Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It’s Better

Here is one of the best things about the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Shortly after midnight Tuesday in his bedroom at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, Randy Phillips set up his web camera, dialed his cellphone and called his father in Alabama.

“Can I tell you something?” Phillips, 21, asked, with the camera rolling. “Will you love me, serious? Like, you’ve always loved me, as long as I live?”

“Yes,” his father said.

His voice dropping, Phillips told him: “Dad, I’m gay.”

“Yikes,” his father replied.

“I still love you, and I will always love you, and I will always be proud of you,” his father said later.

This is what the end of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy brought — hundreds, if not thousands of quiet, personal exchanges between family, friends and supportive colleagues who long suspected they knew. Some took to podiums on Capitol Hill or attended parties and “coming out” ceremonies. Military officials reported no incidents or increase in activity at military recruitment stations.

This is why the end of DADT is more than just the end of a bad law. It is touching families and friends in the most personal way.

Speaking as someone who came to terms with being openly gay more than thirty years ago and having been blessed with parents, family and friends whose love and support I never doubted, all I can say to Randy Phillips and the countless others who are coming out, it does get better, and I’m really glad to have you on our team.