Yesterday’s gala graduation ceremony at the U.S. Air Force Academy had a double reason to celebrate: the nation’s first group of openly gay cadets graduated, proudly tossing their hats high alongside their straight classmates.
Although the celebration was its usual glamorous affair with military jets roaring overheard and President Obama shaking each cadet’s hand, this historic moment for gays in the military was handled quietly and respectfully. No rainbow flags, no dramatic sashays up to the podium, no drawing attention. The gay cadets didn’t want to stand out.
Trish Heller, the head of a group of LGBT Air Force Academy Alumni called Blue Alliance, explained, “The whole thing is we don’t want to be identified as anything different. We want to serve, to be professional and to be symbols of what it means to be Air Force Academy graduates.” That gets our 5-Star salute and two snaps up!
Eight months after the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy got the boot, openly gay cadets have faced reassuringly little opposition. ABC News’ Devin Dwyer (who’s a cutie-patootie, by the way) interviewed graduates and faculty during the ceremony. Each painted a comforting picture describing that once gay cadets were willing and able to come out, the majority of their heterosexual classmates shrugged their shoulders, fully accepted their gay peers, and went on with their studies.
Although only four members of the 2012 graduating class have publicly come out as gay, there are most likely others who wish to stay low-key. Considering the troubled history against homosexuals in the U.S. military, the impact is touching and subtle when openly gay cadets can proudly receive their diploma as welcomed equals in our armed forces.
(Photo: Beverly & Pack/Flickr Creative Commons)