Segment Synopsis: Goddard-Graves's father was in the Army and when he retired when she was four years old they moved to Germany, where she grew up. They decided to return to the states and settled in Washington because it reminded them most of Germany. Goddard-Graves attended college for criminal justice at the University of Washington. She decided that she wanted to pursue a career in the military and chose the Air Force, partially because her father made her promise not to join the Army. She enlisted in the Air Force in 1999 at the age of 21. She talks about her initial experiences and why she enjoyed the work. She also describes how a question about her sexuality during her enlistment made her feel uncomfortable.
Keywords: B-2 bomber; Criminal justice; Germany; Louisville (Ky.); Recruiting and enlistment; U-2 (Reconnaissance aircraft); United States. Air Force.; University of Washington
Subjects: Childhood; Enlistment; Military heritage
Map Coordinates: 47.6155248,-122.3657382
Segment Synopsis: Goddard-Graves met a group of LGBT individuals while at Beale AFB and found herself drawn to them, but things didn't really start to fall into place until she me someone in Saudi Arabia and fell in love. While in Saudi Arabia she came out to her family in a letter, giving them time to process the information before she came home. She talks about how the group of LGBT individuals would meet in secret in one airmen's room, which was an introduction to how careful she would need to be. She also discusses living on the Prince Sultan Airbase, being on the bombs squad, dangerous situations, and working with third country nationals.
Keywords: Beale Air Force Base (Calif.); Bomb squads; Gay military personnel--United States; Prince Sultan Air Base (Saudi Arabia); United States. Air Force. Security Service
Subjects: Coming out; Keeping secrets; Third country nationals; Working in the bomb squad
Map Coordinates: 24.0627894,47.5618523
Segment Synopsis: Goddard-Graves met someone who worked a different job in the military fairly soon after her arrival in Saudi Arabia and connected instantly.She felt conflicted about being in love and not being able to tell people about it. Her girlfriend was married to another airman in order to disguise being gay. Goddard-Graves also had a friend who helped her explained where she was when she was spending time with her LGBT friends. She understood that the relationship was short-term because she was only going to be in country four months but she still longed for more time to enjoy the relationship and probess everything. She talks about how her life finally came together and the excitement of the intrigue.
Keywords: Gay military personnel--United States; Prince Sultan Air Base (Saudi Arabia); United States. Air Force. Security Service
Subjects: New relationships
Map Coordinates: 24.0627894,47.5618523
Segment Synopsis: Goddard-Graves felt coming back to the states was like coming back to a new, scary world. After joining the military straight and returning to Beale AFB gay, she had no one to turn to. She felt it was very lonely, but was able to reconnect with her family and find out they were very supportive of her.
She decided to go to an LGBT club in Sacramento alone, and since she couldn't ask anywhere she new, she stopped at a gas station and asked an individual she thought might be gay. There she meets a woman, starts a new relationship, and takes the big step of revealing she is in the military.
Keywords: Beale Air Force Base (Calif.)
Subjects: Dating; SERE; Survival, Evasion, Resistance And Escape
Map Coordinates: 39.1086142,-121.3916709
Segment Synopsis: A Sergeant on the Security Force starts asking questions about Goddard-Graves's off-base activities and was rumored to have pictures of her, which scared her. She was nominated for recognition, and she recalls hearing about a conversation in which this Sergeant questioned how she would get a commendation so early in her career. This started a line of questioning into her personal life that began to scare her, and she started to examine what would happen and how she might be reprimanded for being LGBT in the Armed Forces. She decides to make the hard choice to out herself and seek an honorable discharge rather than be caught and risk a dishonorable discharge. She writes a letter to her first sergeant, but he says they can just tear it up, but she decides to continue because he can't protect her if she is outed. Goddard-Graves discusses this hard decision, the admission on her discharge papers, and her personal life immediately after. She returns to college but because she was discharged short of two years she doesn't get the GI Bill.
Keywords: Military discharge; Nevada; Pierce College (Wash.); United States. Montgomery G.I. Bill
Subjects: Coming out; Honorable Discharge; Investigation
Map Coordinates: 47.1570253,-122.2732815
Segment Synopsis: Goddard-Graves moves with her girlfriend to Nevada but ultimately they break up, partially from the strain leaving the military put on their relationship. She returns to her parents in Washington and goes back to school. Her parents decide to move back to Tennessee, where her dad is from, and she goes with them. She goes back to college at Austin Peay State University for a degree in psychology. Here she meets her partner and they decide to move to Owensboro, Kentucky. They came to Columbus looking for diversity and ended staying because of all the great people they've met. Goddard-Graves talks about her life after the military and how it lead her to Columbus, meeting her partner, and how she feels about her experiences in the Air Force now.
Keywords: Austin Peay State University; Clarksville (Tenn.); Columbus (Ohio); Owensboro (Ky.); Psychology
Subjects: Back to school; Looking back; Meeting her partner; Moving
Map Coordinates: 36.53498,-87.3548855
TP: Today is Monday July 13th 2015. My name is Ty Pierce. I'll be interviewingChristina Goddard-Graves about her experience as a member of the United States Air Force. With me is Ben Rottersmann. This interview is being conducted at the Ohio History Center in Columbus, Ohio. The interview is part of an oral history project by the Ohio History Connection to preserve the stories and experiences of service members and their family members for future generations. Miss Goddard-Graves, for the record, would you please say and spell your full name.
CG: My name is Christina Goddard-Graves C-H-R-I-S-T-I-N-A G-O-D-D-A-R-D-G-R-A-V-E-S.
TP: What's your date of birth and where were you born?
CG: 3/27/77. I was born in Louisville, Kentucky.
TP: Can you describe your early childhood?
CG: Sure. Well, my dad retired from the military when I was four years old. Heserved 20 years in the army and my Mom is from Germany. So when I was four, we all moved to Germany. And there is a 10-12 year age difference between my brother and sister and myself. They went through the American school system. I went through the German school system. German is actually my first language. When I was 17, we all made a family decision to move back to the States and my brother at the time suggested that we'd like Washington State because it reminded him most of Germany. And so we moved to Washington State.
TP: You were 17 at that time?
TP: Had you finished school yet?
CG: Yes. You graduate high school when you're 15, 16 years old. I actually00:02:00started a program as a dental assistant and my parents had asked me if I wanted to continue and finish that because it takes three years or if I wanted to go to the States and go to college. I was really intrigued going to school and basically studying anything that you wanted to study. So I was really excited about that.
BR: Then coming to the States with this interest in furthering your education,what got you interested in joining the military?
CG: Good question. I started off studying criminal justice. And I've alwaysplayed with the idea of joining the military just hearing stories from my Dad. The only promise I had to make him was that I wouldn't join the army because he said they micromanage more. So I decided on the Air Force, which was initially a little bit difficult. They didn't really know what to do with me because I had a German high school diploma and I have dual citizenship. Initially, they had asked me to give up my German side of it and I said no, because by law I'm allowed to keep both. And so we actually used my college that I had at the time to get me into the service and I had signed up for a six-year term then.
TP: So I want to touch on something you just said is that they asked you duringyour recruitment in the commission to give up your German citizenship.
TP: You're dual even though, now how did you know by law that you were allowed to?
CG: It was because I asked my sister and brother why they didn't have dualcitizenship and I think it's after '74 that you were allowed to have both. So that kind of intrigued me to look into more who had rights and who didn't. I knew a little bit about it. So I was really insisted on that I'm not giving that up. That I'm keeping that.
TP: Smart so It sounds like already you were fairly cognizant of what rights you00:04:00may or may not have.
TP: You didn't just go along with whatever was being said. You had the foresightand forethought of what to do.
CG: Right, correct.
TP: Which is good. So you entered the Air Force, can you talk, you justmentioned that it's because you made a promise to your father that you wouldn't enter the Army. Were there other reasons that the Air Force was attractive?
CG: I liked at the time when I researched the different services, it seemed tome that the Air Force was the more intelligent part. Not wanting to be insulting but that's just how it came across where the Marines, they're more gung-ho to throw in first. I wasn't interested in being on the water and the Air Force, they're usually more in the background, kind of, dropping in later. And so I was really intrigued by that. Plus I was still coming from my cop side, from studying criminal justice. And so I liked that in the Air Force, they don't have a military police. They have what's called Security Forces. And so they don't have an infantry. So Security Forces, there's the infantry, police and security part as well. I really liked that, that I could do a little bit of all that.
TP: Did you finish your degree?
TP: You did?
CG: After the military.
TP: Okay. So you were-- How long were you in school? Like how long were youstudying at college or university then before you enlisted?
CG: I think about a year, a year and a half.
TP: Okay and what made you decide to stop that path and go? Because at thatpoint you're not, you got started through secondary school.
CG: Correct. I just really wanted to do something. I really wanted to get going.I didn't want to just sit around and wait. I wanted to go and see things, do 00:06:00things. I was getting restless is probably the best way to put it.
TP: So you enlisted?
TP: How old were you enlisted?
CG: I was 21.
TP: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about the enlistment process?
CG: When I went the night before you get shipped off to basic training, Iremember being in Seattle at the center filling out paperwork. There was specifically a question addressing homosexuality. And I don't remember how it was phrased, but you had to mention that you weren't gay. It just always stuck in my mind. At the time, I didn't know why it stuck in my mind because I entered the military as far as I knew as straight. And so that's just something that's always stuck with me.
TP: For frame of reference you said you were 21?
TP: What year?
CG: That was 1999.
TP: Now can you tell us-- At the point in 1999 when you're entering the militaryand you see this question that sticks in your mind and you're not quite sure why. That is during, in the midst of "Don't ask, don't tell"?
TP: So can you speak a little bit to that? About entering at this time, what thegeneral climate, and maybe it's not even a climate that you had thought but just for reference why this question, looking back now, why it seems crazy that that was on there?
CG: Sure. I've had experiences in life before that where I've questioned mysexuality, but I never really gave it much thought. I was engaged to a guy five years prior to joining the military. It was an off and on thing. So in my mind, I was going to marry him. When I joined, right before I left for basic training, 00:08:00we broke up. He wanted to stay. He was close to his family. He wanted to stay there. And I-- We were just at different points in our lives. I wanted to go. I wanted to see things and do things, but I always wondered why things didn't work out with him. I always questioned sexuality wise. I hadn't been exposed to it yet. So I didn't know much about myself. And I think somewhere subconsciously for that reason that question stuck out because things were rolling then. In my mind, things were starting to surface.
TP: So what did you mark on that questionnaire?
CG: I said no, I'm not. I'm not gay. I'm not, yeah.
TP: Because otherwise you probably wouldn't have been--
TP: Irony of that. Now, so what happened after your enlistment? Where was basictraining? Can you describe that experience?
CG: Sure. I went to a basic training in San Antonio, Texas. I absolutely lovedit. I was mentally prepared for it. My Dad, you know, he made sure for me to be aware that he knew that I knew that it was mental game. so I never really, I kind of enjoyed it. I was then stationed in California which I was very happy about because I like the warm climate. And when I got to California, I think I was there about two months. Then I was deployed to Saudi, Saudi Arabia, Prince Sultan Air Base.
TP: And this was in still '99?
CG: This was still in 1999, correct.
TP: If I may ask, what was your reaction to finding out where you were going tobe deployed? Had you-- Was it something you selected? Was it something you were assigned? 00:10:00
CG: We were assigned it. Being in the Security Forces, they were using a lot ofus for an on-base. It was a base in Saudi Arabia where US, French, and British troops were stationed on to. And we basically enforced security within our perimeters on that base. So I was assigned to it and I was actually, kind of, excited about it. I wasn't going to go in the midst of the war somewhere. I was close to a war, Kuwait. I wasn't going to be in the midst of it. I was thinking of the alternative. I, kind of, had the better thing happen to me. It was exciting. I was going to see a new country and interacting with different people. Um, yeah.
TP: I'd forgotten to ask, at this point what was your role and function in the military?
CG: Sure. I was basically police on base. We also did a lot of security. We hadU-2 planes on our base which had high security perimeters around it. And we would get stealth bombers and planes like that that would come on-base. We would have to do security for those type of planes.
TP: What was it like? Can you describe that detail? Because I don't think I'veever spoken with anybody who either wasn't- traditional what people think of as an MP or in this case too where you're guarding billions of dollars' worth of machinery. Can you describe what that's like and maybe what type of training you received to perform those duties?
CG: Sure. The best way to describe the security part of it is standing longhours with a lot of heavy gear on your hips and guarding a plane. That's pretty much all there's to it. Think of the most boring security job you could ever think of except you have this really expensive, really neat plane just a few 00:12:00feet away from you. The other part was regular police type of training. You'd be at the gates checking people's IDs, checking for people drunk driving, patolling the base, helping out to get rattle snakes out of someone's garage or little, funny little things like that.
BR: It sounds like you really enjoyed your time in the service.
CG: I loved it.
BR: Did you make a lot of friends?
CG: I did.
BR: Can you talk about it maybe?
CG: I did. I made quite a few friends. I really wanted to make sure that I wouldmake the most out of the experience. One individual in particular and we became really close in Saudi was this one airman. Her and I connected from the get-go when I got there. And we happened to be deployed to Saudi together. And we-- The best way to describe it, we helped raise morale of troops. We just had a really good time. We would be positive. We would, when time would allow it, we'd joke around and just be silly and just, kind of, keep everybody up and going. In fact, we both got an award for it after we came back home because we, kind of, helped people's morale. It was great.
TP: So you met this person in California?
TP: Then you were deployed over?
TP: Now and I ask based on our initial conversation, was this, you mentioned youwent into the military thinking you were straight, maybe some questions and met someone. Was this that someone?
TP: This was not?
CG: No. I did meet some individuals at Beale Air Force Base in California that00:14:00were gay. I noticed myself being very drawn to that circle of individuals, but I also noticed that, you know, that's when you start talking about you have to watch where you go and what you say and, kind of, how you act. I wasn't really full-blown exploring that side of myself yet, but it was starting to make sense. And when I went to Saudi, that's when I met a woman that I fell head over heels in love with. Everything just fell in place. Everything in my life just, it was like a big puzzle that came together. And in fact, I ended up writing my family and friends a letter. And I said to them, "Hey, I'm gay and you have the time while I'm deployed to figure out how you're going to deal with this essentially."
Another important part about Saudi is that there were a group of five or six ofus that would meet. They were part Army part Air Force individuals. We would meet in one individual's room because we felt the safest there. We could just freely speak and engage with each other. But it was scary because we were always afraid that we'd get caught and that's when my sense of security started to kick in. That's when everything just started to hit me where I go, okay, this is me. This is, I need to start watching because of who I might potentially love. That really bothered me.
TP: I want get-- I want to jump back a little bit to Beale.
TP: You said you met some individuals who were gay at Beale Air Force Base?
TP: You said you started to identify, you just were drawn to them?00:16:00
TP: And I find that interesting because we're talking about and I think it'sgood and obviously [inaudible 00:16:10]. A very compressed timeline because if you were only at Beale for two months, immediately, this was moving very quickly.
TP: So you said you met these individuals at Beale and that's when the realityof that question that was on your questionnaire that really started because even though you weren't necessarily identifying. Can you describe what that's like now starting to be, being drawn to these people as friends, as colleagues, as coworkers, as service people but starting to realize that you've got to be careful? You were talking a little about that. Clearly at Beale, because that's still on American soil. That was very early in your enlistment.
CG: It was scary. It was confusing too, because there is that part of me thatwas really proud and really excited to be in the military and to do this. I loved my job and I knew my job. I was playing with the idea, I don't think even so much playing with the idea. I think had, kind of, in my mind that I was going to make a career out of it like my dad did. And then yet there was this other side of me that started to discover things. It was really scary because I couldn't really just go out and discover it, just openly talk to people. But yet I fell into this little group in a way. It was a very confusing and scary time. I didn't really know what to do with it at the time.
BR: In the two months that you were on the base, that seems like a very shorttime to discover this about people at a time where it's not acceptable to be, to have that lifestyle. Can you talk about this thing came out and were introduced to you? It was a very short time and a lot of trust.
CG: Sure. I met an individual. She was housing in the same building as I. And00:18:00she would, kind of, for lack of terms, kind of, hit on me every now and then, which now is, kind of, when I think back on it pretty I don't know, kind of, stupid, courageous, all the above of hers. You know, through that and things like that go over my head when people do that to me. I don't know that they have an interest in me in that way. But when I became friends with her and start hanging out with her friends, they, kind of, had their own group and then that's how I fell into that circle of friends.
TP: Did it-- To Ben's question about trust, that's a lot of trust in a shortamount of time. Do you feel, how did they come to trust you with this?
CG: The best way I can describe it is when I came out to everybody, they feltlike they already always knew about me, just from past relationships. I don't know if I had a certain vibe or the infamous Gaydar, I don't know. I'm not 100% sure.
BR: Going into this, before you realized you were gay, what was your opinion onthis lifestyle?
CG: I was intrigued.
BR: You were intrigued?
CG: I was very intrigued. I thought that they were very brave for beingthemselves as much as they could even though they had to hide it. I think part of that intrigued me as well because they were brave.
TP: Can you talk a little bit more about the intrigue? What would you describeas at least in your position at that time in your life, what would you describe that lifestyle, that culture as? What words would you use to describe that? 00:20:00
CG: Being themselves. They were being themselves even though they weren'tallowed to be.
TP: Did that feel like something you identified with as well?
CG: I wasn't sure yet. I really wasn't. I had this pull to it. I did. I reallycouldn't lay my finger on it. There was something there that I couldn't quite touch. That I couldn't quite figure out.
TP: And you said the clandestine nature of it did add a little bit to the intrigue?
TP: Maybe ostensibly outside of the military in this lens, not that it wouldn'thave been intriguing to you but there was an extra layer of that?
CG: Right. I had never had a chance before then to really be around the gayculture. And so, having always wondered about having things happen throughout life, just it was a little puzzle that was starting to fit together. It made sense to me. It did. But I kind of, I wanted to ignore it too because I loved being in the military. I loved what I was doing.
TP: So you deployed to Saudi?
TP: Can you describe that process? What's it like going from a hot place to ahot place but going from California to Saudi Arabia on-base? Assimilating into that, your new duties, your new role. Can you describe that process?
CG: Sure. It was a very long flight. I'll never forget that. A very long travel.One of the scariest things I can think of during the flight was when before you land at base in Saudi, they have you close all the windows in the plane so that way the lights of the plane can't be seen and the plane could be shot down. 00:22:00That, kind of, started to set reality in, because at first, you're just, you're traveling somewhere. It's the first time you're going somewhere. There's that excitement, that anxiousness. You're scared. You have all your buddies with you. You're bonding, but then reality starts to hit in.
When you land on-base, you would have, as I said it was an American base withinthe Saudi base which was huge, but the Saudi Arabians would still have things under control. They would still check your bags. You can't bring alcohol. You can't bring certain type of materials with you into the country. Women get, kind of, treated differently especially because we're not wearing the coverings and, so that it starts to hit you a little bit, it's very hot there during the day 120 degrees. It would drop down to 80 degrees which seems warm but you're freezing because you're so hot all day. You try to put on as many layers of clothes as you can at night.
I was lucky that we weren't living in tents. We had buildings. It wasn't untilwe went further out on to the base that they were more tent type of settings set up. But when we would travel between checkpoints, because I was a cop over there, it would be scary because sometimes you would get lost. There would be these dirt roads and you would get lost and you would see the Saudi gate somewhere and you'd just see them standing there looking at you. It was really intimidating. So we'd turn around and try to find our way back.
There was a point where I worked on the bomb squad. Meaning we had third countrynationals come on the base. They would do duties such as working in the kitchen. They would make money working in the kitchen or doing housework in our dorms and 00:24:00what not. And because they were coming on to the Saudi and the American part of the base, we had to not only search them but the vehicles they came on as well. So we would have security checkpoints set up where they would be separated from their vehicles. We would go check their vehicles with mirrors. We'd climb all over them and look for bombs and the individuals would be patted down. Then they would be given an ID and they would come on-base.
So initially, I had a hard time with that because I was a woman. They didn'twant to talk to me, but engaging with them on a daily basis twice a day, they started to warm up. So it was really fascinating and neat talking to these individuals from these countries that were bordering Saudi Arabia and coming on there to work. An it was really humbling to get them to the point that they would talk to me and tell me about those experiences. So I really loved that, connecting with them in that way. Other than that, it was just very hot all the time.
TP: Can you describe that heat for people who don't, this is a bit trivial. I'minterested to know. Can you describe that for people who haven't been to Saudi Arabia?
CG: It's when you look out all you see is sand. Sand and sand. And it's lookinginto these waves of heat. It would get to about 120, sometimes 130 degrees and you had to stay in your uniform. But you couldn't-- You'd want to take off as many clothes as you'd want. Then at night it would just get very, very cold feeling. I mean I would have on gloves. I would have on scarfs. I would have on two jackets. I would have on as many pants that I could layer on top of each 00:26:00other, because the temperature drop would happen within an hour or two hours' time. Even though it remained 80 degrees that was a big change in temperature in a short amount of time.
TP: Going back to your, you mentioned with the security protocols and you beinga woman in an area that does not view women as equal certainly, let alone someone who can start asking them questions and be in a position of authority. You said some of the third country nationals started opening up to you a little bit. Do you have any-- Is there any experiences specifically that stand out?
CG: I was always-- I always admired their work ethic, their willingness to dowhat they needed to do to support their family. They would tell me stories that they would be working for three, four years at a time before they could ever travel back to go see their families, without days off because they really needed money that bad to support their families. And they were very giving people. They would always, any food or anything that they would bring with them, they would always offer. It would always be insulting if you didn't take it and share with them. I was really just appreciative of that, very humbling experience.
TP: Did you have similar experiences when you were in America or did you feelthat was culturally different or just had you not been, because I see a dichotomy between these people coming to these places to work and then you from the United States on what's ostensibly an enormous facility. Did that jive with experiences you had in America with people who were trying to work to support, handle that day-to-day kind of thing?
CG: I think it was different because they didn't really have much of a choice in00:28:00what type of work they would do. So they were, I don't want to say forced, but they didn't have much of a choice of what they would do to earn money. And- I feel like we have more choices over here of what we're going to do.
TP: So you are in Saudi, you're starting to get into your role in security. Anyinteresting experiences? You said you were doing bomb detail and those sorts of things. Did you have any experiences with that where you did find something? Did you have anything happening when you were either guarding a plane for instance?
CG: We had a few scares. Thankfully, nothing ever, at least when I worked wedidn't find anything. But there's always that scare because third country nationals were sometimes hired to gain security as well. So there was always that fear that even though they're being nice with you that they're trying to dig for information as well, so you had to watch what you talked about in terms of the military part.
One incident that sticks out in my mind is when we were working security detailand we saw far, there was a fence and we saw an individual walking there and, kind of, looking and what we thought was taking pictures. And then we saw a Saudi patrol vehicle drive up and threw him on the ground. Kicked him a few times, threw him on the back of the truck and drove off. Something like that stuck in my mind for a while and it scares you because you never know who's really truly there for what. That's pretty much all I can think of. 00:30:00
TP: Do you feel-- Was there a difference between you on security inside anAmerican base and then you guys operating under the umbrella of Saudi security as well. You would have had colleagues in the Saudi forces. How was the-- Can you describe that dynamic?
CG: For the most part, we were separated. Meaning they were pretty much on theouter perimeters of their base. We were pretty much handling our internal things. I think other jobs interconnected more but being on the security part where we were at, we didn't really interact with them that much other than when we'd get lost driving somewhere, and we'd see them from afar.
TP: What was life like off-duty?
CG: There wasn't much because working security we'd work three days, 12 hourshifts technically. By the time you'd get off you really had worked 16 hours. Then you'd have one day off. The one day that you were off, I'd spend doing laundry or trying to just catch up on a few things, write letters. Essentially after work, we'd eat. We'd go and try and hang out a little bit just to socialize and depress a little bit and that was pretty much it. I went to the gym a lot. But yeah, there wasn't much downtime per se.
BR: You talked about as you were discovering yourself, you felt that sense ofsecurity was maybe less-than what you felt initially. Working with this other culture, the Saudi Arabians and other third nationals, how did that sense of security with them and your interaction with them change if at all? 00:32:00
CG: I think as a human when you start to just talk to someone you feel moretrusting especially when they start to open up to you. Sometimes you forget, as odd as it sounds, sometimes you forget where you're at. You forget you're involved in a war. You forget that you're in this other country. You basically are overseeing these people. So- it's hard to describe. I think up until little incidents happen like that incident at the fence, you almost let your guard down a little bit. You feel secure.
But, you would get these little reminders here and there, little thingshappening when another part of security, the person that's watching those individuals, guarding those individuals from a far that are about to get searched and then come on-base and work you're in a Humvee you have this machine gun pointed at them. You're always trained to never take the safety off of a gun unless you intend to fire it. You're told when you're watching them from that Humvee which I had to do sometimes, you take the security latch off because at any time, if something happens you need to start shooting. And that, when you get told that, it really reminds you where you're at and what the circumstances are. I think to answer your question it just depended on, you go through a whole area of emotions. You go through a whole area of different feelings about that.
BR: So your questions about your feeling of security was really more identifiedwhen you were on base and off-duty rather than when you were on-duty?
CG: Right yeah.
TP: Do you feel that at the time or even in hindsight, do you feel that that, I00:34:00don't want to say constant threats. It sound melodramatic. So you started getting to know these people, you said you're there potentially training a gun on them in case but you know them now. You've been talking to them about their lives. Still that knowledge that they might turn and you might have to act on that, did you feel at the time that there was a strain? Was that something that weighed on you?
CG: Yes, because like I said these were individuals that worked years on endwithout seeing their families and without working many, working years potentially without having a day off. So how easy is it to-- if someone offers you a lot of money to gain them a picture or gain them a little bit of information? How tempting would that be? You're a human trying to survive. So yeah, that was always in the back of my mind, absolutely.
TP: At what point in your deployment to Saudi did you meet this person that youspoke about?
CG: This person? Fairly soon. She worked in a different, she worked a differentjob. I don't remember how we met, but I remember it was fairly soon after I got there. And we just connected instantly, probably shared a story about something that we connected on, and I don't know. It just, we fell in love. It was instant and just absolutely fell in love. Just, kind of, went from there. History started happening more or less. Everything made sense to me in terms of that 00:36:00part of me.
TP: How did you come about realizing that?
CG: She invited me to meet some friends. She knew that we had just come overthere. We exchanged some conversations. So she invited me to come hang out in the evening with some of her friends. Those ended up being the individuals that we hung out with in that one particular room with. Initially, they acted, kind of, guarded because they didn't know me. But I was telling them-- She had told me that she was gay. And so, I was telling them that I was starting to question things about me. I think that's what opened them up faster to me. So then they started telling me more about themselves. Yeah, that's-
TP: So where was your relationship with her at the point when this happened? Wasit a relationship yet? I'm trying to gauge, because you and she had obviously spoken a little bit about this.
CG: Exactly. It happened fairly fast. I don't want to sound clich, thattypical lesbian really fast. I'm sure had we not been in Saudi we would have moved in together after a week. No, I'm kidding. But, I would say we started seeing each other pretty fast. Started dating.
TP: You say things locked in for you, how did this contrast with your previousengagement even, right?
CG: Right. The best way to put it is he thought I was saving myself for00:38:00marriage. I always questioned why I had-- why I didn't have such intimate interest in men. And all of a sudden I had this very intimate interest in a woman. And so that's where I say that it just made sense to me all of a sudden that everything fell in place.
TP: So I guess, on the flip side of this, this is clearly very, very exciting,an enormous life changing realization, kind of, a personal epiphany. Can you talk about the but of this situation?
CG: It was very difficult because when I didn't, like I said, there wasn't muchdowntime so it didn't give me much time to process things. It didn't give me much time to, other than me realizing these things about me and discovering what I would say my true self, I didn't get much time to process everything through. I just went with the flow of things. So I knew that there was this part of me that I had to hide and not talk about. And when you first fall in love, you want to tell everybody. You want to talk to everybody. I can't do this. I'm in this career. I'm getting rewards and achievements and really embracing this role, this career. I'm also wanting to discover myself.
It was an incredibly difficult time for me. I never really, just never really00:40:00could just sit down for a minute and just think and just let things go through all the channels and make sense of it. I knew enough that I knew that was me which is why I wrote the letters. I said, "Here. Here, this is me and you have three, four months to figure out how you're going to deal with it when I come back," type of thing.
TP: So how far into your enlistment was this? I guess, I'm trying to, from thetime of enlistment and then also relationship that you, again, all very quickly that you decided. What made you decide to do that through a letter? What made you decide to write them as opposed to maybe waiting until you were home when talking face-to-face? I'm curious why you chose that that way for that.
CG: For me personally, when I usually talk about something more serious, it'seasier for me when I write it down first rather than talking right away about it because then I might say things or they're not processed all the way for me. So I sat down one night. I started writing, kind of like a journal entry. I also knew I didn't want to keep that journal entry because I didn't want someone to find it. And so I thought huh, instead ofmaking this into a journal, I'm going to make it into a letter and why don't I just mail it?
I initially started with my parents. Then I went to my sister and brother. ThenI picked certain friends I was close to. I didn't want to wait. I knew this was something big and I knew this wasn't phase. I knew it wasn't just something new and exciting because of the risk factors involved. It was too big to discover 00:42:00myself to not embrace it. It was bigger than me in a sense.
TP: What, at the time, what risk factors were you aware of?
CG: I knew that if you were exposed that you could get dishonorably discharged,which is a big, it's almost like a shaming, like a disgrace. It also can impact the rest of your life in terms of jobs. But I think initially at the time, I was afraid of the loss, to lose this new thing that I just got. This career, this future that I really wanted to have and so that was very, very conflicting.
TP: Do you feel-- You mentioned you were in love and you were so excited and youwanted to say it from the roof tops, right?
TP: Do you feel that, one question, personal question, was in your letter comingout to your family, did you mentioned this person or was it more general? Then do you feel that maybe that, did that push you to come out sooner or it all just, kind of, happened?
CG: It all just kind of happened, but it was more general. I just said that Ihad discovered something about myself. I met an individual and I discovered something about myself. It just all makes sense now. Things had happened before in life and just how things played out it just made sense.
TP: What was their reaction?
CG: For the most part it was actually pretty good. In fact, a lot of my friendssaid that they always knew it because I wore hats, which I thought was funny. I said, right? I had dated guys all my life. I was with this guy I was going to marry, but okay, I wore hats. So I'm sure that makes sense. My Mom did think for 00:44:00a while it was a phase. My Dad always had the mentality, "Whatever makes you happy makes me happy." But even though initially my Mom felt it was a phase, I never had a problem with, you know, when I did come back to the States and did go to Washington State to visit them, it was never odd bringing my girlfriend along. So she, yeah, she was fine.
BR: So it was very supportive, welcoming reception?
CG: Yeah. I would say so.
TP: Was that a surprise to you? Did you feel like that? Was that what you expected?
CG: I didn't care at the time. I was too excited about it all. I really didn'tthink about what their reactions would be. I think in a way I thought if you love me you'll be around if you don't love me then I won't be around it essentially. Yeah.
TP: How did you tell your friends in Saudi?
CG: Well we only really talked amongst those few individuals. You know, wedidn't really tell anybody else. There was really that scare and that fear of being discovered.
TP: Can you describe-- I guess, not to sound like logistics but how did you goabout meeting? What security precautions did you put in place for your personal life? Is there,There is-- there are things in literature from WWII lesbians of this, how this, I don't want to call it the subculture, that sounds-- but how this develops and this organic way that these things. But I'm interested in your case and in this group that you have, this little, cadre of friends that you've carved out. What-- How did you go about meeting?
CG: There was a certain knock we'd do on the door in the room that we wouldmeet. We would have a certain code, a certain way we'd knock on the door.
TP: What was it?00:46:00
CG: I don't remember it. I don't. I wish I remembered it. In fact, I've beentrying to recall that. I can't remember it, but I do remember we had a certain knock that we had to do. And the other thing is I remember hating having shorter hair at the time because I feel like that would, it was shoulder length but it wasn't the typical long hair that you put in a bun type of thing. And that bothered me at the time because I didn't want that pointing to the fact that I was gay. I remember thinking about that.
BR: It sounds like it was fairly organized and well-thought that it was?
CG: Tried to be.
BR: Almost like an organization that's running?
CG: Yeah almost.
TP: Was that in place before you?
TP: Interesting. And how frequently would you all get together?
CG: As much as we could. At least for the job I was doing there wasn't muchdowntime. But we all had different shifts. As much as we could. Yeah cause, it was the only place we could really be ourselves and just talk about whatever and not have to watch what we say, because you'd have individuals ask you outside of that. Are you dating anybody? Are you seeing anybody? Are you? Usually I'd say something like I've got somebody at stateside? I'm seeing somebody stateside or I'd bring up somehow bring up the ex that I was going to marry and be like, "Oh well, when I come back we're thinking about maybe getting back together."
TP: How did that feel? In any of those cases, your already, I'm curious to knowhow you felt because you seem to be-- you're starting to be fairly, I don't want to say honest. You're very self-aware. You're very straightforward about your own beliefs and how you feel.
CG: I like to be an open book. I like to be open about things. It was hard. It00:48:00was. It's almost like keeping track of lies that you tell. And I would find myself thinking about what I had potentially said to that individual or another individual just so I wouldn't get the stories mixed up. So it was hard and I hate doing that. I hate doing that because I have no problem being an open book and talking about things. Yeah.
TP: So what-- was there any other? I mean were you able to date in any, kind of,normal sense given the situation?
TP: Was it pretty much confined to that room?
CG: Pretty much yeah, absolutely.
TP: How did your partner or girlfriend at the time, how did this impact her? Doyou have a sense of like how she, did you guys discuss how secretive you had to be? Was there? How did that work?
CG: Something like that would come up fairly fast when you had a new person joinyour group per se, because you had to be sure that nothing would come out. What I knew from her side was that she had married another gay individual so that they could fake being together. This was another gay male and her. They had married stateside so that way they could have a house on-base. It wouldn't be questioned whether they were gay or not. People just thought that they were married couple living on-base.
TP: Did they meet in the military?
CG: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
TP: How long had she been in the military at this point?
CG: I think two or three years.00:50:00
TP: Great. All this is happening very quickly.
TP: She was married. She would have been still married when she had met you.
TP: And her husband would have been, was he deployed elsewhere or was he alsodeployed stateside?
CG: I'm not sure. I think he was stateside at the time.
TP: He was still stateside?
CG: It was basically an arranged marriage to hide their identities.
TP: I'm curious to know how it felt moving into that. As you're talking you'retaking more and more steps, every step you go, you're just going through the natural progression of a relationship. There was no, you couldn't?
TP: Everything was under this and every step you take further in yourrelationship is further into this secrecy.
TP: Was that a strain on your relationship? Was it a fact? Was it an excitingthing? Like you said there was an intrigue you had initially with the culture because of it. How did that? I guess I'm curious, how did that strain or those concerns act upon you two as two people falling in love?
CG: Sure. It's hard to answer that because the circumstance, because of where wewere at. I don't know how things would have played out had we meet stateside and it was something. I knew going into it that it was going to be something short-term in terms of once I get brought back home, we're probably not going to see each other anymore. Did I want to? Yes absolutely.
This was my first, my true first love. That's how I felt, you know and so. Yeah,I wanted to have something long-term. But in the back of my mind I always knew 00:52:00that once one of us left that that would be it, because I don't even remember where she was stationed at in the states. I don't think I wanted to remember. She had always made it clear that once we left that more than likely we're not likely to see each other anymore. So it's like you said, everything just happened. I just went with the flow and tried to do the best that I could at the time and try to hang on to things the best that I could.
TP: You said you loved this person?
TP: And had life been different, circumstances been different, you would havebeen maybe thinking long-term?
TP: You wouldn't have come into it under the auspices of just knowing it was ashorter term thing.
TP: Do you-- Even though she made it very clear like the understanding was, doyou feel she felt that same way? Was that expectation shortened because of the circumstances?
CG: I feel like it was harder for me to leave than it was for her to watch mego. That's the best way to describe it. I think we had our moment then. That's how she felt and for me it was something bigger because just discovering all of that about me. Yeah.
TP: And so how long did this last? And did she leave? Was she recalled or?
CG: No. I left before her. It lasted until I left.
TP: So as this progresses, how does this change the way you work? We talked alittle bit about your time together I'm assuming. How does that change your time out of that room? You mentioned a little bit with the hair, but I'm curious to know, once this starts rolling, what do you do?
CG: Right. You have a roommate that asks you where you're at in your downtime.00:54:00Why aren't you here sleeping when you have time of? And you have your other friends who you would go to the gym with normally or go out for grab a bite to eat and that's not happening anymore, so. You again, try to just lie. I mean it's just you tell her that you are meeting someone that you potentially have an interest in.
I was deployed with another good friend of mine who was straight who knew aboutme. And I told him about the initial things that I started discovering when we first got stationed in California. And so I had told him I was going to use him as my cushion for my roommate's sake. So here we are, we have those stories of me having someone stateside, but I'm constantly busy with something while I'm deployed there. So now I have to fill those gaps in, right. So I said to him, "Basically I'm using you as that cushion. You're that person that I'm spending time with when I'm not in my room sleeping or when I'm not going to the gym with this group of individuals that I started going to the gym with every day after a shift." Yeah.
TP: So was that under the auspices of it being a romantic involvement?
TP: How did he feel about that? How did this conversation happen? How did it[come up?
CG: He was fine with it. He, I think that's probably why we connected so well inthe States. In California at the base we worked together. We were really close. He was married. We were just really good friends. I trusted him a lot. He was fine. He just always told me to watch what I say with my stories stateside and 00:56:00with my stories here with him. He kind of, he helped me at times with that. It was, yeah, difficult.
TP: So at some point, there are some suspicions that start being raised?
CG: Right. That wasn't back until the States. That wasn't back until we came to stateside.
TP: How long were you in Saudi?
CG: About four months.
TP: Oh, wow.
CG: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
TP: Is that typical deployment for that detail?
CG: They ended up being longer later. I was lucky that, initially we were onlysupposed to go two months and it got extended to four months, which at the time I was happy about. So no, I think later deployments were about a year.
TP: Okay so you-- Sos it very much was given that you were initially there justfor two months. I mean.
TP: There was no room for long-term expectations and stuff?
CG: No. It was a really big roller coaster ride.
TP: I think I knew that your deployment was short. I didn't realize already itwas set up to be even shorter.
CG: Right. If I remember it right, at the time, they were doing shorterdeployments because you were going to come back to the stateside for a few months. Then you were going to go right back out there. I remember hearing basically rotating through, kind of, getting a break at the time.
TP: So what did it feel like when those orders came through that you were goingto be recalled back to the States?
CG: I was heartbroken. I was very heartbroken. I wanted more time. I wanted more00:58:00time to process things. But at the same time, I was also looking forward to not being confined to just that. I wanted to know what else there was. So the biggest thing was the heartbreak and then there was the sense of realization that there is more out there that I'm going to discover and potentially be involved in. But that was also really scary because I didn't know yet what that was.
TP: Did you-- when you say you wanted more time, do you feel that was you wantedmore time for the two of you? You wanted more time for you?
CG: I wanted, yes, both. I wanted more time for me to process things and Iwanted more time for us. I wasn't ready to give that up just yet. And the individuals that we met with there, it was a very, when you go through things like that you bond. You bond like crazy. Anything, basic training, you bond with those individuals. That's something you're going through together and having that particular experience. You don't realize it at the time that much, but then when you step out of that you go wow, yeah we were really close. We were really, I wasn't ready to give that up yet.
TP: So what was it like coming back to, you were brought back to California?
TP: Was it Beale?
CG: Yes. Beale Air Force Base.
TP: What was it like coming back to Beale?
CG: It was like a new world in a way, a big scary world. It was going to the01:00:00military because we're talking a very short time of all this. It was joining the military straight and coming back out of a deployment where you're processing things gay essentially for me. I didn't really know what to do because it's not like I can go around to fellow coworkers or fellow airmen and go, "Hey, how can I?" And that individual that I initially met at Beale Air Force Base, she was deployed somewhere else at the time. So it's not like I could reconnect with her and go, "Hey, what do I do from here? Where can I meet people? Where can I go?"
So it was very lonely initially. Then of course there were parts where I had toget in touch with my family and friends and, kind of, see their reactions, and that's when I found out that they were pretty supportive. So that was a relief. So at some point, I just decided to go one night alone to a gay club in Sacramento. I was tired of being lonely. I didn't really know what to do. I just said, "Okay, I'm going to go find this club and see what happens."
TP: How did you know about it? How did you go about doing that? You didn't havea prior experience of knowing.
CG: Right. I drove downtown. I went to a gas station. I pulled up the Gaydar andlooked for someone who potentially could be gay. I asked them where there was a gay club.
TP: I thought you were going to tell me you asked me the person at the gas,working at the gas station about--
TP: Which would have been-- that works as well. What was it like walking intothat experience for the first time? 01:02:00
CG: It was fabulous. It was great. It was-- I felt a sense of relief because Ididn't feel like I had to pretend to be someone that I'm not. However, then I started thinking about, I remember thinking if I meet somebody and start talking to them, do I want to tell them I'm in the military? Do they want to deal with that? So as excited as I was, I was a little hesitant, but I did meet my then girlfriend at the club that night. We started talking. I did tell her I was in the military. Let's see what happens. But I can't really, we can't really openly go out. We can go in a gay club. We can't just go out anywhere. There's going to be some restrictions we're going to have.
TP: What did it feel like communicating that and setting up? It sounds to melike it was a, you ended up you had a relationship with this person.
CG: Right, I did.
TP: What was it like laying that out on the table? Now, you're in that position.You're on the other side of the table from when you were in Saudi. What did that feel like setting up, "Hey, I really like you by the way"?
CG: It was bizarre. It was weird. You meet someone. Of course you just startingtalking about things, common things and then as you talk about your life, you know. I decided not to hide the military. And I kind of brought that up and I said, "By the way, this is what's going to happen if we decide to date. I can't do certain things." It was bizarre, but she seemed fine with it.
TP: How long were you there in Beale then?01:04:00
CG: I was in Beale until I was discharged. It was the remaining of my service.
TP: What was it like starting to now have because you obviously didn't meet onbase and this person was a civilian I assume.
TP: So describe how this relationship evolves. Can you describe that a littlebit and what that was like with your own base life off-base?
CG: We would meet in deserted parking lots or meet at the club because I didn'treally know where to go where I'd be safe. The closest bigger city that Beale is to is Sacramento. So we'd often meet somewhere in Sacramento. There would be parking lots. It'd be parking lots or the club because I didn't want to risk bumping into someone.
At some point, fairly fast we ended up getting an apartment together because itwas hard to coordinate trying to figure out where we could meet safely just without risking being caught by someone. So we ended up getting, plus we were in love. We wanted to live together. I wanted that safe zone off the base where I didn't have to worry about, you know, someone telling on me. We ended up getting a two-bedroom apartment and we set them up as if we were two roommates living together instead of two lovers, because one, if I didn't think about it and I invited another airman to come over, they obviously couldn't know or if we had a surprise inspection/visit from a superior or someone. So I couldn't risk that they would find out that we're more than just roommates. 01:06:00
TP: So this was, I guess-- Can you briefly describe for people who don't knowwhat, how living arrangements off-base, living arrangements work with the military when you're home.
TP: And then this idea that it was on the books. As far as the military wasconcerned, this was your residence?
CG: Right, because initially you can either live on-base where you livecompletely rent free. You don't pay for anything other than your phone or cable. Or you can get a housing allowance to move off-base. I had moved off-base with another coworker for about a month or so just because I wanted to see what that was like if I could make it. If I could get enough money to afford to live off-base. I had a little bit of experience with it. So it was fairly easy to just get another place with her.
BR: This all is very well-thought out, very planned. You're hiding this from themilitary. How did you sort of feel during this time with all the secrecy? How did that impact you?
CG: It did and it didn't. When I say it didn't, in terms of you start to getmore aware of other individuals who are gay. It just tends to happen when you're a part of that community and you also get more comfortable with your fellow coworkers at some point that you're hoping you can trust. So it's a little bit of fine tuning here and there, you know, because you'd be on shift with someone that you work with all the time. So you'd get to talking a little bit about things. So there would be certain individuals that would know things about you 01:08:00but not to a full extent. And I was very selective with who I would talk to. Other than that, it was more sticking with just talking about job, talking about the work, and plus when it didn't come to my private life, I was very focused on my career. I had certain awards I was nominated for. I had certain things I was striving for, certain goals I had in mind career wise. So it was a lot of talking about stuff like that. So it was easy but not easy to kind of keep people's minds on other things if that makes sense.
BR: So this is-- Talking about your employer and you're very focused on yourcareer as a future prospect and wanting to go forward with this. How was it working for an employer who disagreed with your lifestyle? How did that impact you?
CG: Very bittersweet. There was that pride and then there is that shame, almostthat how dare you type of mentality? I'm doing this for you but you're doing this to me and even now, there's that pride that I served in the military. But then there's also that, it's a bitter taste in my mouth.
BR: I want to touch on-- You said shame. You're talking about the shame you feelin the military should have felt for how they treated you rather than for what you were doing?
CG: Sure yeah.
TP: What did it-- Kind of going off that, how was it to be serving a countrylike you took time out of your life. Yes, this was a career opportunity, right?
TP: But, you went overseas. You were working some very tough shifts.
TP: For a country that, it's not I think just the military institution but thecountry was backing those policies. How does that affect how you felt about your 01:10:00service, either at the time or now?
CG: I still, even though it's hard to wrap your head around it. It's a verysurreal feeling. It's a very, you almost try not to take it personal at least for me. There would be times that I think I felt like it's just something part of the job. It's just something I have to do, I have to deal with. It's just something you try to, you know, you get certain job descriptions for a job and you're like, okay, this is what's required of me. This is what's expected of me and so that's the type of mindset you try to get into sometimes.
But then it's hard because your personal life is a big part of your life ofcourse. And so you want to go to, like a, some type of an enlistment dance, like some kind of dance that's coming up or holidays like a bunch of airmen that are not with their families getting together. They're bringing whoever they're seeing at the time or their significant other and you can't do that. So, yeah, difficult. I know I keep saying difficult but that's what it is. It's very conflicting and difficult. I really wanted a career out of it. I really did, but I also really wanted to be myself. I also really wanted to discover that part of me. So I was conflicting with myself a lot, a whole lot.
TP: You've spoken a couple of times about career. I wanted to follow up and sayat this point, you're a year in. And you're-- When you started you initially 01:12:00said you were thinking about your Dad was a lifer by all means. You were 20 years. You were maybe thinking about it or maybe not you're going to college for a bit. But now, it sounds like you were starting to see some kind of goals and stepping stones for a long-term career in the military as something that you wanted. Can you describe just what that was? You said, you were talking with co-workers about these goals. Can you describe what your path or your trajectory was that you were laying out?
CG: Sure. I wanted to get involved in anything that I could. I really wanted toat some point during basic training, I was approached by a SERE instructor, Survival, Evasion, Rescue, and Escape. They're the instructors that teach like navy seals and other branches how to survive in these extreme circumstances. There weren't many female instructors if any at the time when I was approached. I was very intrigued by that. I really wanted to do that. It's all about survival. You learn how to survive in the desert. You learn how to survive in snow and ice and all these different environments. And especially as a female, we kind of, we have different biological things we have to keep in mind. So I was, kind of, setting up the path for that. Once, you have to serve a certain amount of time before you can change your job in the military. And so I was laying the path for that, preparing for that physically and mentally. I really wanted to do that.
TP: What did that look like? What did laying the path look like?
CG: Making certain connections. Getting certain recognitions and achievements,studying certain things just on my own time to gain the knowledge. Being 01:14:00physically fit. They're very, very into physical fitness for that type of thing of course. Just digging people's brains about-- that knew about that type of work. So that way I knew who to connect with and the steps I needed to follow to get there.
TP: How did that-- those ambitions, those, kind of, aspirations factor into yourpersonal life?
CG: That's a good question. It's almost like I had to separate them from eachother because it was this really high goal that I wanted. It's something I had to work for hard if I wanted to get there. I knew that. Then there's that part of me that wants to not hide who I am. It's a difficult thing to answer.
BR: It sounds like you were really living a double life.
BR: You had your home life and then you had your military career.
CG: Yes, that's exactly right. Yes.
TP: Was-- As you got into this relationship, was your career a strain on thatrelationship or were your aspirations? I'm interested to know a little about your personal--
CG: Sure, yeah. It was because being in the military is difficult on arelationship period because you can't, it's not like, "Hey, I want this time off" or here, it's harder to get time off or if you're going to get deployed, well you're going to get deployed. They don't care what you're doing at home. So it had a lot of strain on it. And over time, more or less being confined of just spending time in the apartment, kind of, put a strain on it too, you know, 01:16:00because you didn't want to risk just being the two of you constantly during off time out and about somewhere.
TP: So, at what point and maybe you knew this at the outset but you take thesesteps to, kind of, free yourself from the boundaries that the military places on your lifestyle to essentially move those boundaries just to another place?
TP: How did that feel?
CG: I kind of just went with it. It's kind of like you deal with it as ithappens. That's the only way I can describe it. There wasn't, other than making sure they stay separate for the most part, it's just always handling the situations right then and there.
TP: Okay, so, but you felt like you were handling them?
CG: I did. I thought. Then I found out that a sergeant started to ask questionsabout me. Questions as in where I was hanging out off-base, who I was hanging out with. And supposedly, there were some pictures he had taken with me off-base. I never saw the pictures and I can't confirm them, but it scared the heck out of me.
TP: I want to, just clarify, a chain of command where is this relationship or isthere even a relationship?
CG: There is. He was on the unit. He wasn't my direct superior, but he was on01:18:00the Security Forces unit. Like he was part of that team.
TP: So would it be like a lateral superior? Like was he a grade up but not whoyou reported to? I'm just curious about--
CG: Right. I didn't report to him, but he was a few grades up. Supposedly, itstarted, I was nominated for an achievement medal. There are some medals in the military you just receive, just to get them, when I was deployed in Saudi. Then there are other medals that you get because you're nominated for them. And I do remember hearing a conversation of him kind of talking about why I would be getting one already having just been in the service for that short amount of time.
TP: Was this due to your service in Saudi or at Beale?
TP: It was due to commendation in Saudi?
TP: Just for clarification-- So he's questioning how you were able to get thataward over a short period of time?
CG: Right. So I guess jealousy. I'm not really sure. I'm not really sure why hetook an interest in that. But then it starts following up with him starting to ask about me personally and that's where I started to get scared. That's when you start to try to think back on, did I-- one night at work, did I mention something? My girlfriend at the time, us going somewhere? Did I mention the word girl? Like, you try to recollect things that you might have said or done at some point.
So that's when I started to get scared. That's when I started to wonder whatwould happen if. I knew you could be discharged and if you got discharged it would be a dishonorable discharge. But I didn't know to what extents I could be reprimanded. What would happen? Is it base specifically, that commander? Is it that's just the law, in military law? I didn't really know what would happen 01:20:00with it and it scared me to no end.
TP: How far into your service are we talking at this point?
CG: About a year and a half. About a year and a half, yeah.
TP: Is when this started ramping up?
TP: And how were you told? You said you heard he was asking questions. Who heard?
CG: Another airman, a coworker pulled me aside and said, "Hey, he's starting toask things about you personally. So I just wanted to make you aware of that."
TP: Was this an airman that? You said there were certain airmen you had trusted?
TP: It was.
TP: So how-- What steps did you start taking? You mentioned a little, generally,but you find this out, you have this conversation. I guess first, how do you feel in that moment when here she pulls you aside?
TP: And then what did you start doing?
CG: First thing I remember doing when I got off-shift was going home and makingsure there's absolutely nothing that would even indicate that we were in a relationship. I'm talking pictures. I'm talking maybe I hung a shirt in the closet, the bedroom that we were truly sharing. Just every little thing. Fine-combing everything. Then it was trying to remember what might have been said when and where.
And then it was carefully trying to find out what exactly he's asking. But Icouldn't never really, never really find out anything because you don't want to dig too deep because when you dig too deep you become suspicious. People become suspicious of you. Why are you wondering about this? What does it matter to you? If nothing is wrong then what do you have to worry about? Type of deal. That certainly also put a bigger strain on the relationship I was having because now 01:22:00I'm saying, we need to really be careful when we walk out the door or we can't, PDA it's called, personal display of affection. No hand, we have to be very, very careful. And I just remember always being terrified. And kind of in a way shutting down in communication, talking to people because you don't want something to slip up.
TP: How else does it affect your relationship? How did your partner view this?Cause it sounds like there was a bit of, this caused a bit of a change or maybe not, maybe not a black and white change but things got a little more stringent.
CG: It did.
TP: How did that play out?
CG: It was almost like I got the feeling. I said that to her one night. I said,"I almost feel like you want me to get kicked out because then it would be just easier on you." I said, "I'm not ready for that. I still foresee my career, but now, I'm terrified of the future." She just always gave me that impression that she felt like it would be easier if I did get kicked out. I said, "No, that's not how I feel." I was getting bitter towards her because of that.
TP: How did it feel to be drawn to the work? I guess maybe there's a better wayof saying it, what was it that drew you so strongly to the work that you would tolerate putting your personal life? Which by now you've become much more comfortable with in a very short amount of time. Putting it in such a box on a shelf to some extent. What was it about it that you liked so much? What drew you so much to it?
CG: This sense of pride. This sense of I wanted to serve. I wanted-- I wanted to01:24:00be part of the military family. It's this-- it's a family you're a part of but, it's a disjointed family but it's a family. And it's this, I knew you know you have a uniform to wear. I don't have to decide what I'm going to put on every day. You had to know the job you're going to. You-- everything is laid out for you. You have the sense of purpose. This immense, as cops you have to wear your uniform a certain way. You always have to, because you're representing the military. You're at the gates checking people. So you're, it's this intense sense of pride. It's this-- I loved it. I felt, that part of me felt like I belonged.
TP: But- it was creating quite a strain?
TP: You said you started resenting your girlfriend at the time for that?
CG: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
TP: How is it like feeling that?
CG: It's lonely because you know you always have to watch who you're talking toanyways at work. So now, my private life, it's like you really have no one to talk to. My family is in Washington State. The people that I know are mostly military related. People are always being deployed. It's not like the individuals that I initially connected with were there. It was very lonely.
TP: It sounds like you had no support system other than your partner?
TP: So- back to this sergeant, what did you, what steps did you take? How didyou start having these delicate conversations and asking these delicate questions that could incriminate you?
CG: Sure. It would be during a shift we'd work. I'd kind of ask, "Have you heardanything more? Do you know, kind of, specifically what he's asking?" It was mainly only two individuals I would ask that because I was really afraid to draw more attention to me. But it was one of those two individuals that also told me about another gay airman who had admitted to being gay to the commander and ended up getting an honorable discharge. So my first reaction when I heard that was, wow, that was really brave, pretty much outing yourself and basically taking the risk of what would happen. The other part of me thought why would you want to do that? Why would you want to leave? Why would you want to go through whatever you had to go through to do that?
So I went through a mix of emotions about that, that information. Then the moreI thought about it, hearing that that individual got an honorable discharge, it was almost like seeing a light at the end of the tunnel because I had no control at this point. I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't know if anything would happen. I didn't know if at some point maybe I would get deployed somewhere else, to another base, get stationed at another base and maybe their commander was a lot more strict or harsher about things.
So I started playing around with different options in my mind of what I can do,01:28:00trying to gain some sense of control. That's the first time when I started thinking about doing the admission. I knew- I didn't know to the extent that I know now. I didn't-- I knew that it was bad to have a dishonorable discharge on your records. So having the honorable insight was something I kept in back of my mind. I still was trying to figure out ways that I could maybe not do that, not leave, but I was terrified of the what-ifs. I was 22 years old at that time. I didn't know what kind of future I would have anymore.
And what would-- You know, if I get stationed somewhere else or what if thatsergeant did end up having pictures and anonymously drop them off? What if my girlfriend got bitter and decided to say something to someone or anything like that? I had a million possibilities going through my head at that time. I felt no sense of control at that moment.
TP: Did you-- This airman that you had heard about, was that at Beale?
TP: Because of this story, did you ever try to look into that person or did youever reach out to that person?
CG: I tried to find out if that individual was still in the area but they werenot. So yeah, I was hoping to talk to that individual to find out what the process were, what other options there might have been? What were the circumstances that that came about? I never was able to get a hold of that 01:30:00individual. So that's where the next scary thing came in because if you decide to do this, who do I talk to? That this remains within, between those individuals and not just, what if I reach out to the wrong person and start this whole process and I don't get the end results that I'm hoping might happen with the honorable discharge?
TP: So based on this information that you received, it sounds like, and maybeit's just condensing down but, it sounds like you went from planning your future to being fairly convinced that you didn't have an actual actionable future in the military very quickly. How-- and is that, I was projecting, how quickly was that and what was it like? How did that realization turn? What was the pivot?
CG: It happened I would say within a month's time of first hearing that sergeantask things about me. Because I was hearing it all the time, like I was constantly being pulled aside of hey, he's asking, he's asking, he's asking. So it was this pressure I was feeling, and it was probably within three weeks after I heard the initial start of him trying to find out things about me that I heard about that airman.
TP: Did you know this sergeant? I'm curious to know if you had any one-on-one01:32:00interactions with him.
CG: No. That's why I was so bothered about it. That's why the only thing I couldever relate to it was basically the accomplishments I was having because I really loved what I was doing. I could never find out what the reasoning was, why he took an interest in me all of a sudden. And I think that's what bothered me too because I didn't have a reason of why it was happening. So no, not really. I knew him because he was on the flight. Passerby, hi, I know this is so and so. We all have names on our uniforms. I know that, but other than that, no, and that's what really bothered me. To this day I don't know why. It's always haunted me. It's always there.
TP: But it sounds like based on how you described it, it wasn't a casual?
TP: You said that you were, there were constant updates about him continuing to ask?
CG: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
TP: It wasn't just one or two comments?
BR: An in-depth inquiry?
CG: Yes exactly.
TP: Was this-- Did this have anything to do with his duties?
CG: Not that I'm aware of. Yeah, not that I'm aware of at all.
BR: This is all extracurricular on his own time?
TP: It wasn't an internal affair? It was on a personal?
CG: Not that I'm aware of. Right, mm-hmm (negative).
TP: Other than not knowing why, how else did this make you feel?
CG: I was angry because it was interfering with what I was doing at the time.I'd been in the military a year and a half, but you're still in your honeymoon 01:34:00phase almost in a way. You're still embracing it all and you're still setting goals. It's not like I'd been in it for a while. No, I was going up and I was mad. I was angry at him. I couldn't confront him about it. I couldn't talk about it. I couldn't find out the reason why. That really frustrated me.
TP: So within-- you said three weeks in after first hearing you had heard aboutone of your colleagues said, "Hey, there's an airman who had come out."
TP: Within-- It sounds like about a week or so after that, you transitioned overinto this idea that that was you, you in your words I believe said there was light at the end of the--
CG: Right. Because not having that, I never thought about leaving. In my head, Iwas there for a long time. So all of a sudden, that's being jeopardized and I don't know in what way it's going to be jeopardized. Am I going to get kicked out? Am I going to be reprimanded? Am I going to be sent to another base? I don't know how they're going to deal with it. It's-- I didn't know how it was going to be dealt with. And I-- Back then, the internet wasn't really quite what it is now. So it's not like I just get on my smartphone and look at things that will happen. I didn't know where to get resources from. So that was my only resource. And I just remember thinking, but if I do this then at least I know at this base, with this commander, this is how he handled it and maybe, hopefully that's how he'll handle mine. And then at least I'll be okay for the future. That's what I thought.
TP: This is in, I don't know if this is the way to ask this, but do you feel asyou were coming to this decision, was it more out of escaping fear? Was it more 01:36:00out of taking control?
CG: I think it was a little bit of both. I wanted to determine my future which Icouldn't, kind of, anymore. That, kind of, gave me that chance. But, yeah it was a little bit of both definitely, absolutely.
TP: And you were still with your girlfriend through this? That relationship wasstill going?
TP: How did she? Were you talking with her about this? Was it something that youdidn't talk with her about it?
CG: I didn't talk to her about that part because I didn't know what her answerwas going to be to that. I didn't want her to say yes, that's what you should do, because even though by the end of that week I had pretty much made up my mind, I was still conflicted about it every single day.
TP: So then what?
CG: Then I wrote a letter to my first sergeant. I basically gave an admissionthat I was gay. My first sergeant came to me with the letter and said, "We can rip this up here now and never speak of it again." And I was stunned by his reaction. I was stunned by him doing that. He said, "I'll never forget it." Because he said, "I can tell that you like what you're doing and I feel like you're going to achieve a lot." I said, "But who are you to secure me that future? If something happens where I don't say this, where someone else accuses me or brings proof, pictures whatever, then how are you going to secure me my future in the military?" 01:38:00
He said, "Well I can't." And I said, "Right. You're exactly right. I need tofollow through on this, because I'm not risking getting a dishonorable discharge. I'm not risking my future. I can't. I don't know what that entails. Before I knew what my future entailed. Now, I don't. And before I had a sense of control of it and now I don't. But I kind of have a hope of what the outcome will be if I do this, and you can't guarantee me that."
TP: Can you describe your relationship? This was your immediate superior?
CG: This was the first sergeant.
TP: Can you describe your relationship with him prior to this?
TP: Then because you said his reaction surprised you a little bit.
CG: It only did, I didn't expect him to come to him and say, "Here, let's makethis disappear. You writing this admission. Let's make this disappear." I didn't expect him to say that. And quite honestly I didn't know if it was maybe also a let's make this disappear and this is going to happen some other way then. I didn't know where this was going to go. I did have a good encounter with him prior to that. We had to transport someone to a mental hospital and he was the first sergeant on duty and was responsible for that individual. And I was taking them to the facility and we just had a really good experience with that. We had a good connection. We were talking.
And at the end of that trip, he ended up giving me his, there are these coinsyou have in the military. He ended up giving me his first sergeant coin. So it was-- I was really honored by that, little enlisted me and I have a first sergeant coin. That was really cool. That was the only encounter I ever had with him. But like I said, I was surprised because of, I don't know, I just didn't 01:40:00expect that response. I just figured it would just continue from there and whatever would happen.
TP: So what-- he was your-- I guess, why him? Why was he? Because of theprotocol as you perceived it, why was he the one who received the letter? And then where did you see, how did you see those connections working? How was it supposed to go?
CG: That's a very good question. Probably because of that encounter now that Itell you that story is probably why I felt most comfortable giving it to him, perhaps. Other than that, I can't think of a reason why it was him I picked to give it to. I felt most comfortable with him. I didn't feel comfortable with my unit supervisor, my direct chain of command supervisor. I'm not 100% sure, but I'm sure that has to something to do with it.
TP: Is it and you alluded to this I think earlier. You said that this, that wasa big decision though because your, even though you didn't have a lot of resources available and of the many things that the military writes down into steps and procedures, how to do this apparently was not one of them, at least not one you can find, right?
TP: That was a big decision you said because you felt that the person, the firstpoint of contact on this chain could potentially color the outcome significantly?
TP: And so you chose him based on this experience where he clearly saw yourvalue as a person, as a soldier?
CG: Correct, yeah.
TP: And so your response to him, how did he-- what did he do after that? Aftergiving you an opportunity maybe to save your career in his view. 01:42:00
CG: Right. He said he understood. He said I was right that he couldn't guaranteeanything especially if I got stationed at another base or what not. I told him. I said I was scared. I didn't know what to do. Obviously now he knows something about me that can get me kicked out of the military. How do you just make that go away? You can't.
TP: Did you discuss the sergeant who had been inquiring into you with him?
TP: You didn't?
CG: I did not.
TP: Did you-- What did you discuss with him as far as your fears? What were they from?
CG: I just told him I didn't know what the outcomes would be if I didn't do itthis way. It's like when you go to a court of law and you admit guilt, you don't get quite as much of a hard sentence as you do when you say you're not guilty and you're found guilty type of deal. That's the best way to describe how I felt. He then told me that the next step would be that he would have to give it to the legal counsel and the commander, the letter that I wrote. Legal counsel would then get in touch with me, which is what happened.
TP: How long did that take?
CG: About a week or two maybe. It was fairly fast.
TP: So-- I guess what form did that take? How did that, whether it was a letteror conversation. How did things start moving from there?
CG: One of the legal counsel got in touch with mean basically, just laid outwhat would happen from there. That I would be separated from my unit. That I would be-- I probably wouldn't be able to attend the reward ceremony where I was getting the achievement medal. And that the discharge process would happen where 01:44:00it's a whole errand of things that you do. And I just remember never really asking them any questions. It was-- I just wanted to be over with by then, because being pulled away from the unit obviously everybody knew something was going on. And I didn't want to discuss what it was because people are by nature curious. They're going to ask. I didn't want to talk about it.
I remember running into, there is a sergeant that-- because we're talking a yearand a half, almost two years, not quite two years into my service where a mentor more or less gets assigned to you and a few airmen. It helps you through the process of getting acclimated to the military. I remember running into him after I was separated from the unit. He looked me in the eye. He told me how disappointed he was in me. Then walked away. And I remember being incredibly torn up about that because I had a lot of respect for him. And he did, he had helped these new people get to know the way of the military, what to expect and what not. So that, that really hurt. That stung deep and I haven't spoken to him since.
TP: Why do you think he said that?
CG: I don't know because I don't know what he knew at that point. I don't knowif he knew I was getting out or I don't know why, if he knew why I was getting out. So knowing he was disappointed in me and not really knowing why, further, kind of, stung.
TP: So it sounds like one, it did follow how you expected. Once that ball got01:46:00rolling, I mean the legal counsel didn't come and discuss options with you.
TP: It was, this is how we're going to discharge you.
CG: Yes pretty much so.
TP: You said immediately you were separated from your unit.
CG: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
TP: Can you describe what that looked like? What that felt like?
CG: Well before, I worked with them security detail at the gates or patrolling.I basically worked in the office where we gave out the, where we made the IDs for people, the military IDs. So it was still part of the Security Forces duty, but it was normally a cushion job that a sergeant would like to have for, to not have to do any of the heavy lifting type of thing. But it was also a position where you didn't have your weapons or anything. So you were stripped of everything. It was all shaming in a way because it felt like even though I was working with this sergeant in the office, this really cush thing, everybody knew that you weren't allowed to have your weapons anymore. That you weren't part of the rest of it.
TP: So you were removed, you rescinded your weaponry not because of the positionbut because of the discharge process?
TP: Is that something that happens with normal discharge processes?
CG: I don't know. I don't think so. I'm not 100% sure. Because if I think aboutother airmen that worked in that unit that got discharged, they just worked with the rest of the unit usually and then-
TP: They would have definitely had a weapon had they been a guard.
TP: So in the case of normal honorable discharges, if someone was getting out,they were still, they served at the time and then they walked out the door and here's my gun?
CG: Exactly. Here's my stuff. Here is my badge. Here, right exactly. Exactly. Soit was a definite separation from everybody else. 01:48:00
TP: What happened next?
CG: I met one more time with legal counsel after all the other processes thatyou go through with the regular discharge. As in, I'm talking paperwork and what not. Where they gave me the papers of the DD-214 which is your discharge papers. And that's where I saw for the first time what it said. It was an honorable discharge which I was happy about, but on the same token, right next to it, it says homosexual admission. At the time, I didn't think much of it. I didn't like that I had this military paperwork that said that. I didn't think that much of it. I didn't realize how much of an impact that would play later in life.
Now, when I apply jobs and they require you to bring your DD-214 in, they havethat right there and since there are still job discriminations where you can get fired for being gay, that's basically outing myself right here at an interview immediately. You know, like because there's some places where I've worked security or even for the state where you have to prove, they just require that type of paperwork if they know you are former military and some jobs you need to have former military experience. So really you don't have no choice but to bring that. So it's immediately outing myself and I don't really like that.
TP: Understandable. We'll double back. I want to double back on that a littlebit too.
TP: So then you received that it was an honorable discharge?
CG: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
TP: So your plan to the extent that you had planned it worked in a way?
TP: How did that feel?
CG: It was a sense of relief because I didn't have to worry about that, but it01:50:00was also a huge feeling of loss. Up until that point I knew where I was, well I thought I knew where I was going to go in life. These goals I had set. Now I didn't know where I was going to go, what I was going to do. So it was just an incredible sense of loss.
TP: What did you end up doing? What was your-- What became plan B at that point?
CG: Plan B initially became I lived, for about a year my girlfriend remainedtogether. We lived in Nevada, lived in Nevada and in California, but the stress of everything that happened, at some point we broke up. And I packed my stuff and moved back to Washington State about a year later after that. And Just moved in with my parents and continued school.
TP: So you went back to school? Was it-- Where?
CG: That was at Pierce College in Washington State to finish up my criminaljustice degree.
TP: Okay and at what point post discharge or during discharge, at what point didyou realize the significance of you being discharged just prior to the two-year mark?
CG: When I went back to college because of the GI Bill. You have to serve atleast two years to receive the GI Bill and I wasn't able to get that now because it was right before my two-year mark. And so it was little things like that throughout the years that would happen that would make me realize the losses I have incurred because of it.
TP: Had you known that, because how short of two years were you?
CG: I joined in February '99. I got out in September of 2000 so five months,01:52:00yeah about, yeah.
TP: Had you known would you have tried to stick it out or does that not seem tenable?
CG: No, because of the circumstance of what happened.
TP: When you got back in this, how did you feel about this? You had about a yearafter your decision in Arizona?
CG: In California and Nevada.
TP: I'm sorry, Nevada, not Arizona, Nevada. I'm sorry and you said the strain ofthe decision partially led to?
TP: How were you coming to grips with this? What was it? One of our standardquestions is what was it like coming home? What was it like assimilating back into civilian life? With you, it was because of a very specific decision that you made.
TP: How was that?
CG: I didn't know what to do. I didn't. I just worked odd jobs here and there. Ireally didn't know what to do for a while. And even though my girlfriend was glad that I was out of the military now, she knew I wasn't happy necessarily about how everything transpired and everything happened. There was this loss of my sight and this devastation but also a little bit of bitterness in a way towards both her and the military. So lonely, not knowing what to do which is probably why essentially I just packed my bags and just moved back in with my parents in Washington State.
TP: So you're in college at Pierce College in Washington. You finishedbachelor's degree then?
TP: Where did life take you from there?
CG: From there, I entered a life, when I moved back, it wasn't until WashingtonState. I was single again. So I left Washington State a straight woman, came back a gay woman and discovering a whole new world. I don't know how to approach 01:54:00women. I don't know how that works now. So that's a whole new thing that I try to work with and figure out. But in 2005, my parents wanted to move to Tennessee. My Dad was originally from there. He grew up there and so because, even though I came back to Washington State where all my friends were, I had a hard time connecting with them because one, I didn't know what to do with myself. Two, there's this other side of me that you're my straight friends, I want to get to know more gay people. I don't know how to do that type of thing. So I liked the idea of going to a new place. I go from Washington State to Tennessee.
So now, in a not so gay friendly place, I meet the love of my life who I'm withnow going to college there. I was pursuing a bachelor's degree which I got in psychology. Then from there, her job took us to Kentucky which in our eyes was much better than Tennessee. My parents ended up buying a house in Kentucky. Her family is from West Virginia. We started looking into more diverse places and ended up in Columbus in 2010.
TP: When you were back in Washington, did you ever get a sense of freedom? Ifeel like you were searching for it. When you came back, it certainly it didn't seem like you got it when you were in Nevada.
TP: If anything that was-- that ends up sounding kind of like a denouement toyour military service.
TP: Did you ever feel that sense of relief for freedom? Did you ever at this01:56:00point? At what point, I assume that you did knowing you now. At what point did you get to the point where you were, "I can be me. I can be who I am without any caveats, auspices, restrictions"?
CG: You're right. It would have been when I went to Washington State because itis a distance. It was away from the people I knew that had connected me to that experience. So absolutely yeah, it was going back there.
TP: And how were your-- it sounds like your parents were very supportive of youinitially coming out. How were they about your decision to leave? What were those conversations like?
CG: They were just worried for me. They were very supportive about it. You know,they wished that I wouldn't have had to go through that. But just like me, we were all kind of relieved that it ended the way it did in terms of getting the honorable discharge because certainly it could have gone differently. So they were just relieved.
TP: Do-- So civilian life, you end up in Tennessee. Ironically meeting the loveof your life in Tennessee, which is great. You mentioned this earlier about how your DD-214 follows you. Can you-- Are there other ways in which your, the circumstances of your, either your military experiences or the circumstances of your discharge affected your civilian life?
CG: Sure. I tend to not always, when someone asks how long you've served, theeasy answer for me is four years. It's a standard term of serving. I don't like to say less than that because then I have to get into why. I don't, especially 01:58:00with another service person, I don't always feel like getting into that conversation, given certain circumstances.
TP: And a year term is a dead give-away?
CG: Right. Even though I am open and I don't mind talking about things, there'sa time and place for things. So it's things like that, the DD-214. But even still, it's that you know, again that part of me I like to admit that I was in the military. Then sometimes I don't want to have been part of it because of what happened with you know "Don't ask, don't tell" and then all those other types of circumstances.
TP: What.. a good bit of time between you having the experience you had during"Don't ask, don't tell" and then it's repeal. Were you in contact with other airmen? Did you follow a news? Did you-- were you aware of other things that were happening as far as the military and "Don't ask, don't tell" and things changing or were you completely?
CG: No. I followed it. I remember when I heard that they were talking aboutgetting rid of it I was really excited. There was both the excitement and scare now because where back then you know that I was envisioning the military being my life, now, there was that yay, let's get rid of this. Then there was the scare of if they get rid of it, then what if they recall all of us that got out under that circumstance? I'm in a different point in my life now. I don't want to be back there now anymore especially not going through what I had. But yeah, I always followed it. I always follow things like that. I wasn't in touch anymore with anybody really, but I was always following news about what would happen with that type of stuff.
TP: How real was the fear of being recalled?
CG: I don't think there was anything to it, but you never know.02:00:00
TP: So how did you feel when it was repealed?
CG: Excited. It was awesome. It was great. I'm excited for all those that canserve now and not have to worry about that. It's fantastic. I mean yeah, it's fantastic. It's great.
TP: Do you feel it's actually proven to be repealed? I know you're not servingnow but I guess has that excitement carried through? Has the promise of that? Have you seen it play-out or did you see any contrary?
CG: A little bit of both. I think it has played through. I mean, of course youstill hear those stories about where there's still harassment going on certainly. In terms of someone being bashed for being gay and what not, but I feel like it has. I feel like there's a lot more service men being more comfortable with it. Yeah, being out and open.
TP: The one thing that we wanted-- is there anything about either your serviceor your life in term of afterwards, I don't want to preclude you from talking to us about your life in Columbus or-- I guess you say you've been in Columbus since, when did you move to Columbus?
TP: 2010, Okay.
CG: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
TP: So not too long but long enough to see quite a few changes. What was it likecoming from the military, quite a hostile environment towards LGBT individuals?
TP: To moving to Tennessee. What that was like? To Kentucky. Then moving toColumbus in 2010.
CG: They were all culture shocks in terms of I moved from a very liberal state,02:02:00Washington State to, which I would describe as the Bible Belt. I lived in a university town that was also a military town. This is Clarksville, Tennessee where I went to Austin Peay State University. So there was a little bit of a gay community on campus, but it wasn't so much. It was hard to be off-base to do stuff. Not off-base, off-campus to do stuff because we're in Tennessee.
And the same thing with Kentucky. We didn't really have many gay friends orconnections in Kentucky. It was a smaller place. It was Owensboro, Kentucky. So coming to Columbus was great especially because you know I'm with my partner that I'm with now so it's experiencing this together. It's this diversity. It's not too big of a city that it's touristy. It's big enough to have enough going on. That there is a diversity of people, but it's not small like some other places we lived prior. So it's been an amazing experience. Initially, we thought we were just coming here for a little while, but we plan on staying here long-term now.
TP: What changed that?
CG: People here. We've made some incredible friendships and even though ourcircle still is largely straight, we have this amazing support here. It's just amazing people we've met here.
TP: So I guess the last question we had on the docket that we wanted to ask youabout was, can you talk about the recent Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage?
CG: Absolutely. It's very exciting. It's-- here is a good example I can giveyou. I would say about three years ago, we were talking about, my partner and I, were talking about gay marriage and she was convinced that it would never happen 02:04:00in our lifetime. And this is where I'm going to get emotional now. That's when I said to her, "I think it will happen in our lifetime but it won't happen until we're really, really old." We had planned on, our 10 year anniversary is this year. We planned on getting married then, but we thought we're going to go West Virginia of all places. But since that happened, now with the Supreme Court ruling we can get married here. So we're very excited to get married in October.
CG: Thank you.
TP: Has that changed how you think about your military service? We talked aboutthe dichotomy of serving a country that was actually discriminating against you.
TP: Has it reframed that at all?
CG: You know just that experience in general. I don't think it's so much that.It's everybody's overall opinions. you know a few years ago I remember when gay marriage was brought up, there was more percent against it than it was now. I just think it's the overall thing not so much that experience. But I also need to say I would never take that experience away. Even though it was a hard time, it was also the time strangely that I discovered me. That I discovered I was gay. I don't know in what way, I think it would have happened at some point but I don't know in what way it would have happened. And it's something that shaped me into who I am now. I would never take that back regardless of what I went through. Yeah.
TP: Is there anything we've not asked you that you'd like to tell us or discuss?
CG: Not that I can think of.
TP: I would like to say on behalf of all of us, thank you very much for your service.
TP: Congratulations on October.
CG: Thank you.02:06:00