To “Come Out” or not, it’s a Decision that Belongs to You
Now that the era of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has come to an end, the decision of “whom (or whom else) will I tell?” may understandably be on your mind. It’s good that you think about it and make intelligent decisions based on logic and not short-fused emotions. A few considerations for you to contemplate include:
When you meet other LGBT cadets, particularly those who are just coming to terms as to who they are, or you are just meeting other cadets like you for the first time, you might be excited to introduce them to your friends or “show them the ropes.” Although you might think you know what is best for someone else based on your personal experiences, you need to recognize that “coming out” is a very individualized process. We all come from different backgrounds. We were taught differently and were instilled with various values that may have significant role in one’s acceptance of who they really are.
“Outing” someone, for what ever reason either intentionally or inadvertently, even if only to the other LGBT cadets could be terrifying to those who are not yet totally comfortable about who they are. Although you may think you have been there, you are not in their shoes at the moment. You must be careful to listen to their personal needs and desires and not push them to go outside their personal comfort zone.
What has Changed now that “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” has Gone Away?
For your emotional and mental well being, this is huge, but for your personal day-to-day life, very little. The old rules specifically prohibiting “homosexual conduct” are now gone. But violating many of those rules, either in or out of uniform, will still be inappropriate in public, just as public displays of affection (PDA) have always been inappropriate for your straight peers. Now everyone is fairly playing by the same PDA rules.
Some of you may be experiencing some “anxiety” or “anticipation” as we enter this new era post DADT. If you want to “talk through this” in a safe conversation with a professional, the Cadet Clinic is there. They will keep your visit private, it won't go into your record nor get back to your AOC.
. . . more than any other page here at blue-alliance.org. There is a reason. The purpose of this page is not to scare or frighten you, but to make you more comfortable in your shoes as gay, lesbian or questioning cadets. We also want to ensure that you don’t do anything foolish that can jeopardize your health, well being and status as a cadet and future leader as an officer in the Air Force.
What you read here could be somewhat enlightening. And if you read and understand what's here, you might learn some things to help you become a more informed officer, and hopefully give you more confidence in being yourself. Whether you are straight or gay, at some time in your career as a Air Force Officer, you will most likely encounter a co-worker or a subordinate who is dealing with the personal issues of “coming out” and by having some understanding of what that really means and involves, you will be a better leader.
Here are the topics that we talk about:
It Isn’t Easy Being You
If you already identify as or are just beginning to think you might identify as a gay or lesbian cadet, you are by no means alone on the hill, although it might certainly seem to be so if you haven't already linked in with some of the dozens of others like you. Most of us have been in your shoes. We know that for many of you, it isn’t a fun experience to figure out that you aren’t who you thought you were, particularly if you have to work though the process alone on your own while “in the fishbowl” at the Academy. And if you are just now coming to terms with yourself, we know that it can affect your state of mind and hence your performance. On the positive side, times have changed and you no longer have to live with the constant fear of being tossed out of the Academy, losing everything you worked so hard to attain, only because of who you are.
You all need to know that Blue Alliance members take a great deal of personal pride in doing what we can to support the Cadet Wing, just as most all alumni do. But we really take an intense pride and interest in you as Lesbian and Gay cadets. We want you all to do well, your very best. You are all potentially positioned in this time of history to become the role models that most of us never had.
You Aren’t Crazy, nor Are You Trapped
We know how very difficult it can be for some of you to re-identify as gay or lesbian while at the Academy. It is those of you who are still all alone and know no others with whom you can comfortably and safely confide and share your thoughts that concern us most.
Again, you certainly are not alone! And before you take any drastic action (like resign) or act out on any thoughts of self destructive behavior, PLEASE visit the Cadet Clinic to talk with a mental health professional. These professionals are there for you, they will work with you confidentially, and NOT tell your AOC or others what you share with them.
If you are still uncomfortable sharing personal details about yourself even with mental health professionals, you can always visit the Clinic to talk with them about “a friend” at the academy about whom you have serious concern.
“Safe spaces” are places where you can be fully self-expressive without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe on account of being a LGBT or questioning cadet.
We know that many of the Faculty and Staff at USAFA are genuinely concerned about the LGBTQQ cadets, and we expect that at some time in the near future a formal “safe spaces” program will be available to you. You may also know your peers, professors, doolie sponsor parents, coaches, AOC officers and other staff well enough to get a feeling if they could be helpful or not.
We will share more information about a “safe spaces” program at USAFA on this page as soon as the information is available to us.
Please contact us via this website (select category “LGBT Friendly Zoomie Sponsors”) and we will do our best to make an introduction to one of the LGBT or LGBT-friendly sponsors in Colorado Springs.
Cadet Regulations spell out the rules regarding interpersonal conduct for cadets. As stated in the regs, these are gender-neutral rules, meaning they apply to your same sex relationships just as they do to your heterosexual peers. The Regs clearly spell out the personal relationships that are unduly familiar because they do not respect differences in grade, rank, position of authority, or the staff/student or officer/enlisted relationship are prejudicial to good order and discipline. These include your relationships with:
In the past, these inappropriate relationships were often “justified” or overlooked as by hiding one's sexual orientation somehow justified overlooking other regulations, too.. Enforcement was complicated as those who often had knowledge could not report violations without “outing themselves” and everybody else in the process. This barrier to good order and discipline is now gone with the elimination of the DADT policy. It is easiest for you emotionally to never start a relationship that cannot progress. We strongly recommend that you find another fish in the big tank.
With very few exceptions, we think it is a good idea to “come out” to your parents once you are sure of your sexual identity. You possibly think that you are this exception because you might come from a very conservative or perhaps very religious family, or perhaps it is not the right time, or you know your parents will reject you and stop loving you, but you probably are not the exception. When you hide a major portion of your life from your parents, you begin building a wall between you and them which will distance you from them. As time goes on, this wall will get higher, only becoming more difficult to knock down, even further dividing you from your parents.
Telling your parents is possibly not going to be easy for you. Just ask any of the other cadets or recent graduates how this went for them. Your parents might not like to hear what you say when you come out to them because it isn’t what they expected, nor what they want for you. For most parents, it will take some time for them to begin to understand. For some parents, it might be very hard for them to hear the reality, but your parents will probably want to protect you just as any parent would. Your parents need to know that you will be ok, and that you will still have a great career ahead of you.
There are parental support organizations such as PFLAG which might help your parents in the coming out process.
OK Mom & Dad, so you found this page, too
This webpage is intended to be “The Hook” for LGBT cadets, but we also know that lurkers and search engines are going to be reading what is here. So Mom & Dad, we know why you probably are here. As parents of a cadet, we know that you have an instinctual interest in your child's safety, security and success.
If you are the parent of a straight cadet, don't worry, neither the Air Force Academy nor the Air Force is going to turn your child gay, unless of course, your child is already gay, and then you can't blame the Air Force or Air Force Academy for that. Your child is going to be what he/she is, and no outside influence will be changing that. If you just found out that your son/daughter is gay/lesbian, and if you are like many parents, you might not understand what it means, you might be confused and you might not be very happy to have heard the news. First of all, you need to know that your son/daughter is really going to be OK. And though it might not have been what you wanted to hear from your child, we hope in the long term you will understand that keeping you in their life is a better alternative than than them building the wall and shutting you out of their lives. Letting you know is a sign that they trust you and/or that they need your support and love as a parent. Yes, there may be some lingering discrimination in the Air Force Service due to sexual identity, but as we go further into the era of equality for all service members, things will continually change for the better.
If you are looking for more information to help you understand, PFLAG might be a good resource as a starting place.
We know some of your are dating a person of the opposite sex while you finally come to terms with your sexual identity. We think the “right thing to do” is to let the other person know as soon as you are totally confident that you are gay/lesbian and realize that continuing the heterosexual relationship is not right for either of you. If your relationship has been very serious for a long time, the other person may have already begun to make choices in life and career that will forever lock-in their future professional and personal life.
Unless the feelings between you and the person whom you are dating are mutual, breaking up can be very hard to do. You may have already experienced rejection in a previous relationship and know how it can be bad news.
You will need to make the decision as to whether or not you should share that you are gay/lesbian. We think that for the majority of you, there are advantages by being totally truthful and few downsides. In an indirect way, your girlfriend/boyfriend was probably very much a part of your coming out to yourself, and they deserve the respect for having “helped” you through your personal coming out journey.
And unlike the dynamic of most heterosexual breakups, it is possible that you and your ex will become close friends forever.
Trust us, it is a really bad idea to date within Bancroft Hall. It will draw from your attention, energy and concentration which should be focused on doing your best as a cadet, academically and professionally. This probably sounds as though monks and nuns are writing this, but those of us before you have learned from our combined experiences that intra-Wing dating is just a really, really bad idea, just as it is a bad idea to date within the command once you hit the active duty. Unfortunately, too many of you will probably learn this yourself the hard way.
You only get one opportunity to be a cadet in your life. There are no do-overs, no try-agains. We hope that you will take full advantage of your youth during the special and exciting time that you will reflect upon once you finish USAFA.
’Nuff said about this.
Advice to LGBT candidates for Admission to the Air Force Academy
If you are in high school and are considering to be a candidate for entry into the Air Force Academy and are lesbian or gay or think you might be lesbian or gay, do not not let those feelings alone affect your decision on whether or not to apply for entry.
Within our “members only” pages of our site, we have additional advice for cadets which doesn’t appear on this page, not because we don't want the Academy or your parents to find it (we actually share our guidance to cadets with anyone at USAFA), but are precluding search engines from inappropriately referencing our site.
You certainly don't need to be “out” to join Blue Alliance. As misleading as the name of our organization is, we have many members who, for personal reasons, remain invisible on our roster, yet they have access to all members only content on our website. When you “join” Blue Alliance, you have the ability to remain invisible without exposing your identity to other members; you are only known to our three membership administrators, usually only the one administrator who does the verification of eligibility.
Blue Alliance welcomes every new member. All cadets are most welcome to join our ranks or contact any of our members here. Membership is open to ALL alumni of the US Air Force Academy, regardless of sexual orientation. A fair portion of our membership is straight alumni supporters. Hence, membership in Blue Alliance is NOT a statement of sexual identity. Our number one concern is YOUR safety and welfare, followed closely by your development as a future leader in our Air Force services..