redemption

Discharged Marine Walker Burttschell Accepts Obama’s Handshake, And (An Unspoken) Apology

For every Dan Choi and Victor Fehrenbach, there’s a Walker Burttschell: discharged in 2003 for being gay, but without the national media attention that can come with it. (Indeed, the former Marine’s name appears in Queerty‘s archives only because he signed his name to the “Fuck You HRC” letter.) Burttschell was told he was no longer qualified to serve his country after a comrade “hacked into my email and threatened to out me to my commander,” he says, which sent him into a depression that ended up making things worse: “I panicked and became suicidal and was eventually hospitalized. I confided in my psychiatrist and the doctor outed me to my commander.” Lord. After being discharged, Burttschell became HRC’s South Florida field organizer in the fight against DADT, and we all know how that went. But on Wednesday, Burttschell was among the former servicemembers the White House wanted on hand when Obama issued the most awkward of apologies to gay heroes … by signing a bill (sort of) repealing the law.