The first openly gay homosexual cadets graduated Wednesday from the U.S. Air Force Academy, eight months after the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) policy took effect.
The graduation in Colorado Springs, Colo., featured an address by President Barack Obama. Obama focused his speech on the “new feeling about America” that has been generated around the world during his term.
“We can say with confidence and pride: The United States is stronger, safer and more respected in the world,” he said. “There’s a new feeling about America. I see it everywhere I go, from London and Prague, to Tokyo and Seoul, to Rio and Jakarta. There’s a new confidence in our leadership.”
The speech was the president’s last commencement address of the season. Graduation ceremonies are scheduled for this Saturday 26 May at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where Vice President Joe Biden will be the featured speaker, and at the U.S. Naval Academy on Tuesday.
Trish Heller, leader of the Blue Alliance, an association of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, and Bi-sexual, Transgender) Air Force Academy alumni, said that gay cadets were happier to blend into the graduating class rather than stand out. She said that her group was aware of at least four openly LGBT members of the class of 2012.
Students and others affiliated with the academy reported a smooth transition since repeal of DADT took effect last September.
“The Air Force Academy group – called Spectrum – was officially sanctioned earlier this month and had about 30 members from across all classes, the organizers said. “The Air Force Academy’s administration has also allowed the Blue Alliance to have a more high-profile role on campus. The group flew rainbow flags during a tailgate party before a home football game in November, Heller said, and hosted a dinner attended by the dean of faculty, Gen. Dana Born. In February, the group participated in a campus leadership symposium, she said.”