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The Long Exhale

By Enrique Franco

May 28, 2010

I recently read something posted online that almost made me faint. I sprinted towards my living room window to see if any pigs were out and about, flying in the summer sky. My dear friend, and sister, Olivia from TheBody.com, sent me the link. After reading this article, I can honestly say my heart started to beat faster.

I was happy to read and learn that the U.S. military is on the brink of ending the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy. This group of honorable servicemen and political figures in the Obama Administration is about to yet again make history.

You all know my story and where I come from. I am a member of a huge club that was removed from the service because of coming out. I, like so many others, served proudly and honorably. As a sergeant, I tried to live like a man's man. I rarely showed any signs of emotion. I played the game. But let me tell you, this news will make THIS former sergeant openly cry.

Words cannot express how happy I will feel that day. Since I've left, I had my moment of exhale. You know, that nice peaceful moment of contentment and relief. Well, there is still another moment to be had. This exhale will be extra sweet, extra joyful, and extra peaceful. For me, that day will allow me to experience complete and total closure. For me, that day is the day I will fall in love with my country ALL over again.

I have been asked how I think the military will react to the policy ending. I can only speak for MY branch, the U.S. Army, and from what I've experienced. In my point of view I believe that our Soldiers will have minor issues with it. At first some of them might feel disgusted and angry. But they will eventually get over that feeling.

Why? Because they will look around and remember why they like who they like. They will realize that friendship is more special than hatred. They will understand that a person's status, whether homosexual, lesbian, transgender, or bi, does not define the person 100 percent. Our life styles, and who we have sex and relationships with, are only a part of our lives.

I completely understand that this issue will not be solved overnight. It is going to take some time. Time for healing, time for building acceptance, time for learning and coming to terms with who PEOPLE are. All I ask of those men and women currently serving is to allow that time. Allow yourselves time to grow and mature. Allow yourselves that time to be angry or disgusted but then to learn and mend fences. The Army needs the time to grow and mature. So do its Soldiers.

And, in the proper time, everything will be alright. The loose ends will fit. The little arguments and spats will erode. Soldiers will go on serving and fighting. Soldiers will go on celebrating life.

I believe in hope. I believe in my Soldiers' conduct. They will see through this and stand the test of time. They will keep their friends regardless of openly knowing they are gay. They will love them for WHO they are, not WHAT they are.

As for my fellow troops that are gay and currently serving, I have only one request. When this thing is over, and you can now openly serve, conduct yourselves like Soldiers. Continue to conduct yourselves honorably. There is no need to start acting like you are hot stuff or you now demand respect. There is also no need to tell EVERY single person you know. Be discreet about it. Move slowly with it. Take your time telling who you want. I cannot stress this more.

Time is all we have. And we have plenty of it. This move will not only be an historic one, but it will be one to test. Be patient. Be cool. Most importantly, just be you. Show them that you can Soldier like the best of them. We former troops are all rooting for ALL of the military. I think, this exhale will not only be for those in hiding, but for ALL of the services. It will be yet another hurdle defeated by sensible, logical, and promising people.

God Bless and GO ARMY!!!!

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