The University’s ROTC program hosted a series of events this week honoring servicemen and women in honor of Veteran’s Day. One such event sought to shed light on what life is like for LGBTQ military members, and Ariana Bostian-Kentes and Brian Stone were invited to the Wolverine Room of the Michigan Union to speak about their experiences.

Stone served in the United States Navy when the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was implemented — a law that prohibited discrimination based on sexual-orientation but also disallowing LGBTQ individuals from serving openly in the military — and Bostian-Kentes is the program manager for inclusive leadership education at the University’s Spectrum Center. She is also the co-founder of the Military Partners and Families Coalition, a nonprofit organization that serves LGBTQ soldiers and their families.

Though the legislation was officially repealed in 2011, Stone said he and many others thought that DADT would be revoked sooner after President Obama took office. Stone added that the policy required LGBTQ soldiers and their partners to lie on federal documents and to their co-workers. Before the repeal, same-sex partners of those in the military did not the same benefits that spouses in heterosexual relationships received.

Stone also recalled the difficulties those in the military experienced after the policy had been reversed, including official requests that service members be sorted according to sexual orientation so LGBTQ individuals wouldn’t be sleeping or bathing next to their heterosexual comrades.

He also noted that while there was a lot of anxiety about the logistics of military members outwardly acknowledging their identities, there were almost no questions about the effectiveness of LGBTQ soldiers.

“There were all these silly questions being asked, and it wasn’t ‘Are gay people going to be able to shoot guns, are they going to be able to find the enemy, are they going to fight as hard?’ Nobody questioned that,” Stone said.

Stone, who graduated from the University of Michigan at Dearborn on the G.I. bill, now writes for The Huffington Post. He focuses on the discrimination and adversity transgender soldiers still face. For example he said, transgender soldiers are not protected legally and can be fired for identifying as transgender. Stone cited an instance when a transgender corpsman wore clean nail polish on her toes and was brought to a superior, even though the military had no rules regarding toenail polish.

“As far as I remember, American military haven’t run into battle barefoot in a very long time,” Stone said.

He said he feels no one cares about how transgender soldiers are treated in the military. Because most of the effort by activists was put toward making it so gay and lesbian soldiers could serve openly in the military, Stone said there is very little political will to improve treatment for transgender soldiers.

Bostian-Kentes shared a different perspective after entering into a relationship with a member of the armed forces who was deployed to Afghanistan in the early 2000s. She recalled the difficulty she had getting in touch with her partner, not wanting to arouse suspicion that the two were in a relationship.

“Whenever I sent her a picture, I made sure there was a man in it,” Bostian-Kentes said.

While her partner was serving, Bostian-Kentes joined anonymous online forums used by other people whose partners were serving in the military. Eventually, the support group was contacted by the Pentagon and asked to come to Washington, D.C. Bostian-Kentes said she spoke to U.S. Army General Carter Ham about the difficulties she and others faced, and that the general eventually suggested that the military end DADT.

Bostian-Kentes felt that the pressure to not be seen or photographed hurt her relationship with her partner. She pointed to that stress as one of the central reasons that she and her partner eventually ended their relationship. Bostian-Kentes said the stress for LGBTQ soldiers still exists today, explaining how she feels when soldiers and their families need help, it is often provided by chaplains who are sometimes members of religions that oppose homosexuality.

“Imagine trying to get help from someone who thinks of you as an abomination,” Bostian-Kentes said.

Despite the adversity they have faced, both speakers still actively support the U.S. military and its troops. Stone is a member of a military family that has sent members into almost every U.S. war since the American Revolution. Bostian-Kentes started a new relationship with a member of the Michigan National Guard and the two made the decision to come out when Bostian-Kentes’ partner was promoted to the rank of captain.

“I’m thankful that we get the chance to hear from these remarkable folks,” said Engineering freshman Jake Biegger, who attended the talks. “I would say that anyone who serves in the military is inspiring, and for members of the LGBTQ community to do it through such adversity is a testament to their love for their country.”

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