don't tell hell

Should We Blame Don’t Ask Don’t Tell For Joseph Rocha’s Naval Abuse?

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You’ve met Navy vet Joseph Rocha on Queerty before. You also had a very strong response to his story, which included being forced to endure sexual harassment during his service before resigning to escape the horror. And yes, he served our country in Iraq the Middle East. Now he’s continuing to tell his his story of fright and terror.

He tells YouthRadio.org: “Thousands of miles away from the United States, being subjected to extreme humiliation by my own military leadership, I did not feel hatred. I felt fear. Fear they would hurt me and no one back home would ever know. I had no gay friends to talk with and no gay personal life. I was only 18 years old, and I was afraid if I told anyone, I would be kicked out for b eing gay. Eventually, someone a rank above me reported it, and there was an investigation that found dehumanizing pranks against me were habitual. I was preparing to testify, when I got a call from a Navy attorney telling me the case was dropped. So all I have to show for my abuse is a two inch packet of investigation findings and post traumatic stress disorder.”

It’s a harrowing story. And it’s certainly not the only one like it.

Not only did Rocha endure the harassment and torment from his fellow recruits, but then the Navy swept it under the rug. Because they didn’t want to hold up harassment charges against from a gay? Perhaps we’ll never know, but one thing is clear: Thanks to policies like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, institutional discrimination is still entirely reasonable.

(Photo: San Francisco Chronicle)