Though others had made similar realizations before, Navy pilot Tracy Thorne-Begland’s decision to come out about being gay came at the very height of Clinton-era gays-in-the-military debate.
After conferring with a gay-veterans group, Thorne-Begland agreed to go on ABC’s Nightline on May 19, 1992, where he revealed he was a homosexual. The following year, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell—rather than Clinton’s promised repeal—became the law of the land and Thorne-Begland was discharged. Twice actually—first after his TV appearance and again in 1995, when an appeal he filed in Federal Court was denied.
But Thorne-Begland turned his legal nightmare into a calling and enrolled in law school. Today works in the Richmond, VA, District Attorney’s office. He and his partner, Michael Thorne-Begland, live in Richmond with their young twins, Chance and Logan.
NEXT: A harrowing Catch-22