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Marines React To Buddy 'Coming Out' On The Radio

Originally published on September 23, 2011 5:34 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

And we have a quick update this morning on the end of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The rule ended this past Tuesday.

And on Tuesday morning, on this program, our colleague Rachel Martin introduced us to an active duty Marine who, for the first time, spoke publicly about being gay. Major Darrel Choat wondered how other Marines might react.

DARREL CHOAT: I expect some of them to, you know, shake my hand and say, hey, don't care. And I also expect others to, you know, not deal with me and not want to deal with me, to be uncomfortable around me. I know they will.

INSKEEP: That was the reaction he expected. Now that a few days have passed, we called Major Choat to find out how what really happened.

CHOAT: Well, one buddy leaned over and said, hey, were you on NPR this morning? And I said yes. Then, well, what was that about? And I said, well, "don't ask, don't tell" ended today. And he looks at me and he goes, yeah - so? And says, well, it was about "don't ask, don't tell" ending today. And he goes, Oh. Then he finally got it.

INSKEEP: Other people did too, including one sergeant who emailed him with some criticism, not, he says, about being gay but about going public with it. Many people in the military want to go on with their business and stay quiet.

Mostly though, the major got handshakes of support and e-mails from all over the Marine Corps, including some friends from basic training he hadn't heard from in years.

CHOAT: Several of those Marines reached out to me and said, didn't know, didn't care, doesn't change anything.

INSKEEP: That's Marine Major Darrel Choat on his first week as an openly gay member of the United States Marine Corps.

You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.