Gay students at America's military
service academies ending the first year without “Don't Ask, Don't
Tell” have described a smooth transition.
The policy, which ended in September,
for 18 years threatened to end the military careers of gay students
who did not hide their sexual orientation.
“For the most part, it allows us to
be a complete person, as opposed to compartmentalizing our lives into
different types of boxes,” Air force 2nd Lt. Dan Dwyer,
who graduated from the Air Force Academy this week, told the AP.
Cadets for the first time could take a
same sex date to official events.
Andrew Atwill, a student at the U.S.
Naval Academy in Annapolis, and his boyfriend, Nick Bonsall together
attended Saturday's Ring Dance, an annual formal ball for third-year
“It's been really great, actually,”
Bonsall, 20, told The
Baltimore Sun. “Everyone has been really accepting of us.”
The couple told the AP
that they were fully accepted at the event.
“Because they made us feel so
comfortable for going to the dance with each other, we didn't have to
worry about any negative consequences,” Atwill said.
West Point cadet Kaitlyn Kelly attended
with her girlfriend a Knights Out event in March marking the 100 days
before graduation. Knights Out is the gay alumni group which first
came to national attention in 2009 when Army Lt. Dan Choi promoted
the group on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. The appearance
led to his eventual discharge.
It was the first official event Kelly,
22, and her civilian girlfriend attended as a couple.
“It was a remarkable thing for me,
because I had taken her to previous things … but I had to do the
ambiguous, 'Oh, she's my best friend,'” she said.
“My friends and I, we were so
relieved that we didn't have to worry about that. Where we might not
have necessarily worried about it 100 percent, it was still something
in the back of your mind that you kind of always have to watch your
step,” said Kelly.