Connect with us

Out October: My Journey To Lesbianhood: I Came Out Twice



Editor’s note:

This is the second in our month-long series, “The Out October Project,” designed to “help bring realization into people’s lives that there are others out there,” and that, “there is hope in numbers, there is strength in support.” You can see all the stories here.

Today’s story is by Tanya Domi, a former Army Captain who served for fifteen years and was
honorably discharged in 1990.  During her career, she survived the Ft. Deven’s witchhunt (1974-1975) and later was investigated as a Captain.  She works at Columbia University in New York City and lives with her partner Deborah Kasner and Bailey, her golden retriever.

I grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, an enclave of intolerance for any difference, but especially so during the 1960s and 1970s.

When one grows up in an oppressive environment, you are either subsumed into that intolerance—collapsed into espousing it actively or by complicity in active silence—or you push back and resist and become an “outlaw,” which I became, although, even as a teen I was respected by many peers for my vocal advocacy of equality for African Americans and women.

It took a long time for me to figure out I was a lesbian. I think my journey began in the fifth grade when I played basketball and softball in an Indianapolis city parks program. I was totally enthralled with my coach—Lynda, who I will never forget—and did everything imaginable to secure her attention and obtain her approval. She was a great basketball player and an even better fast pitch softball player. Here was this strong woman, who was self-possessed and was distinctly identified in the world for her athletic prowess, not through marriage. Her existence opened up my world to other possibilities that were not espoused for women in the 1960s. One of my sweetest memories is sitting next to Lynda on the bench and smelling her, as she wore “Tabu,” one of the popular fragrances of that era.

If I had “grown” out of my crush on Lynda, it would have been dismissed as a phase, but I never grew up or out of it. Looking back, I now know that Lynda was my first crush on a woman.

At the beginning of my sophomore year in college I became aware that I was on the horns of self-discovery—something was different for me—it was clear to me that I was not interested in men. I became aware that Karen, the resident assistant on my floor at Indiana University, was in a very close relationship with a woman. I became envious of their intimacy and finally realized that I really wanted a similar kind of relationship. And yet, I had not become conscious of my sexual feelings for women. A passing caress by one of IU swimmers toward me during a study session so frightened me that I ran out of her room, never discussing it again. I loved the feeling of her touch, but I ran away because of its unfamiliarity and taboo. If I wanted her touch, what would that make me? I could not go there just yet.

By the time I enlisted in the Army in 1974 (an accidental career precipitated by the pending divorce of my parents), I was headed toward a total embrace of lesbianism, although unbeknownst to me.

When I arrived to Ft. McClellan, Alabama, it was nearly midnight. As new privates in the U.S. Army, we were efficiently lined up and issued linens, towels, and promptly sent to bed in the early hours of the morning. I heard the cries of women around me before falling into a short and restless sleep. Suddenly, the bay lights came on for the first full day in basic training as the platoon sergeant shouted “all you sleeping beauties, rise and shine!”

Despite many misgivings about my career choice, I enjoyed the regiment and the rhythm of training. Saturday nights in the laundry room were sessions in shoe shining, ironing and sharing platoon gossip. Finally, one night, Nancy, sitting on the floor next to me as we leaned against the dryer, told me she was a “lesbian” and tilted over to kiss me. I did not resist. I was wowed and thrilled by her boldness. Her kiss and our mutual crush through basic training, culminated in a thrilling and frustrating night of clumsy love making in an Army issued pup tent during our field training exercise before graduation. Those moments changed me forever.

By the time I arrived to Ft. Devens, Massachusetts in March 1974, I was in the early days of loving women—the lovely days of discovering “true love” and of having found oneself. Not knowing or fully appreciating the dangers of the love, we dare not speak of; I went to Boston for the weekend with a group of women, which included my first visit to a gay bar called “The Other Side.” It was a weekend that furthered self-discovery, completely innocent and full of excitement.

Upon our return to base, all of us who went to the gay bar were called into security and read our Miranda rights—the accusation was for being a homosexual, a lesbian. I was so young, and not fully out to myself and not to the world. The investigation began and would not end for 15 months. And yet, while the infamous Ft. Devens witch-hunt continued, unabated in its viciousness, I persisted in my dangerous exploration and fell in love with Karen, my first love. This genuine love affair of the heart prompted a phone call to my mother, who I thought would be supportive and embrace my new self-discovery.

I remember how happy I was—so joyful in really knowing love for the first time. The moment I told my mother I had fallen in love with a woman and I felt I was gay, she responded by telling me: “your life will be so terrible and lonely.” I was shocked by her response—immediately changing the moment to a bittersweet one. Her response would create another wall between us, which would lengthen over the years.

I finished out my enlistment and went back to university to complete my bachelor’s degree and obtained my officer’s commission, while I remained in the Army Reserves.

Because of the Reagan recession, I reentered the Army in 1982 and remained in the closet. Yes, I knew I was gay, but I thought I could make a career in the Army because I was good at it and I loved the life of being a soldier. I did not fully understand how the Army’s enforcement of the gay ban would affect me emotionally. While I remained in the closet hiding, I would establish a successful career as an Army officer that would lead to my nomination to teach at West Point. And yet despite all the success, an investigation into my sexuality, triggered by a report I had made about a colleague who had sexually harassed me, finally woke me up to the belief that I would never have a healthy and happy personal life in the Army. It would only be a matter of time before I was “caught” being a lesbian and my life could be ruined.

I paid an incredibly high price for remaining in the military closet for all those years. Consequently, I never had a healthy, intimate relationship until several years after I left the Army behind, well into my late 30s. As the gay military ban issue began to heat up because of public demands for repeal of the discriminatory policy by returning veterans who served in Desert Storm, I proudly and publicly joined out military colleagues at the Pentagon on Veterans Day in 1991 declaring myself a lesbian, while we engaged in a protest. The pride of being out, being honest and truthful about who I am was a relief and removed a burden that has never returned. Being truthful for the first time in my adult life about being lesbian, created the emotional space for my horizons to expand and put me on a trajectory that has made for a purposive, thrilling at times, engaging and interesting life. I only wish I had come out sooner.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. The New Civil Rights Movement depends on readers like you to meet our ongoing expenses and continue producing quality progressive journalism. Three Silicon Valley giants consume 70 percent of all online advertising dollars, so we need your help to continue doing what we do.

NCRM is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. From unflinching coverage of religious extremism, to spotlighting efforts to roll back our rights, NCRM continues to speak truth to power. America needs independent voices like NCRM to be sure no one is forgotten.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure NCRM remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to NCRM, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.


Dominion Wins ‘Blockbuster Victories’ Against Fox News – Last Legal Issue Will Be Decided by a Jury: Report



Dominion Voting Systems won what are being called “blockbuster victories” Friday afternoon when a judge ruled the company suing Fox News for $1.6 billion in a major defamation lawsuit had met its burden of proof that Rupert Murdoch‘s far-right wing cable channel had repeatedly made false statements.

The final, and likely greatest legal issue Dominion will have to prove will be actual malice. That issue will be decided in a jury trial, Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis ruled Friday, according to Law & Crime.

Unlike previous cases, Fox News will reportedly not be able to argue the on-air statements its personalities made were opinion.

CNN legal analyst and Brookings senior fellow Norm Eisen calls Friday’s decision a “huge win for Dominion on their summary judgment motion against Fox News.”

READ MORE: Capitol Police Issue Warning Over Possible Trump Protests ‘Across the Country’

“Dominion won partial summary judgement that what Fox said about them was false! Now they just have to prove actual malice and damages,” Eisen says. “Meanwhile Fox’s motion was totally denied.”

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, an MSNBC contributor adds: “Dominion’s evidence Fox made false statements with reckless disregard  is as strong as any I’ve seen.”

The judge was very clear in his ruling.

“While the Court must view the record in the light most favorable to Fox, the record does not show a genuine issue of material fact as to falsity,” Judge Davis wrote. “Through its extensive proof, Dominion has met its burden of showing there is no genuine issue of material fact as to falsity. Fox therefore had the burden to show an issue of material fact existed in turn. Fox failed to meet its burden.”

READ MORE: ‘Propaganda Network’: Media Reporter Says Dominion Filing Exposes Fox News as ‘Void of the Most Basic Journalistic Ethics’

Attorney and MSNBC host and legal analyst Katie Phang points to this key passage in Judge Davis’ ruling.

Court watchers and news junkies are familiar at this point with the massive legal filings Dominion has made in which it exposed how Fox News knowingly made false statements regarding the 2020 presidential election. Those filings, each hundreds of pages, also detail internal Fox News communications and bombshell conversations between the company’s top personalities, executives, and even Chairman Rupert Murdoch.


Image of Rupert Murdoch via Shutterstock

Continue Reading


Capitol Police Issue Warning Over Possible Trump Protests ‘Across the Country’



The U.S. Capitol Police and the Senate Sergeant at Arms on Friday jointly issued a statement warning they “anticipate” Trump protests across the country. The statement is not time-specific, and it states it has no information on “credible threats,” but some Democratic offices are allowing staffers to work from home Friday and Tuesday.

“The Sergeant at Arms and United States Capitol Police (USCP) anticipate demonstration activity across the country related to the indictment of former President Trump. While law enforcement is not tracking any specific, credible threats against the Capitol or state offices, there is potential for demonstration activity. USCP is working with law enforcement partners, so you may observe a greater law enforcement presence on Capitol Hill,” the statement reads.

“The SAA and USCP are monitoring the potential nationwide impacts to Senate state offices,” it adds.

The House Sergeant at Arms was conspicuously absent from the statement. Speaker Kevin McCarthy has control over that office.

READ MORE: Trump Trial Could Go Well Into the 2024 Election – Or Possibly Even Past It: Former Prosecutor

Additionally, Axios is reporting, “several House Democrats are allowing staffers to work from home as a safety precaution,” noting that “the memory of Trump supporters ransacking the Capitol on Jan. 6 is still fresh on the mind.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) is allowing staff to work from home for safety reasons. She told Axios, “I don’t ever want to see a Jan. 6 again.”

“I’ve been in the Trump hate tunnel, Donald Trump has gone after me, and quite frankly I don’t have security. I don’t have entourages.”

She’s not the only Democrat to raise concerns.

“Much of the language from the former President and his devotees is similar to what inspired Jan. 6th,” U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips said. “I’m concerned about safety for my colleagues and my staff.”

READ MORE: ‘Lighting the Match’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Blasted for Off the Rails Rant Defending Trump

Meanwhile, House Republicans are issuing full-throated support for Trump and calling for protests.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), who was called out by name in a six-page letter Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg sent to Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan Friday morning, announced she will be in New York on Tuesday to support Trump when he is arraigned. She has posted several tweets since Trump was indicted.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy issued a statement Thursday seemingly designed to gin up rage and action in the MAGA base.

“Alvin Bragg has irreparably damaged our country in an attempt to interfere in our Presidential election. As he routinely frees violent criminals to terrorize the public, he weaponized our sacred system of justice against President Donald Trump. The American people will not tolerate this injustice, and the House of Representatives will hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account.”


Image by Elvert Barnes via Flickr and a CC license

Continue Reading


Trump Trial Could Go Well Into the 2024 Election – Or Possibly Even Past It: Former Prosecutor



Donald Trump, and all of America, could spend the next 18 months – or longer – engrossed in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s trial of the ex-president, and that could bring the trial close to Election Day.

That’s according to a former prosecutor in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, Charles Coleman, who is now a civil rights attorney and MSNBC legal analyst.

Asked by MSNBC’s Chris Jansing, “How long typically might a case like this take?” Coleman offered a two-tiered answer.

“A case like this is usually going to take a year or a year and a half,” Coleman said.

That could be through September of 2024.

READ MORE: ‘Lighting the Match’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Blasted for Off the Rails Rant Defending Trump

“Wow,” a surprised Jansing replied. “So it’s going right up into the campaign.”

“Absolutely,” agreed Coleman. “But it’s important to understand I said a case ‘like this.’ This particular case, I expect may take longer because I am anticipating a number of different legal maneuvers by Donald Trump’s defense team.”

That theoretically means into October of 2024, or longer.

“I do see motions to dismiss at a number of different terms, more likely than not to the point that the judge probably will ultimately end up admonishing them and telling them stop filing motions to dismiss. I think that that’s going to happen,” Coleman explained.

“I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, I do believe that we are going to see an attempt to try to change the venue, in this case outside of somewhere in the five boroughs. All of that is going to extend the time deeper and deeper into election season.”

READ MORE: Manhattan DA Unleashes on Jim Jordan With Stern Warning: You May Not ‘Interfere’ With Trump Prosecution

Reuters agrees, reporting Friday morning, “any potential trial is still at minimum more than a year away, legal experts said, raising the possibility that the former U.S. president could face a jury in a Manhattan courtroom during or even after the 2024 presidential campaign, as he seeks a return to the White House.”

And because “Trump’s case is far from typical,” Reuters notes, his trial could extend “past Election Day in November 2024.”





Continue Reading


Copyright © 2020 AlterNet Media.