a brief moment to encourage those who are on the fence to come out. It’s a personal decision, to be sure, but it’s a decision that is based on integrity rather than fear. Coming out is not only personally liberating, but it’s an inspiration to those around you who need to know that we’re here, in every community, in every family, and deserve exactly the same rights to live our lives and pursue our dreams.
This week I will relinquish command of my company in preparation of my move to the East Coast for my next assignment as a student at the Expeditionary Warfare School in Quantico, Virginia. As I prepare to move, I have taken some time to reflect on my year in command and think about what will come next.
My grandfather died today. I don’t have much to say except he was the inspiration to my service.
Donald W. van Buren was a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He served in World War II as a B-17G “Flying Fortress” pilot in the 860th Bombardment Squadron, 493 Bombardment Group, 8th Army Air Corps. Arriving in England in late April 1945, he flew aid missions out of RAF Debach (Ipswich, England), dropping food and relief items primarily in the Netherlands where supply routes had been cut off by the German Army. After the war ended in the European Theater, he redeployed back to the United States and was to train on B-29 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to fly in the Pacific Theater, but after the end of the war with Japan the unit was deactivated.