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Gay former Marine calls policy repeal proud moment

Posted September 20, 2011

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— A Fayetteville man who served in the Marines when the "don't ask, don't tell" policy went into effect said Tuesday that the policy's repeal is long overdue.

Don Barefoot called the end to the 18-year policy that barred openly gay people from serving in the military the third proudest moment of his life, behind only graduating from boot camp and publicly admitting his sexual orientation.

"It's bringing integrity and honor to the military service, I think," said Barefoot, who was honorably discharged from the Marines after 2½ years.

He served with Justin Elzie, the first Marine discharged after "don't ask, don't tell" went into effect in 1993. Even before the policy, Barefoot said, life in the service for someone openly gay was difficult, if not terrifying.

"I had watched some friends of mine get beat within an inch of their lives for being gay, and the Marine Corps did nothing against it," he said.

He described how military police at Camp Lejeune kept track of personnel during off hours.

Man recalls harrowing life as gay Marine Man recalls harrowing life as gay Marine

"We would go to the gay bar, and the military police would go in the parking lot and write down license plates. So, we would take cabs," he said. "Now, you can't make a bar off limits for being a gay bar."

Although some current and former military members say doing away with the policy will harm U.S. fighting forces, Barefoot and others said "don't ask, don't tell" has hurt countless people who only wanted to serve their country proudly.

"We have a lot of military people who come here for the weekends to go out for the weekends or to be themselves. I think we're going to see more openess as far as coming in your military (uniform), not so much taking it off before you get here," said Bobby Hilburn of the LGBT Center of Raleigh.

Area military recruiters couldn't say whether the policy change would affect the number of men and women enlisting, but they said they would treat everyone with dignity and respect, regardless of sexual orientation.

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  • dontgetmestarted Sep 22, 2011

    If I remember it takes 8 support soldiers to support 1 infantryman. Therefore, there are a whole lot of support personnel than infantry ( the guys who actually fight the wars). There have always been gays and lesbians in support role but I guarantee gays (no women-no lesbians in infantry) will not serve openly. Infantry guys live and shower in very close quarters and must depend on each other to stay alive and will not tolerate open gays.
    loprestw

    This is the main reason I don't agree with the repeal, personally. I do NOT hate gays, etc...so please do not accuse me of being "intolerant". I don't think women and men would be allowed to such close quarters (showering, etc...) for obvious reasons so why would they expect it to be different for gays/straight men? I know that gays aren't attracted to all men just because they are gay but that also applies to straight men/women and they aren't allowed in close quarters so it's no different. Not good for moral nor psychological wellbeing

  • dontgetmestarted Sep 22, 2011

    Why don't we all (heterosexuals and homosexuals alike) do what is appropriate and keep our sexual preferences and anything related where they should be...the BEDROOM! No, I'm not a prude nor do I hate homosexuals, I just feel no one needs to know your sexual preference but your partner or whomever you may be interested in,etc... Other's have no need nor do they wish to know these things, people. It's not archaic to have common decency. Why do people (homosexuals AND heterosexuals) find the need to publicly display their sexuality in the first place?

  • skinnygranny Sep 21, 2011

    :Why do gays want to openly flaunt their sexual orientation. Straight people don't." whatusay Have you been hiding under a rock? Have you never seen a bunch of guys heckling a woman as she walks by? Get real."

    When is the next "STRAIGHT PRIDE" parade in raleigh????

  • skinnygranny Sep 21, 2011

    Disgusting.

  • jenforthewin Sep 21, 2011

    "Proud moment for the "gays"... but what about the other 95% of Americans who aren't gay??"

    Speak for yourself. I'm a straight person who is glad this archaic rule is gone, and honesty is restored to the military. I'm proud we finally moved into the 21st century.

  • Let-it-be-said Sep 21, 2011

    Is this really an issue.... Don't we have better stuff to discuss?

  • simplelogic Sep 21, 2011

    "Why do gays want to openly flaunt their sexual orientation. Straight people don't."

    Seriously? Just take a quick glance at the magazine section at the grocery store. Watch tv for 10 seconds. It's EVERYWHERE. You just don't notice it because you're so used to it. Just for fun, imagine (if you can) everytime you see anything sexual on any form of media, that it's homosexual instead of heterosexual. Maybe that will open your eyes to just how pervasive it is.

  • e2brtus Sep 21, 2011

    in vietnam we had a "Doc" or medic that saved my and many others lives…i really don't think any of us cared that he enjoyed wearing pink boxers while on R&R. i still love this man as do they rest of us who came home. and BTW,the 1st time i wore my uniform on Hillsborough St. near the Bell Tower, i was spit on….no parades for us and not once did anyone shake my hand,buy me a beer or say thank you.hell,i couldn't get waited on at Sadlacks Subs.

  • Shamrock Sep 21, 2011

    :Why do gays want to openly flaunt their sexual orientation. Straight people don't."
    whatusay

    Have you been hiding under a rock? Have you never seen a bunch of guys heckling a woman as she walks by? Get real.

  • whatusay Sep 21, 2011

    Why do gays want to openly flaunt their sexual orientation. Straight people don't.

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