First Openly Gay Cadets Graduate at the Air Force Academy
When President Obama gave the commencement address at the Air Force Academy yesterday, he mentioned by name an immigrant from Venezuela whose dream came true as he graduated from the Academy.
However, except for mentioning human rights and human dignity a couple of times, the President did not directly recognize or address another group of graduating cadets.
You see, eight months after the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, the sky has not fallen — as some gloomily predicted — and the U.S. Air Force Academy graduated its first group of openly gay cadets yesterday, according to ABC News.
And everything went smoothly, both during the graduation ceremony and throughout the period after the repeal.
Mentioning that no rainbow flags could be seen on display and that the LGBT students couldn’t be picked out of the crowd of white and blue, the ABC report says this:
But gay and lesbian advocates, academy alums, school officials and current students said they were there.
“The whole thing is we don’t want to be identified as anything different,” said Trish Heller, who heads the Blue Alliance, an association of LGBT Air Force Academy alumni. “We want to serve, to be professional and to be symbols of what it means to be Air Force Academy graduates.”
“It’s just been really open, a lot of acceptance. I haven’t heard anyone say, ‘I hate this. I can’t serve in the military with this,’” said 3rd Class Cadet Kevin Wise, a second-year management major. “It’s a sense of ‘OK, this is their lifestyle, but they’re still the person I’ve spent 21 credit hours a semester next to or I’ve gone through this with,’” he said.
Acacia Miller, a sophomore from Shreveport, La., praised the school’s leadership for setting the right tone before the repeal. “They did a good job preparing us. There were lots of briefings about it. They stated how the military was going to go forward with it, how we should act. It was pretty much just like any other repeal, segregation, all that stuff. We just got told this is what’s going to happen and we all need to be adults about it,” she said.
“Basically, it was just another day when DADT was repealed,” said Air Force Academy spokesman John Van Winkle. “No big changes, no real growing pains. Most of American society has become much more accepting of the LGBT community over the years since President Clinton made the forward-thinking choice in the early ’90s to go from a strict no-gay policy to DADT.”
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