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The Return of a Soldier: Stacy Vasquez

Lesbian Soldier Planning to Re-enter the US Military After DADT Discharge

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Stacy Vasquez Escorting Lady Gaga to the MTV Video Music Awards

Stacy Vasquez Escorting Lady Gaga to the MTV Video Music Awards

© Christopher Polk/Getty Images
Stacy Vasquez had been a model soldier before her discharge in 2003 under "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell." She was in the Army for 12 years and planned to make a career out of it. All of that changed when the wife of a co-worker told her Commander she had seen Vasquez kiss a girl in a gay bar. Vasquez’ Commander called her into his office and outlined the allegation. After consulting with legal counsels, she wrote a statement that she was a homosexual. Although she didn’t want to leave the military, she didn’t fight her discharge at that point in time since she would have had to prove she was not lesbian. This would require her to lie when asked directly. Vasquez went on to challenge the law in court as a plaintiff in Cook v. Gates.

It’s been eight years since then. Stacy Vasquez in that time gone back to college and gotten her master’s degree. She joined Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and even tried to get back in the military via a court case. She and her co-defendents were unsuccessful. Stacy Vasquez had the honor of being one of the discharged servicemembers to escort Lady Gaga to the MTV Video Music Awards in September 2010.

Stacy Vasquez works for the government in another capacity, but still feels like there is something unfinished in her life. Now that President Obama has agreed to overturn DADT, Stacy Vasquez hopes to return to military service. Here she talks about it in her own words:

Lesbian Life: I’m writing an article about the upcoming date of the repeal of DADT, but before we get to that, I have ask you about escorting Lady Gaga to the VMAs. Tell me all about it.

Stacy Vasquez: (laughing) It was fun. It was a bit over whelming. When you’re not used to media attention like that and she gets a tremendous amount of media attention. People are very aggressive about photographing her. It was a different experience for all of us. Hundreds of cameras flashing at the same time.

She is really quite a nice person and we had a chance to get to know her over the course of the year. She really is genuinely a good person.

How did it come about that you were the one to escort her?

She was doing a concert in Washington, DC and they had reached out to a couple of us because she wanted to meet some soldiers who had been discharged under [DADT] to get to know what the law meant and the impact on our lives. We met with her for about 45 minutes before her concert. She was very moved after hearing from us and said this is something that I have to do something about. This was about a week before the VMA.

It was one of those things when you’re having an OMG moment. Not only am I going to walk the red carpet for MTV, but I’m going to do it in my uniform and I haven’t worn my uniform in a really long time. And I don’t know how I’m going to feel about that. So it was two really big feelings at once.

For someone who is not in the military, is it customary to wear your uniform when you’re no longer in the military? What were the feelings you had?

It’s allowed for instances like theatrical events and things like that, but generally people shy away from wearing their uniform to anything that could be related to anything political. I think all of us really respect our time in the service and we respect what our uniform represents. I was reticent to wear my uniform, because my uniform means something different to me than it does to most people. It’s almost like putting a shield of shame back on and then walking out in public. There’s a lot of embarrassment that comes from me being discharged under the law. So to go out and do that was to really put that embarrassment out there for people to see.

Talk more about that.

I was in the army for 12 years. I prided myself on being successful and doing a good job. When I was fired from my job for something that I couldn’t change and that wasn’t a part of my performance, I was embarrassed. It was something I kept a secret from everyone. My parents didn’t even know until I told them I was being discharged. So, being so public in my uniform like that, I had a lot of feelings. I didn’t worry about wearing my uniform, as far as breaking any rules or anything like that. I just worried about what it represented. It was a very necessary step and I think we all realized when we agreed to put our uniforms on and walk the red carpet that it was a statement that we were service members and wanted people to recognize us as service members and that when you have the uniform on and you’re out in public like that, you’re the same as everyone else. That was our point all along.

I think that we wanted people to know that if you ran into us on the street in the uniform, it wouldn’t come to you that we’re gay. It doesn’t really matter. That’s not what mattered all along. There are definitely feelings that come up when you put that uniform on.

I’ve been through a really long battle with this law and putting my uniform is a really big deal. I was in a court case for six years. It was very hard.

What is the court case?

It was Cook V. Gates. There were 12 of us, six men and six women, all different branches of the service and our case went all the way to Supreme Court level, but we never got to have arguments or testify in front of court. It was all in motions the whole time.

Your battle was to be reinstated?

It was simply to be reinstated, there was no back pay or monetary awards or anything like that. Just simply to return to our jobs.

And you were denied that opportunity?

When we went all the way to the Supreme Court level, we never made it into actual trial phase for the case to progress.

Keep reading to learn more about Stacy's plan to return to the military...

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