Journal Entry

Today is my 70th birthday. Reflecting back who knew the different challenges I would face being a gay man. There is so much I have overcome, but still much more work to do for gay rights. Fifty years ago, I enlisted in the Army. I served and defended my country with pride and determination through the Vietnam War. I dreamed of retiring from the United States Army. I was three years shy of obtaining my goal, because I fell in love with a man. I met Henry in 1974. We maintained a secretive relationship. Back in 1974 there were no Gay Pride celebrations, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Centers (LGBT) or gay communities. It was not appropriate to talk about your love life if you were homosexual. Henry and I were being discrete about our relationship.

In 1976 I was discharged from the Army; apparently we were not as discrete as we thought. My paperwork was stamped with dishonorable discharge. I stood before Henry humiliated, dumbfounded and deeply sadden with the question of why and no words coming from my mouth. Henry showed me great compassion and comforted me in my time of anguish. In that I moment I knew we were going to share our life together.

Being discharged dishonorably meant no retiree benefits, VA loans to help with housing or GI bill to assist with school. All of it came to an end and I had to accept it. There were times where I felt lost with no direction. Eventually, I was able to move forward with my life. I enrolled in the local community college and from there I attended UCLA to receive my bachelor degree. At 41 years old, I was entering the workforce outside of the United States Army and it was foreign to me. With the help of Henry, I was able to spread my wings and became a successful businessman. I retired at the age of 66.

As the years past by, gay rights became more predominate. In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association took homosexuality off the list of mental disorders. In 1993 Bill Clinton signs into law “Don’t Ask, Don’t...