For over two years (2008-2010) I visited with, photographed and recorded the stories of 65 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Veterans.


Proud to Serve is dedicated to all the brave men and women service members who used to serve in silence, and had to hide and lie about who they were and who they loved.

 

Order a signed copy of Proud to Serve photo zine!

Corporal Robert Potter

was drafted into the Army in 1946 and re-enlisted shortly after to serve from 1946-1947 in the Army Air Force. He deployed to Japan and Korea. He is a member of the Alexander Hamilton Post #448 of the American Legion, the only gay post recognized by the American Legion.

San Francisco, California
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Airman 1st Class Kelsey Snipes

joined the Air Force in 2009 and was training to be an aerospace medical services apprentice (medic), stationed at Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls, Texas. Kelsey was discharged at the end of 2009 after her roommate accused her of homosexual conduct. Clovis, New Mexico

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Lance Corporal Jeff Key

joined the Marine Reserves in 2000, at the age of 34. After the terrorist attacks of 2001 his unit made preparations for activation and in March 2003 deployed to Eastern Iraq. Two months later, Jeff was flown back to the United States for surgery. He decided to leave the military because of his concerns about the things he had observed in Iraq. On March 31, 2004, he went on CNN as Paula Zahn’s guest and spoke out using the ban on gays in the military to be discharged. Salt Lake City, Utah

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Staff Sergeant Bryan Clark

was in the Marine Corps Reserves from 1984-1987. Bryan served on active duty beginning in 1987 and after several deployments and numerous service medals, he was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 1996. Lakewood, Colorado

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Tech Sergeant Camille Davidson

joined the Air Force in 1979 at the age of 34, sworn in one day before she would no longer be eligible for service.She served in the Mobile Aerial Port Unit (MAPS) and was responsible for packing, transporting, and loading cargo to support missions. She also served as a pharmacy and medical records technician. After 23 years of service she retired honorably in 2004. San Diego, California

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Corporal Mark Setser

joined the Marine Corps in 1990 with a specialization in refrigeration/A.C. repair. He later served as a driver of a Combat Rubber Reconnaissance Craft (zodiac boat) in Okinawa, Japan. Mark decided not to re-enlist because of the strains of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He was honorably discharged in 1998 after completing four years of active duty and four years of inactive duty service. St. George, Utah

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Corporal Brett Edward Stout

joined the Marine Corps in 1997. He studied Russian at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. Corporal Stout was stationed at Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Base, Hawaii as a Russian cryptologic linguist and weapons marksmanship instructor. He was honorably discharged in 2002. Brett published his first novel Sugar-baby Bridge in 2006. Long Island, New York

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Bronwen

enlisted in the Coast Guard in 2002. She entered the US Coast Guard Academy in

2004. Though she flourished at the academy, her tenure would come to an abrupt end when a classmate decided to out her to her command. She had the choice to sign a waiver of denial, but she felt her honesty and integrity were more important. She refused to sign the document and was discharged from the Coast Guard a few weeks later. Staten Island, New York

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Lieutenant Colonel Sharie Russell(L) and Lieutenant Colonel Denise Jacinto (R)

both served in the Army Military Police Corps.Denise served from 1976 - 1996. She was one of the first women assigned to a combat division and served as the first division provost marshal on Ft. Hood with the 2nd AD. Sharie served from 1974 - 1995. She was the former commander of a 1200-soldier battalion. They both ended their military careers, retiring in order to be together. They have been together for 22 years.   Lincoln, Alabama

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Staff Sergeant Jeff Carnes

served in the Army as an Arabic linguist from 1997-2004. He was in Kosovo with the 1st Armored Division in 2000-2001and in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division in 2003. No longer wanting to hide who he was, Carnes retired from the military after serving in the Army Reserves from 2004-2006. Washington, D.C.

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Seaman Jonathan Marcantel

enlisted in the Navy in 1997. He was discharged in 1999 after he came out to his ship’s doctor while serving on the U.S.S. Gettysburg in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Fox. Crystal’s Nightclub, Lake Charles, Louisiana

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Private 1st Class Kai Azada

served in silence from 1982-1988 as an Army dental laboratory specialist. While in the Army, he reported a sexual harassment claim and was subsequently investigated for being a lesbian. The 1982 brain injury that derailed his life was not diagnosed until 2009. He is a 10-year member of the Alexander Hamilton Post #448 of the American Legion. Kai transitioned from female to male in 2000. KZSC Radio (UCSC campus), Santa Cruz, California

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Airman Chivonn Anderson

served in the Air Force from 2000-2004 as an aerospace ground mechanic.

She prepared cargo and personnel for deployment during Operation Iraqi Freedom. During that time she and a fellow gay service member got married to help hide their sexuality.  The Highball, Austin, Texas

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Sergeant Anthony Bustos

joined the Army National Guard in 2002. He served as a combat engineer and a gunner in his first tour in Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2004 - 2005) and a combat medic in (2008 - 2009). Anthony watched his two best friends in the army die when an IED hit their Humvee in 2005. On May 25th 2010, he came out on ABC World News.“I feel like I might have cheated them of knowing the real me because I was afraid to come out to them and they died not knowing the real me, who I was completely. And I feel every day that I should have told them.” Abilene, Texas

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Lieutenant Dan Choi

is a 2003 graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point. He is an Arab linguist and combat veteran of the Iraq War.Choi served in the Army National Guard as an infantry platoon leader until 2010 when he was discharged for coming out on the Rachel Maddow Show in March 2009. New York City, New York

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Sergeant Tracey Gerald

joined the Marine Corps in 1991 with her twin sister Stacey. Tracey was a recruiter and served as an ambulance driver in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.Due to the strain of serving under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, Tracey retired from the Marine Corps in February 2008. Gold’s Gym, Irving, Texas

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Captain Anthony “Tony” Woods

is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and was discharged from the Army in 2008 after he came out to his commander. He subsequently ran for U.S. Congress in California’s 10th Congressional District, in a bid to become the first openly gay African- American in Congress. He lost that bid, receiving eight percent of a special election vote on September 1, 2009. Alexandria, Virginia

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Mara Boyd

completed three years in the Air Force ROTC program at the University of Colorado at Boulder and graduated in the top ten percent of her basic training class before she came out to her commander in 2002. She was honorably discharged in 2003. Boyd’s ROTC scholarship, which had paid for two years of nonresident tuition, was revoked upon her discharge, and the government demanded that she repay her scholarships and book stipends, amounting to a $30,000 debt. 

Ann Arbor, Michigan

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Sergeant John “Jay” Dwyer

served as a nuclear weapons specialist in the Air Force from 1986 - 1992. Upon completing six years of active duty, he transferred into a supply position in the Air Force Reserves. He decided to leave the military as tensions were building around the implementation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. San Francisco, California

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Yeoman Timothy V. Beauchamp

joined the Navy in 1984. He was trained as nuclear engineering specialist, cross-rated and then served on the submarine U.S.S. Henry Clay, where he was the ship’s Protestant Lay Reader while out at sea. After his wife shared her thoughts with friends and word got out about his homosexuality, Timothy was honorably discharged in 1988.

Jay, Oklahoma
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Specialist Rose Miztri

joined the Army in 1968 and medically retired in 1976 after a motorcycle accident.

Rose was an aircraft mechanic in Korea and a crew chief of a “dust off” helicopter ambulance during the Vietnam War. In 2009 she started living as Rose. 

Prescott, Arizona

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Captain Joan Darrah

served in silence under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) for almost two decades in the Navy as an intelligence officer from 1973-2002. She testified before Congress in support of repealing DADT in 2008. Joan is a member of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network’s (SLDN) Military Advisory Council.

Alexandria, Virginia
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Katie Miller

was ranked ninth out of 1,157 cadets in her West Point class resigned her career in the military. In her resignation letter she wrote “I am unwilling to suppress an entire portion of my identity any longer because it has taken a significant personal, mental and social toll on me and detrimentally affected my professional development. I have experienced a relentless cognitive dissonance by attempting to adhere to §654 [colloquially known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”]. Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

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Staff Sergeant Scott M. Spychala

joined the Air National Guard in 1983 and served until 2003. He worked as an air cargo specialist and in the security forces before he retired from service as a result of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. He is pictured with his daughter, Helena. Indianapolis, Indiana

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Sergeant Darren Manzella 

Served in the Army as a combat medic in both Kuwait and Bagdhad from 2002 - 2008. On June 10, 2008, Darren was separated from the military with an honorable discharge after coming out on the CBS program, 60 Minutes.He became the first openly gay service member on active duty to speak to the press from a war zone. On August 29, 2013, Manzella was killed when an SUV hit him as he was in the act of pushing his disabled vehicle off the road) Washington, D.C. 

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Colonel Stewart Bornhoft

graduated from West Point in 1969 and later taught there. He served in the Army on active duty since 1969 and retired in 1995. Colonel Bornhoft is a decorated veteran who commanded combat engineers during two tours in Vietnam. He also commanded two districts in the Army Corps of Engineers. He is legally married to his husband, a Navy veteran of eight years’ service. Bonita, California

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Sonar Technician 1st Class Marie J. “MJ” Aponte

Enlisted in the Navy in 1982 as a nuclear field electronics technician. She served on submarines using, repairing and training others on the sonar equipment that is used to detach and chase submarines and ships. She completed her 20-year commitment and left the military in 2002 and began her transition from male to female. Lake Havasu City, Arizona

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Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Knight

joined the Navy in early 2001 and became a Hebrew linguist. He was discharged in 2005 when his marriage-annulment papers included references to his homosexuality. Yet because of a bureaucratic mistake, he was accidentally listed as an inactive reservist and recalled back to service in 2006. He was discharged again in 2007 after writing a letter to the editor of Stars and Stripes newspaper on gay rights. Jason re-enlisted for a third time after the repeal of DADT. Monterey, California

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Captain Tanya L. Domi

served in the Army from 1974 - 1990. Domi was a drill instructor, paratrooper and Military Police Company Commander at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii during her 15-year career. In 1988, there was a criminal investigation into her sexuality triggered by a sexual harassment report she had made against a colleague; this compelled Captain Domi to leave the Army. Columbia University, New York City, New York

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Danny Hernandez

was in the ROTC and the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M from 2005 - 2009. Hernandez enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2008, and shortly after boot camp, someone reported him for homosexual conduct. He is in the process of being discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. He now works for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a watchdog and policy organization dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by DADT. Washington, D.C.

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Sara Isaacson

Was dis-enrolled from Army ROTC at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in January 2010, ending her dreams of following in her grandfather’s footsteps and becoming an Army doctor. She wrote a letter to her commander two weeks before her commission stating that she was a lesbian and due to her values of honor and integrity she couldn’t lie or hide who she was. She was appealing the decision of the Army that she also repay her $79,265 scholarship when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed in 2010.

After repeal, Sara was allowed to finish out her last year of ROTC. Cadet command agreed not to pursue the scholarship debt as long as she served her 4 year commitment from the original scholarship. She graduated as a 2nd Loutentient in May 2013 and have been serving as an Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Officer in the 108th ADA Brigade out of Fort Bragg since graduating from my Basic Officer Leadership Course. Sara deployed to Southwest Asia in 2014-2015 and is honored to have the opportunity to serve her country.

 UNC, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

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Captain Jonathan Hopkins (L)

graduated from the US Military Academy in 2001. While serving in Ba’qubah, Iraq, Captain Hopkins managed the services and implementation of a $33 million support budget through government contracts of the 5000-person base. On the day his selection for early promotion was announced, he was also informed he was under investigation for being gay. In August 2010, Jonathan was honorably discharged from the Army. He received numerous medals, awards and did three deployments to both Afghanistan and Iraq. He is pictured with his boyfriend Finley Bock (R). Washington, D.C.

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Jacquelyn Ruffner “J.A. Steel”

joined the Army ROTC for two years while at the University of California. She was an expert marksman and was separated due to medical conditions during the draw-down after the Cold War ended in 1991 and the Gulf War was over. Herriman, Utah

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Corporal Maylan Thomas

joined the Marine Corps in 1990. He managed a team of cooks in various mess halls. He officially came out in the summer of 1993 and served somewhat openly for five more years before receiving an honorable discharge in 1998. San Diego, California

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Seaman José Anthony Rodriguez

was rated the top sailor on his ship before dishonorable discharge in 2009. He comes from a military family, although he was the first member of his family to join the Navy instead of the Air Force. His Navy career was cut short after he was “drugged and raped” at a gay bar in San Diego. After the incident, Joe went to a civilian hospital that ended up violating HIPPA laws and released Joe’s records to the Navy. He is in the process of repealing that decision. Van Horn, Texas

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Sergeant Charles (Chuck) Parker, Jr.

joined the Marine Corps in 1989 and served until 1994. He had wanted to make the military a career, but decided not to re-enlist under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. Phoenix, Arizona

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Corporal Evelyn Thomas (L)

served in the Army National Guard in 1986 as a Supply Clerk and then decided to join the Marine Corps, where she was a baker. After threats, harassments and investigations

Into her sexuality she decided not to re-enlist and was honorably discharged in 1991. Evelyn is the Executive Director and Co-Founder with her wife Linda Sanders (R) of The Sanctuary Project, an activist ministry that advocates for service members, veterans, and their families. They reside in Carlsberg, CA. Van Horn, Texas

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Brigadier General Keith H. Kerr

entered the Army as a Private at Fort Ord, California in September

1953. Upon release from active duty in June 1960, he continued to serve in the Army Reserves and the California National Guard. General Kerr retired in June 1996 after 43 years of service to the United States and the State of California. Santa Rosa, California

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Sergeant Joe Granger

served in the Army as an air traffic controller from 1987-1993, stationed in both the United States and Korea. After witnessing many gay “witch hunts”, Joe grew tired of living two lives and hiding who he was. He decided not re-enlist and took a job as a civilian air traffic controller in Washington, D.C.

Aurora, Colorado
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Major Mike Almy

joined the Air Force in 1993 after graduating from Wright State University, where he earned his commission through Air Force ROTC. He deployed to the Middle East four times during his career, supporting Operation Desert Fox, Operation Southern Watch and Operation Iraqi Freedom. While in Iraq, the military searched his private emails and investigated him for violating “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. He was discharged in 2006 after serving 13 years on active duty as a communications officer. Washington, D.C.

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Lieutenant Colonel Vicki Smith

joined the Oregon Air National Guard in 1976. She was a mission commander who served in Operation Dessert Storm.In 2004, her General recommended Vicki to be Unit Commander. When she decided to accept the position, a fellow officer threatened to out her to the General. She declined the position and retired in 2004. Vicki and Jeannie, her partner of 28 years, run a food pantry that services people living with HIV. Vancouver, Washington

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Todd Belok

who was a midshipman and an active member of his battalion in the George Washington University Naval ROTC in 2008. Several months into school a couple of other NROTC members saw him kissing his boyfriend at a fraternity party and told their commanding officer; he was dis-enrolled months later. George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

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Rear Admiral Alan M. Steinman, MD, MPH

is the former Director of Health and Safety for the Coast Guard, in which he served as both the chief medical officer and chief safety officer. During his 25 years of service, Dr. Steinman developed the Coast Guard’s system of emergency medical services and was instrumental in creating the Coast Guard’s EMT School. He served from 1972 - 1997. RADM Steinman is the most senior military officer to self-identify as gay after his retirement. Dupont, Washington

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Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Russell

entered the Army in 1962 as a member of the WAC (Woman’s Army Company) and after the integration of women into the military she became Adjutant General Corporal. She retired in 1982. In 1994, she testified before Congress against the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. 

San Antonio, Texas
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Lieutenant Andrew Holmes

enlisted in the California Army National Guard through the Army (ROTC) in 1986. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant and served with the 870th Military Police Company (Combat) in the California Army National Guard. In 1993 he wrote a formal letter to his commander informing him of his sexuality. Holmes was discharged during a field training exercise in 1994. Sacramento, California

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Sergeant Jen Hogg (L)

served in the New York Army National Guard from 2000-2005. She trained as a 63Y track vehicle mechanic but also worked as the HEMTT wrecker operator. Jen is co-founder of the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), a non-profit organization dedicated to serving military women and veterans. She is pictured with her partner Jackie Scalone (R). Jersey City, New Jersey

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Chief Warrant Officer Two Travis Hengen

served in the Army from 1991-2003 as an interrogator and counterintelligence agent.

He was honorably discharged from the military in 2003 under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, two months before Operation Iraqi Freedom. Boston, Massachusetts

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Sergeant Tracy Giesker

served in the Army as a member of the Military Police from 1981-1994. Due to numerous threats and investigations into her sexuality, Tracy decided not to continue her military career after 13 years of service. Birmingham, Alabama

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Staff Sergeant Kristina Kates

joined the Air Force in 1994 and served until 2003. She comes from a long line of military service. Her grandfather is a WWII veteran and her father is a Vietnam and Gulf War veteran. She served with honor and distinction but ultimately decided not to re-enlist due to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Indianapolis, Indiana

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Specialist William Neuls, Jr.

served in the Army from 1988 until 1996, when he medically retired after a car accident. He was a truck driver in Operation Desert Storm and transported tanks in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. San Antonio, Texas

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