The Camo Closet

A reader writes:

Here is another example of DADT consequences that I haven’t seen mentioned. I was in the Navy from 1985-1995, 10 years of service, keep in mind that is half way to retirement.  I finally admitted to myself in 1987 I was gay but kept it hidden from all except my closest friends.  In 1992, after 4 years of shore duty and getting ready to be rotated back to a ship command, I found out that I was HIV+ and with the exception of how the Navy went about telling me I was HIV+ (another horror story in itself) the Navy treated me very well.  But when you are HIV+, you are kept on shore based commands, as the Navy wants you within a certain amount of miles to a Military Hospital. 

But my job entailed for me to keep going up in rank I needed to be ship based to continue to progress in my rate (job).  My peers were always asking how I kept getting shore duty year after year.

I obviously couldn’t tell them that I was HIV+ (being HIV+ in those days = that you were gay) and would be station on a shore command the rest of my Navy career.  I decided that after 3 years of lying to my shipmates, and that I could not live the double life any longer I decided, to the dismay of my family, who at the time did not know I was gay or HIV+ and because I was only 10 years away from retirement, it was time that I give up my military career and become a civilian. 

But the remarkable part of ending the leading this double life was that my CD4 count went from being consistently around 250 during the time I was in the Navy, to within 6 months of being discharged to having a CD4 count over 900 without medication changes.  The stress of living a double life the constant fear that I was going to be found out was killing my immune system.