Cataloging the bravery and activism of LGBTQI service members one story at a time.



The following archive represents interviews conducted, produced and transcribed since 2011 by Chelsea Rae Klein. The interviews depicted here have been edited for online publication, and in some cases represent only brief excerpts of much longer interviews. The ADMA is an oral history project; interviews express individual experiences and opinions of the interviewees and are not meant to assume collective or institutional values or beliefs. The ADMA is an ongoing, independent production. Full or expanded interviews, or additional audio excerpts may be published at a later date following initial publication, and new interviews will continue to be published as they are conducted, as resources allow.  The ADMA is a work in progress that strives to collect stories that are as diverse as the queer community with the intention of tracing an expansive, largely undocumented history as told by those who lived it.

Thank you for visiting us at our humble beginning.


Jerre L. Brown

Interview conducted- February 19, 2014

Jerre L. Brown, who retired as State Command Sergeant Major for the Colorado National Guard in 1998 was the Nation’s first female of that title.  During her quarter of a century of service, Jerre never came out in the military. Even today, “it took a near death experience on the part of my partner for me to get up the courage to even be able to tell my manager that I’m a lesbian. That’s how far in the closet I am. Because the fear of going to prison- can you even imagine if someone said, ‘you’re going to prison. We are going to lock you up and take away every right that you have and you may be here for a long time’- simply because of who you love? Can you imagine that? That’s how we grew up in the military.”



I was of the last group of women to go through a completely separate service known as the Women’s Army Core.   This was called WAC, it no longer exists, they integrated women in 1976, I think. When I joined the military we had makeup classes in boot camp. We had to wear skirts that we starched with enough starch they would stand up by themselves. Literally by themselves. When I went to basic training I was the Goldie Hawn that showed up with my wig. I had long hair and I had my wig box and my big suitcases and I was like ‘why are you being mean to me? This is awful.’ We weren’t allowed to be with guys at all, it was all segregated. They had consertina wire around what they called the WAC Shack to keep the men away. That was a different time. I guess if I could tell you two things about my experience in the Army, because it spanned two and a half decades, it would be that women grew tremendously in terms of doing whatever it is they wanted to do and secondly, about being gay- I don’t think that my being a lesbian has in any way hurt me, but I was not out you see, I didn’t have the opportunity. So had I been out when I was still on active duty, I never would have been able to achieve the things that I did achieve in terms of being the first female State Sergeant Major. And I did stop my career early. I had had aspirations to go on to become the National Guard Bureau Sergeant Major, where instead of having 3,600 troops I would have had 365,000 troops. But the mere fact of my lifestyle, I couldn’t allow myself to dream that dream. I knew it would never be a reality; they would have been in my business. And at that time I would have been a disgrace to my uniform if I had been found out as a lesbian.


Ashely Thomas Medcalf

Interview conducted- February 18, 2014

Ashley has served active duty and as a reservist for the U.S. Air Force for 13 years.  He grew up an “Army Brat” as his mother enlisted when he was a boy of nine.  Originally from Arkansas, his family moved to bases in California, Texas, and Germany and in that adolescent period of travel, Ashley was exposed to a range of gendered and race-based identity expectations.  At nine, after being teased at school,  he went home and told his parents that he wanted to be called Thomas, not Ashley.  “It was the first time that I started covering. I had created now, an outside perception. Simply because they had started calling at me Ashley’s a girls name! Ashley’s a girl’s name! Well it wasn’t a girl’s name, because I’m not a girl. That was the first time when I said this is not going to happen. Thomas is a boy’s name, that’s who I’m going to be…”


Ashley Thomas Metcalf

That changed my idea about safety. Even though we were abused as kids, we always had some place to go back to, to be safe.   My mom was eventually coming back. I had reasons to stay, to protect my brother and sister. I realized I was no longer able to be protected. [Not] coincidentally, it started a huge fear in me of the white gay community. Shorty after that I PCSed to the next base and I was only around gay black military and gay black Americans, or minority groups. I started having panic attacks. I knew I couldn’t say anything about it. I couldn’t go and yell to someone that I was raped. How? I was already under investigation for being gay for something I didn’t even do.  

How do I say I was hurt and not say that I’m gay? Even if I wasn’t gay, it doesn’t matter. Because under don’t ask, don’t tell, under the UCMJ, that is a homosexual act and I can be kicked out because of it.  So of course I’m not going to tell anybody, and of course it didn’t happen. The following years were the worst because I started having panic attacks and I didn’t even know they were panic attacks. I went into a really deep depression. I had issues where I just wanted to be the smallest person I could be. I don’t know why that was, it was so weird… it was a hard time to get through. I didn’t have any reasons that I was being the way that I was. I wouldn’t remember what I looked like for weeks on end. I had this really odd idea of my own perception of who I was. Like, what I looked like. I ended up going to counseling, but not being able to talk about what I needed to talk about because I was in fear of being kicked out. At the time I was in a really bad relationship and needed to get out of it but didn’t know how to get out of it. The relationship was making me more and more depressed. I went to counseling and couldn’t talk. So I ended up going on anxiety medication to subside the symptoms of panic attacks and ended up being deployed, which helped a lot. It was like my alone time. We had invaded Iraq in July, I volunteered and was a part of the second team over there.


Ty S. Warrick

Interview conducted- February 18, 2014

Ty S. Warrick who served in the U.S. Army for 22 1/2 years, was born intersex and reared as female. It wasn’t until his early 20s that Ty learned of his birth and embraced Two Spirit- the peaceful coexistence of his outward self and the male spirit within- a belief of his Native American heritage. But once deployed to Iraq, Ty began his natural transition to intersex male.


Among Dreams Project

The military was a safe zone for someone like me.  Basically the uniform allowed me to hide my gender for several years.  The uniform was very male heterosexual. Because of that, even identifying as a woman based on the birth that was chosen for me- and I always say that because I did not chose the gender that was chosen for me, nor do I have any regrets, nor am I angry or hate any of the decisions that were chosen for me back then- but the uniform is very male oriented and based on that as a woman you can be very tough and butch and masculine without it being taken out of context to the idea with that your were something other than a lesbian- which is something most people identified me as even though it was something that I wasn’t.


Dawn Hebert

Interview conducted- January 6, 2014

Dawn Hebert was born in February of 1946 in a time when little to nothing was known about transgender.  Dawn spent many years cross-dressing in attempt to satisfy the unexplainable feelings inside of her, but still, cross-dressing for her was a false fix.  She finally underwent her gender affirming transition and began living full time as a woman at the age of 49.  Thirty years before, Dawn served just shy of 2 years active duty aboard the U.S.S. McDonnell in the U.S. Navy.


Dawn Herbert, Among Dreams

I was right out of high school, it was the height of the Vietnam war and the draft was on, so my options were to either enlist or go and dig foxholes in Vietnam.  I did get drafted, but fortunately I was already enlisted. I was straight back then, physically male.  I was married, so the only difference now is that I’m a female.  But I’m still attracted to females.  What’s between your legs- changing your gender or your sex- doesn’t change who you are attracted to…You’re you, that’s the problem.  And heaven forbid you’re a football player, a big wedge of a guy when you look in the mirror, but you’re you.  A young woman.  That’s the problem I had.  My body didn’t match my soul.

You hide from everyone including yourself. You learn how to hide. Very young, you learn how to hide.  It’s just something that overwhelms you, eats you up…You could never let anyone in the Navy know…oh my god!..the Navy would have tossed you out so fast your head would have spun with a dishonorable discharge that effects you the rest of your life. You can’t even get a decent job…It’s not been an easy road; it’s been a hard road.  I have no regrets.  And now I have someone special in my life.   She knows all about me.  There is no hiding now, which is a big difference, a big, big difference. 


Ramsay A. MacLeod

Interview conducted-  January 5, 2014

Ramsay A. MacLeod, a highly decorated Air Force Veteran, suffers PTSD, not from combat but from being the target of a witchhunt investigation, followed by a sexual assault.


Ramsay MacLeod, Among Dreams

It saddens me to a point in my being where it feels like such a failure that I couldn’t get a grasp on the traumas that happened to me and move forward.  The sad thing is that none of the investigations they did on me had anything to do with the quality or the productivity that I provided to the government.  They just wanted to know who I was sleeping with and how I did it…

I’m an activist in the little city that I’m in.  I believe that the beauty of this country is the right to use that voice.  I went to war to fight for people to tear down my flag on a street corner while I call the police.  I don’t care what country you came from, I wouldn’t step on your flag, you’re definitely not going to step on my flag.  I’m a veteran.  I bleed the same colors as those stripes and I will continue to bleed that, whether there is a rainbow in there or not.  I am a human being and a person- that’s the thing that’s most important.  Not my sexual orientation.  Or who I chose to love.  Or who chooses to love me.



Interview conducted-  December 20, 2013

David, an active duty Second Lieutenant , has served his country since 2004.  He has deployed to Southern Afghanistan leading a platoon to find IEDs and was in service during the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  David champions the notion that the more people who come out, the less weight that rests on the shoulders of those who have already come out before.


David , Among Dreams

I was in Southern Afghanistan for about 5 months, doing clearance- leading a platoon to find IEDs.  When I left to go to Afghanistan I was nervous, I thought what if something happens to me?  I hadn’t told my parents or a lot of friends at that point.  People wouldn’t know the full me, the full David, just half of me. My deployment was pretty smooth unlike some others.  I know of some gay military personnel who died in combat and their unit never knew, their unit finds out when this person dies that they have a same sex spouse.  And that’s a really sad situation for everyone involved.


Deborah Suzannie Quon

Interview conducted-  November 7, 2013 & January 6, 1024

Deborah Suzannie Quon, a retired Navy Veteran who served her country from 1987-2008,  learned to show the people that [she] interacted with in the military what they expected to see.  Deborah, who was twice the target of witch hunt interrogations for being gay and also raped during her service, learned how to lead a double life to fulfill her dream of serving in the military.  Proud to have served, Deborah’s reply to the question, would you change a thing is No.  It’s just the way that life is supposed to be. 


The Among Dreams Project

I remember getting home to my apartment on Jacksonville Beach and waiting for my partner to come home from work, and it was well after dark.  And when she did arrive, she didn’t want to speak to me, she was acting very strange and paranoid, so we left the apartment quietly and drove to a park and we still did not speak until we got outside of the car and a ways away in case it was bugged.  And then she proceeded to tell me that she had been held all day, since before lunch, that they put her in a dark room, they brought her out, they turned lights on her and started asking her a bunch of questions about us and our relationship and the way we were living…When we got back to the apartment that night, we started purging everything: videotapes, letter, cards, pictures, to where we started burning stuff in the stainless steel kitchen sink.  The next day Naval Investigative Services (NIS) came to the house and did a search.  Everywhere.  And then of course I got pulled in and questioned, but nothing like she had been through.  And since I had already been through a list of questioning during bootcamp, I already knew what to expect. Needless to say our relationship went down hill after that.  It was never the same…


Julie ‘Janine’ Davidson

Interview conducted-  November 6, 2013

As Julie ‘Janine’ Davidson realized she was gay during her final stretch of  high school, she figured she would have to disappear so that none of the people she grew up with would know the truth.  But she ended up coming out against her fears and was well received.  Shortly after discovering that the military would pay for her schooling to be a surgical technician, she enlisted in the Air Force, inadvertently ending up right back in the closet.


Julie 'Janine' Davidson, Among Dreams

When I did decided to go, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was so fresh that on the handwritten application they had marked out “are you a homosexual? ” with a sharpie.   So they couldn’t ask it anymore but it was still on the application, they just marked it out it was so fresh.  By the time I enlisted I was out to pretty much everybody, so it was really difficult to go back into the closet…Once I got to my station in Screw Point Louisiana, which was a whole reason to be closeted in itself, I was pretty quiet about it.  But I had a partner who was from here who said when you get where you’re going, I’m gonna come and be with you.. So we came up with this story that my cousin came here because she got a job and that’s what we were…cousins, which brought on its own set of jokes.  It’s only so long that you can call someone you’re having a relationship with your cousin before what you’re doing seems really wrong.



Interview conducted- November 6, 2013


Teresa Mortenson, Among Dreams

I’m Italian Catholic so being gay is no- no, actually it’s a double no-no.  You fight it…It was tough when I finally realized it because I was in the military, in a profession where you can’t be gay and if you are it’s a dishonorable discharge…It’s too much so you try and walk that fine line, you have the pretend boyfriends.  I was actually engaged to be married twice. It’s a fight inside of you.  You know you’re gay just as pure as the day is long, but you just can’t and you just don’t know what to do…It’s hard, because once you figure it out, then you have to tell your family and that’s bad too.  A lot of my family members were like, ‘well, it’s about time.’ I went to my uncle- and again, being from an Italian family, I expected to be shunned, to have the bible thrown at me- and when I told him and he goes ‘Love who you love. I don’t care, you’re my blood, you love who you love.’   And as a sidebar, he says ‘just make sure it’s a nice Italian girl.’


Paula Tyer

Interview conducted- November 6, 2013

Paula Tyer was one target of a witch hunt where multiple members of her softball team were under investigation.  While not incriminated, she and others who were called in at that time under suspicion of being gay are hauntingly missing from their graduation portrait.  Nonetheless Paula went on to serve a four year tour of duty, during which she became the first female Naval Investigative Officer to carry a gun.  After, she became a police officer, a tattoo artist, an investigator for the National Park Service and a corrections officer where she worked with many transgendered inmates.  They call her Steel Rose.


Paula Tyer, Among Dreams

When I realized I was gay I had just started dating.  I’ll never forget this one time I was sitting in the back of the car with my boyfriend, and there was this girl sitting in the front seat with her boyfriend making out. I remember the whole time I’m in the back kissing my boyfriend, I’m wondering what the girl kisses like in the front seat. And I don’t think you’re supposed to think those things, I think you’re supposed to be into your boyfriend, but I wasn’t…

Basically, the military was no different from living your everyday life wherever you were as a civilian.  We all lived in fear.  I knew a young girl, who when her parents found out she was gay, they had her committed to a mental institution.  If companies found out you were gay, they would fire you.  If your parents found out, they would disown you.  If people generally found out, you could be beat up on the street.  So, why was the military any different?


Denny Meyer

Interview conducted- November 20, 2011 & January 16, 2013

Denny Meyer is a U.S. Army and Navy Veteran.  Beyond a decade of service, Denny is an equality activist; he is the editor of the online archive Gay Military Signal, and serves as the President of the New York Chapter of American Veterans for Equal Rights.  His parents were survivors of the Holocaust and before he lost his lover of 20 years to “the second Holocaust, AIDS…that was the twenty years [he] didn’t have any bad dreams.”


Sargent First Class Denny Meyer, 2012, Chelsea Rae Klein, Among Dreams

I saw him and I was in love.  I was very shy and walked past him ten times and never would have said anything.  But he reached out and grabbed me.‘You might as well say hello.’  That’s how the next twenty years began.  This was in the middle of my service, which is why eventually I left and didn’t reenlist yet again after ten years, because I had a lot of respect and responsibility and high rank, and the higher you get, the more you’re looked at.  I got tired of hiding in the supermarket afraid of who would see us together- so I just left for freedom. I wasn’t caught; I was honorably discharged as a Sergeant First Class, which is not too shabby.  I was leading a double life as any gay person in the military was [in the late 70s] and it just felt dirty.  Back in those days if you were caught, your piers could kill you if you were overseas or on a ship- you could be murdered and they’d get away with it…

My mother, who actually escaped the Holocaust and lost her whole family- she didn’t know how to hug or anything.  She did a wonderful job raising me and taught me to be a survivor but I don’t think I was ever hugged.  So, when I was with my lover, for twenty years, we slept together every night wrapped around each other.  And that was the twenty years I didn’t have any bad dreams.  After he died of AIDS, it took two or three years before I could stop saying ‘we’ and say ‘I’, and before I could learn how to sleep again.