Overcoming DADT, by AVER President Danny Ingram

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

In the spring of 1994 I became one of the first service members to be discharged from the military under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" following a statement I made in support of presidential candidate Bill Clinton's promise to lift the ban in 1992.  I remember being called into the office my commander in 1993.  There were three of us in the office, the commander, who was Latino, the First Sergeant, who was African-American, and me, the gay guy.  The commander said to me, "Sergeant Ingram, my grandaddy had to get his ass kicked so that I could serve in the US Army."  He then looked over at the First Sergeant and said, "The First Sergeant's daddy had to get his ass kicked so that he could serve in the same US Army as the rest of us." Then he looked at me.  "And now, Sergeant Ingram, you are going to get your ass kicked so that your people can someday serve in the US Army along with everyone else."

I got my ass kicked, but almost 20 years later, as National President of American Veterans for Equal Rights, I was invited by the White House to witness President Barack Obama sign the DADT Repeal Law into effect on December 22, 2010. And on September 19th, 2011, the day before the effective date of repeal, I commemorated the last duty day that my people could not serve in the United States military.  And sharing the podium with me that evening was retired Colonel Kelly R. Jimenez, my former commanding officer.  He ended his comments with these words:  "If I were ever in a tough situation and my life was on the line, there is no one I would rather have in my foxhole fighting beside me than Sergeant Ingram." Two old comrades had come full circle.

Change does come to those who work long enough and have right on their side.  Often times it comes one human heart at a time.  I don't like being told there are things I can't do because I am gay. I don't like being told that I can't serve in the military.  I don't like being told that I can't have a life-long relationship with someone I love.  And I don't like being told that I can't marry.  I stand with the people of California.  I share your fight.  You are on the front line, but many of us stand behind you.  The battle may be long and difficult, but we will win because the destiny of our great nation is on our side, and the dream of America will not be stopped here. 

Thank you for all you do to keep the dream alive. I know that I speak for all of AVER's members, men and women who swore an oath to defend our sacred liberty, when I tell you that you do not stand alone, and together we will prevail.

Danny Ingram, National President
American Veterans for Equal Rights


Your words are so touching. It doesn't take being homosexual to understand that everyone deserves to be treated equally. The day that Obama signed the repeal was the first time in years that I felt truly proud to be American. We saw this with Women, Latinos, and African-Americans, this hatred will not last. Oppression never wins.

I want to applaud you for your duty in the military, as well as not being afraid to be who you are.

Kale 12/09/2011 14:44

It is horrible to have to go through that and know that you were fighting for your country and that you were well capable of doing so. I have been there myself, although I didn't get my ass kicked. I was in the Navy, something that is a long tradition in my family. I loved the military, and enjoyed the family that I had formed with my fellow shipmates. All my close friends on the ship knew I was gay, which was many. Unfortunately one of my shipmates saw me in the gay section of town in San Diego while he was "driving" through it and confronted me and informed me "That if I were to ever hit on him that he would kick my ass and make sure that I would never be able to suck co** again." This scared me, I am not one that is for fighting, I informed him at that moment that I had no urge to hit on him or to even think of him that way, that I was not like that, that I do not approach, that I let the other person approach me. A few days later he informed me that if I didn't tell the CO of me being gay that he would and that I had hit on him (which was a lie). Instead of having him go to my CO and lie, which would of gotten me in to a lot of trouble, even brig time. I wrote a letter to my CO and gave it to him. He was very helpful with my discharge, he was very understanding and since I was stationed on a ship I had to be transferred to the dry side. His wife was the Chaplin of the dry side and he got me in a position to work in her office with her until I was offically discharged. She was wonderful, they both had a going away party for me, they had actually tried to get me to change my mind about leaving, stating that I can be in but would have to keep it quiet, I advised them as much as I love it, the shipmate gave me a picture of what I may have to deal with and honestly am afraid to stay in now. I did get an honorable discharge in Nov of 1997. To this day, I still miss being in the Navy.

James Amon 12/13/2011 22:22

Thank you for telling your inspirational story! I feel so bad that you had to go through all of that S****, and I wish that there was something that could have been done about it sooner. People need to realize how heartless they are, and they need to go rot in Hell. Just remember, I will find you beautiful, no matter who you are. and even though just one person saying that may not be enough, there are thousands of other people who would agree. <3 Stay strong my friend! XOXO~Sam

Samantha Vinson 12/16/2011 21:57

what an amazing story! All my best to you! ~Anthony

Anthony Varrecchia 04/20/2012 13:05

Please sign in to post a comment