Gay Vet And DADT Activist Darren Manzella Dead At 36

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADarren Manzella, a gay combat medic discharged after publicly coming out in 2007, was killed in a traffic accident on Friday in western New York.

According to the AP:

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said Manzella was driving on Interstate 490 in suburban Rochester about 8:30 p.m. Thursday when his vehicle sideswiped a car. Deputies said he stopped his vehicle, got out and began pushing the car from behind. He was then hit by an SUV, pinning him between the two vehicles. He died at the scene.

Manzella enlisted in the Army in 2002 and was awarded the Combat Medical Badge for his service in Iraq. He came out in a December 2007 appearance on 60 Minutes, becoming the first openly gay service member on active duty to speak to the press from a war zone.

He was discharged in June 2008 for violating Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which would be repealed three years later. Free to serve openly, Manzella had recently joined the Army Reserves. “Being in the military and serving was a very important part of his life,” Manzella’s lifelong friend, Anne Colwell Colangelo told the Democrat and Chronicle. “He was very proud to be a soldier.”

Manzella is survived by his family as well as his husband, Javier Lapeira-Soto — the two had just gotten married in July.

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  • Dakotahgeo

    This is so sad. May Daniel rest in peace and his husband find comfort and grace to get through this period in life. Daniel was indeed a trailblazer. RIP, Daniel!
    Pastor Dak, M.Div. Pastor/Chaplain

  • Cagnazzo82

    So unfair to lose your life like that just one month after getting married.

    People just drive so carelessly it’s ridiculous. How do you hit a stationary car? Why?

    Anyway I hope this guy’s family and his husband find comfort in the fact that this guy’s legacy will live on in the form all the men and women who’ll be serving out and in the open and without fear of institutional repercussions from here on out.

  • Mr. E. Jones


    How do you hit a stationary car? Why?

    Rubber necking. I’m a courier and I’ve seen several accidents caused by people looking at other accidents. Most drivers are generally stupid, and give them something shiny to look at, and their IQ and driving skills drop further.

    A brave life ended too early by an act of kindness on his part.

  • Fawkes

    Cue the nasty little troll BJ McFrisky openly musing about how great it is that a pro-gay-marriage patriot who was not afraid to challenge the government is dead.

  • dvlaries

    Jesus. We’ve only begun to live at any 36. May he rest in peace and condolensces to his family and husband.
    Instinct makes me fear Westboro is already making hideous plans.

  • Joetx

    @Cagnazzo82: I’ve seen so many people distracted by their smart phones, swerving or drifting into other people’s lanes, running red lights or stop signs, etc. Hang up & drive, people!

    R.I.P., Darren. You did a very courageous thing, coming out when DADT was still the law. And I’m sure you saved many lives as a medic.

  • Fitz

    How horrible. His family should be proud of the tremendous things he did with 36 short years. May we all have his courage and integrity, and may we all remember this moment the next time we are driving and our iPhone bings.

  • Carlton Raines

    My thoughts to his partner and family,Such a sad loss of this brave young man

  • BrandoPolo

    There goes my hero. R.I.P. solider.

  • stranded

    what an awful way to go.

  • rcs831

    This just rips my heart out. The family, the poor family I feel so sorry for their loss. They are in my thoughts. I think I’m done with the internet today.

  • Stache1

    @stranded: I think he would’ve died pretty fast at least with an impact with an SUV at full speed

Comments are closed.