Joseph Rocha Didn’t Tell, Yet He Paid the Price
As freethinking Americans, we all have our own thoughts and opinions about homosexuals and homosexuality; about same-sex marriages and same-sex unions; about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and about so many other related issues.
As Americans, we are fortunate that we can express our opinions freely on these issues in healthy, sometimes argumentative and emotional debates, as we often see on TMV.
Sometimes we catch a lot of flak for expressing our opinions, but that comes with the territory. When all is said and done, when the debate is over—and perhaps as a result of the debate—as Americans we have the luxury of changing our opinion a little bit, a whole lot, or not to give a single inch.
I have frequently expressed my opinions on our present policy of allowing gays and lesbians to serve in our armed forces as long as they keep their sexual orientation secret. In other words, allow them to serve as long as they deny and betray part of their own being.
This post, however, is not intended to discuss the merits or perils of such a policy, although I am sure they will be discussed.
Neither is it intended to discuss whether homosexuality is a choice or whether there is a genetic linkage to sexual orientation, although I am sure this will be addressed.
The sole purpose of this post is to bring to the readers’ attention an article that appeared this weekend in the Washington Post.
The article is written by a 23-year-old young man, Joseph Rocha, who joined the Navy when he was 18.
Rocha loves his country and served meritoriously in the Middle East. He worked with dogs trained to detect explosives for 12 hours a day in 112-degree heat with 85 percent humidity, to keep those explosives and insurgents out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Because of his qualifications and performance, Rocha was selected to attend preparatory school for the Naval Academy and an eventual commission in the Navy.
There was, however, one little problem. Rocha happened to be gay.
What happened to this young man because he is gay, because he wanted to serve his country so badly, because he wanted to have the same rights as everyone else, is a tale of absolute horror, injustice, shame, and, yes, just plain bigotry.
Some will say that Rocha shouldn’t have joined the Navy in the first place, “under false pretenses.”
Perhaps. But what happened to Joseph Rocha, in my opinion (others may think differently) cannot be excused, condoned or rationalized under any circumstances.
Please read “I Didn’t Tell. It Didn’t Matter,” a story of a young American whose only wish was to serve his country and whose only “problem” is that he is gay.