Leonardo shares his joy at the repeal of DADT

My parents, the godparents, during Leonardo's baptism

My childhood friend, Leonardo Lucio (aka LeoNERDo – we won’t mention his nickname for me), is ecstatic today. I asked him yesterday if he would mind if I wrote about his story and he said, “Don’t only write about it, please include my name because I am celebrating as loudly as I can.” At midnight last night, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law was repealed.

This is his story in his words:

In March 1990, I enlisted into the U.S. Navy. During my in processing, I was asked whether I was gay or planned to be gay. I immediately said “no” and at that moment, I began living a lie in uniform. In 1993, a new law was passed called “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, and I continued to hide who I really am. I left active duty in July 1994 and soon after joined the Navy Reserves. I attended Community College earning an Associates degree in 1996, a Bachelors degree in 1998, started my Masters degree while opening up a business and all this time I was forced to hide my sexuality every time I had to put on my uniform.

Leonardo and Chris exchanging rings at their commitment ceremony

I met my life partner in August 2000 and had a commitment ceremony in 2005 surrounded by my friends (including the QF Blogger :)). Our commitment to each other is permanent, strong and very loving. We welcomed a foster baby boy into our home September 2009 and hope to adopt him in the near future. I chose to live my life openly with my family and friends, but could not be open in uniform. Until now. Today, I am coming out as a gay Navy Reservist and hope to be a role model to incoming new and prospective military recruits.

I am a Desert Storm war veteran and have earned numerous medals including the Combat Action Ribbon. And presently, I work at VA hospital in Chicago and have performed in hundreds of military funerals in the last 6 yrs. It is such an honor to perform military honors for our fallen comrades but I have to wonder how many went to their graves never acknowledging their life partner.

Leonardo with his friends in the Navy

I have served over 21 yrs and could have retired after 20 years of service, but I wanted to hold on until the DADT law was repealed. I wanted to feel 100% complete in and out of uniform. In fact, this past weekend, I re-enlisted for an additional 6 years which will keep me in serving until 2017. I want to see and feel how my Navy career will be after the repeal of DADT. I have come out to some of my fellow comrades and will come out to others to remove the stigma. I have faith that they will not care and will follow me to war if that day were to ever arrive. We have a tight bond and I believe it will get even stronger once I can live my authentic self in uniform.

Tonight, I will be attended a REPEAL party in downtown Chicago and will attend a Las Vegas convention Oct 13th-16th of OutServe. Outserve is an LGBT active/reserve organization that I chose to join. Today, I walk a little taller and thank all the people who made this day possible for me and other LGBT members who have served and will continue to serve.

Respectfully,
Leonardo Lucio
U.S. Navy Reserves

I am very proud of my friend, am very proud of his business prowess, of having found a loving partner who does brain research (neuroscience), of having fostered his baby boy almost from birth, of having put up with me & my brother even when we would make up stories of Frankenstein living in our attic and testing it out our recipes of pine needles and sap, of being an awesome godson to my parents who love him very much and now, of serving in the military while acknowledging his love of his male life partner.

Leonardo with his foster son, hopefully soon to be adopted son 🙂

When he was actively serving, we would write each other frequently – he would send me leaves and different currencies from different countries and I would send him cassettes (uh, we are old) and pictures. His letters never included his struggle with his sexuality, those were conversations saved for his in-person visits. I was happy when he was finally able to openly say he was gay to family and friends (it was not easy) and today I am happy he is able to openly say he is gay to the world without fear of repercussions.

A congratulations to all who serve in the U.S. military who no longer have not have to fear being discharged solely because of your sexual orientation.

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About Que Fregados

Que Fregados is a quirky look at little things that strike us funny in Laredo and the unique Latino culture. Suggestions and comments are welcome. You can also email to quefregados@gmail.com.
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8 Responses to Leonardo shares his joy at the repeal of DADT

  1. kbinldo says:

    Congratulations, Leonard! DADT is consigned to its rightful place in the trash bin of history. Next up on deck: DOMA.

  2. critters and crayons says:

    What a nice post! I

  3. MaryHelen says:

    Congratulations to Leonardo and his family! I”m all for people finding happiness, and it sounds like Leonardo found his and can finally shout from the mountaintops! 🙂

  4. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations Leonardo! I only met you briefly once, a long time ago, but I’m very happy for you today! Thank you for your service and love for family and country.

  5. Poncho1950 says:

    Finally! I’m happy for you, Leonardo, and thank you for your service, brother.
    Felix Pena, U.S. Army, 1968-1971

  6. Wakeuplaredo says:

    Good, DADT was an impossible policy. I do hope that the military will do a good job on understanding and implementing new policies towards gay military members. I know in small combat arms units that unit “cohesion” is a must. The military must protect this reality. I hope they have a process in place.

    If they don’t, then shame on the Pentagon.

  7. James Darby says:

    Greetings

    Thank you Leonardo for sharing your story with the world. The more people who come out the better it will be for all f us in the long run.

    Jim Darby, President, American Veterans for Equal Rights – AVER

  8. Pingback: It’s Veteran’s Day in Laredo | Que Fregados

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