Two Years after DADT’s End, Work Remains to Ensure Transgender Servicemembers Can Serve Openly

Two years ago today, on September 20, 2011, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was officially repealed. The discriminatory and stigmatizing 1994 policy that barred lesbian, gay, and bisexual servicemembers from serving openly in the military has had a damaging impact on the strength of the armed forces during one of the most dangerous military times in a generation. As a result of DADT, more than 13,500 women and men were discharged from the military because of their sexual...


Part 11: The Repeal: No One Left Behind

By Huong T. Nguyen NCLR Guest Columnist Saturday, December 18, 2010. It’s 8:30 a.m., and I am still in bed. I hear footsteps hurriedly coming up the stairs. My bedroom door slams open, and a big mass lands on my body. Thromp! I open one eye and see my earnest 5-year-old son, Rowan, staring intently down at me. He whispers, “Mommy, wake up, they are voting to move the bill. ~~~ It’s only been three hours since I succumbed to sleep. I was keeping a vigil. I had a crazy idea that the repeal of...


Finale: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: In the Olden Days

By Huong T. Nguyen NCLR Guest Columnist At the beginning of this school year, Rowan, my 6-year-old son, held court in his first-grade class about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). The unprompted conversation with his classmates went something like this: Rowan: My mom was in the military. Classmates: Really? Rowan: Yeah, but she was kicked out because she was gay. (His peers gathered around to hear his tale.) One classmate: No, I don’t believe you! Rowan: No, really, I saw her uniform! In the...


Part 10: There’s A Place for Us

By Huong T. Nguyen NCLR Guest Columnist Year: 2010 The girl became my wife. Sixteen years after we first met, Alison and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and are proud parents of two wonderful boys. Two years ago, we were legally married in her parents’ backyard, surrounded by our closest friends and family. We had the unique joy of sharing that milestone with our children. ~~~ In 1997, the military discharged me without any characterization—meaning, neither honorable nor dishonorable....


Part Nine: The Story

By Huong T. Nguyen NCLR Guest Columnist Whoa! That’s my life, not news. Don’t print it. But the school newspaper reporter argues: “We’re going to, with or without your consent. Your story is important to the debate about ROTC’s presence on campus in view of the school’s nondiscrimination policy.” Okay, I’ll give you the story, but I need some time to tell my family first. ~~~ How can I tell my Vietnamese family that their daughter is gay AND an utter failure? One or the other would be hard...


Part Eight: The Trial

By Huong Nguyen NCLR Guest Columnist Year: 1995 I’m at my Army Reserve unit, in a windowless, closet-sized conference room. The walls are painted mustard yellow. The florescent lights, unnaturally bright. A small, government-issued table, with four chairs, sits in the middle of the room. I’m in a chair facing the door. I don’t want anyone to approach me from behind. I’m in fight mode. It started a month ago. I can recall the events with a searing clarity.  ~~~ There is a movie scene in “A Few...


Part Seven: The Truth Will Set You Free

By Huong T. Nguyen NCLR Guest Columnist Year: 1995 After an hour and a half of grilling me about my relationship with a male cadet, the major allows me to leave. “Aaarrrggghhh!” I let out a roar from the depths of my soul. I’m crazy mad and full of adrenaline. I want to bite the major’s head off, chew it up, and spit it on the ground. The bastard! How could he do that to me? I have worked so hard for this place. When I get back to my dorm room, the girl is there. One look at me, and she keeps...


Part Six: No Air

By Huong T. Nguyen NCLR Guest Columnist Year: 1995 My American dream is turning into a nightmare. I’m sitting in a major’s office, being grilled about an alleged “interpersonal problem” with a male cadet. A few days ago, that cadet and I had a knock-down, drag-out argument in front of the entire battalion. It was over his refusal to follow orders to prepare for a field training exercise. I couldn’t let his challenge of my authority go unchecked in front of everyone. But that’s insubordination,...


Part Five: The Girl

By Huong T. Nguyen NCLR Guest Columnist Year: 1995 Oh. My. God! The girl, she’s in my bed. How did this happen? ~~~ I first met her several months ago in 1994. We worked in the same dormitory— I, a resident assistant, she, a program assistant. She was shy and quiet, at least around me. I paid little attention to her, because we didn’t work directly together. Until one day, she rocked my world, literally. She made an announcement at our weekly dormitory staff meeting. “Hi, everyone. We’re...


Part Four: The Education of Private Nguyen

By Huong Nguyen NCLR Guest Columnist Year: 1994 “Gaydar? What’s that?” They smile knowingly, my dormitory co-workers. “The camos and boots are part of my job. Look, I have long curly hair. I wear makeup, dresses, high heels. And, I’m engaged to marry a dude.” Now giggling, they claim gaydar is more than that—it detects an aura, a quality. I throw up my hands sarcastically, “Yup, that explains it all.” We had just spent the entire afternoon learning about gay culture. The purpose of the class...


Protecting our Future. Donate Now!