An Openly Gay American Soldier, If Only For 6 Months

QUEERTY YEAR IN REVIEW — Months after admitting to superiors that he was gay and showing them videotape of him making out with his boyfriend, Sergeant Darren Manzella found himself still in the Army.

Although ultimately Manzella, like so many others, ended up booted from the military branch, that it took the brass so long to can him shows that enthusiasm for the Pentagon’s long-standing “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is waning.

Looking to raise awareness, Manzella went on 60 Minutes last year.

Queerty wrote about the surprising quiet from the Pentagon following the interview.

“Soldier Darren Manzella broke new ground by coming out on 60 Minutes. While one would expect some repercussions for such a public rejection of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Manzella says he’s been greeted by official – and welcome – silence. What’s more: he’s learned he’s not alone:

“I thought I would at least be asked about the segment or approached and told I shouldn’t speak to the media again,” says Manzella, 30, a medic who recently returned from Kuwait and plans to hold a news conference today in Washington to discuss the military’s silence. He says he is among a growing number of servicemembers who have told other troops and even commanders they are gay and have not been discharged.”

But by June, Manzella found himself discharged:

“Despite the hubbub, Manzella returned to active duty and, at the time, it seemed that the government had no plans of ousting him. Unfortunately that was not the case and Manzella received his walking papers last week.

While the military brass didn’t approve of Manzella’s man-loving, he says his peers didn’t seem to mind. On the contrary – they were “proud!”

“After my appearance on 60 Minutes I received a lot of support from most of my colleagues. Some were surprised that I made such a public statement but told me that they were proud of me for standing up for people who could not speak out. To them, I was still SERGEANT Manzella though. I really didn’t notice a change in how I was treated or viewed.”

Nowadays, Manzella works to educate about the costs DADT has on today’s military. Recently he spoke to a crowd of military officials in Mission Hills, California, saying:

“It’s very costly. I was in the military for six and a half years, and I was trained and trained and trained and trained and then I was pulled out. So now my training, all the money that went toward that, is lost. What do they have to do? They have to train somebody else to take my place. And that’s not just me; that’s the 12,500 men and women who have been discharged.”