This is an amazing article, Dayon, so raw and honest.

When I was in the military, I served with a Black man who graduated from the Naval Academy. He was a near contemporary of David Robinson, just to admit how ancient this story is.

When I first knew him, he was very soft spoken, very “white acting” if I can say that without offending, and very well liked.

Our careers separated us for a while, but when I ran into him again, he had changed a lot. He didn’t code switch much anymore. Unless he was giving an intel briefing or performing some other professional function, he spoke in a Black vernacular, I assume the one he grew up with.

He wasn’t soft spoken anymore either. He was very very tall and had a deep, resonate voice that could naturally dominate group settings. He let happen much more than when I first knew him.

He wasn’t popular anymore. Staff officers I served with whispered behind his back and people in the ranks openly dissed him.

He had become, I think, too Black in the eyes of many, even though he was the same brilliant intelligence officer he’d always been.

He did not, needless to say, make the military a career.

In light of the story you’ve just written, I’m curious about your thoughts. Here’s a man who was gifted enough to win admission to one of the most exclusive educational institutions in the US, but later decided that he couldn’t put up with the compromises he presumably had to make to succeed there.

Does that resonate with you?

Also, I’m very curious about your own experiences in today’s military. You’re obviously bright and accomplished. Can you be yourself in the Navy? Can you be proud of who you are without the compromises that caused my friend to jump ship?

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot.

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