The people with whom I’ve worked in the Special Operations community are more concerned with an individual’s contribution to the team, and their ability to do their job exceptionally well, than their race or sexual preferences. It’s meritocracy in its purest form, and a wonderful example set by the Special Operations community, from which others can and should learn.
Gays in Special Operations existed long before the inception and eventual death of Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell (DADT). And while politicians and religious fanatics made a fuss about gays serving in the military, these men and women proudly served their country in silence, and earned the respect of their peers until DADT was eventually repealed.
I was a BUD/S 215 classmate of Brett Jones, had no idea he was gay at the time, and I am proud to call him my friend. His story is below. -Brandon Webb, Editor-in-Chief, SOFREP.com
“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” -General George S. Patton
My Name is Brett Jones, I Am A Navy SEAL, And I Am Gay
“The alarm is always too loud,” I thought to myself as I rolled over to turn off the annoying, illuminated noise machine. Making the decision to not take a shower for a little more sleep was an easy one. Last night’s dive was long and cold. Since I was going to be back in the water soon enough, staying dry for now was a must.
It took a second try to get my Jeep to start in the morning cold. The heater finally got warm just as I was entering the front gate of the Naval Amphibious Base in Norfolk, Virginia. After I parked in front of the SEAL Team 8 building, I grabbed my phone and started listening to my voicemail, watching as, one-by-one, people arrived at work.
“Hey Brett, this is Mike, we met at the Cactus and I was wondering if you’re doing anything tomorrow night. Give me a call back.” “Nice!” I thought as I closed the flip phone and nervously glanced around the parking lot as if somebody could have heard that voicemail. I had met Mike at a gay bar in Virginia Beach the week prior. He must have called last night when I was on my dive.
The Navy had a Don’t-ask Don’t-tell policy (DADT), and I had met a number of people at gay bars in the area who still had been dishonorably discharged for it. Being a Navy SEAL and gay proposed its own set of problems. Fortunately for me, it was not obvious to people that I was gay. If I wanted to go out on a date with Mike (which I did), I was going to have to do some serious lying.
First, I was going to have to lie to my SEAL teammates. I absolutely hated it when I did that. It was Friday and they would no doubt try to get me to go out with them after our last dive. Second, I was going to lie to Mike, because there is no way in hell I was going to tell him truthfully what I did and who I worked for. I’m not proud of the lies, but living under the rule of DADT left me few options in such a small close-knit community.
Being gay is not a choice. In fact, I can remember countless nights of restless sleep praying for God to help me find women attractive in that way. As Garth Brooks says, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are un-answered prayers.” Though it took me a while to fully understand, I know now, that our diversity is one of the greatest gifts this world has to offer.
It can be very difficult to accept who you are, especially in an environment that has a history of treating LBGT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender) people negatively. At the time, the thought of my teammates discovering my secret was terrifying. Eventually, I was forced out of the closet to my SEAL team, and I discovered that it was not as bad as I had made it in my mind. Sure, there were guys who would whisper and talk behind my back, but overall my SEAL brothers supported me. For that, I will always be thankful. It was because of that support, from my brothers, that I could proudly say, “My name is Brett Jones, I am a Navy SEAL, and I am gay.”