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    Posted December 7, 2012 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Same-sex marriage hearings: Your thoughts

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    It Does Get Better

    Thirty plus years ago when the US Army sent me packing for being a lesbian, it seemed my world had ended. The discharge had culminated four months of interrogations about other colleagues' sexual orientations. In refusing to provide details, my military tenure was further steeped in physical and mental challenges demanded by my superiors.
    Being discharged back into society included some choices. These would be: returning to a home where my mother had told me to "return when I get this problem figured out", referring to the lesbianism; or possibly back to college, where I had been cut from the varsity softball team with all the others suspected of homosexuality. Finally, I couldn't go back to my summer job that I had had in my hometown for five summers, because having learned of my sexual orientation, the private swimming pool no longer welcomed me. Same was true with the church I grew up in. Choices were few.
    Ultimately, I took a Greyhound bus to Berkeley, CA, and taught swimming, saved money, and began a long stretch of educational pursuits.
    The educational degrees that followed have allowed me to have a place of privilege to serve in medicine. This has brought me, among other opportunities, full circle to the Veterans Administration Medical Center, as well as a forward operating base in Iraq as a civilian.
    My mother not only realized I "figured this thing out" but also told me, in the months before she died, that she thought I was the luckiest person she knows. "Why is that, Mom?" "Because you know what you want and you do it. That's really lucky"
    I could not agree with her more.
    I guess that means I figured it out, at the same time that society around me was figuring it out: each of us is the same person after we come out as before.
    Please judge us for the human beings that we are, not for the label assigned to us. In the 35 years since I first became aware of my sexual identity, I've seen more understanding and acceptance at large with each passing decade. I've seen less hiding within our communities, and less real worry over which employment to seek, or where to live. These were real concerns.
    The persistent voice of homophobia, while still present, is more marginalized and more radical in its presentation than ever before. This makes it less palatable, less mainstream, and less relevant.
    Possibly the most heartening and salient example that things are changing is when an adult in their 20's "just does not get it" in respect to homophobia. I've literally needed to explain how someone would become homophobic! THAT is real progress.
    Indeed, these are good days to be a lesbian.
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