Veteran Rob Smith believes coming out
gay to a few friends in the U.S. Army kept him safe in Iraq.
Smith appeared on HuffPost Live to
discuss his book Closets,
Combat and Coming Out: Coming of Age As A Gay Man In The Don't Ask,
Don't Tell Army.
Smith explained that he faced gay slurs
as a 17-year-old recruit.
“The book starts with that very first
day of basic training,” Smith said. “You know, I'm basically
fresh off the bus. I am different in so many ways in that place and
time. I'm the only black soldier, you know, I may be a little gay,
whatever, but I'm having this barked in my face, and I get that in my
face, like, immediately from the drill sergeant.”
Smith added that he came out to his
best friend Howard – not his real name – the night before they
shipped off to Iraq.
“And so we just talked that whole
night about being gay, about being afraid to go to Iraq, about this
guy that just broke my heart and all this other stuff,” he said.
“And what I found [was] that through coming out to him we were able
to have a stronger bond and that bond was something that I think kept
me safe and kept me alive when I actually did deploy.” (The video
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