I’m From Kewanee, IL.

by ryan branom

On that fateful day, I stepped into my guidance counselor’s office and asked, “Is he here yet?”

She shook her head. “What made you decide this?”

“I’m not sure.” And the truth of the matter was that I really wasn’t sure at all. Everyone has those spur of the moment decisions where they realize that maybe they want to break out and try something new.

A moment later, I heard a knock on the door. I turned around, and there he was. Standing over six foot tall, dressed nicely in white dress slacks and a military jacket, on the other side of that door stood a Marines staff sergeant, and he was here to talk to me. Ryan, the smart kid with the awesome grades. Ryan, the kid who had never joined a sports team after 6th grade. Ryan, the open–and ever so slightly blatant–homosexual.

The staff sergeant came in, and we talked for quite some time. We’d discussed many things: how I’ll be able to go to college and serve as a Marine; how my intelligence would be greatly cherished in the Marines; why I should join. But never once did we discuss my sexual orientation. I suppose that sometimes, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell seems like a good idea after all.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t think it’s okay for the gay community to be limited in how open they are in the military, but I do think that, as an unimportant factor in this case, it makes sense not to worry about it. What’s really important is personal development, the reason why I’ve chosen to follow this path in my life, serving as a member of the U.S. Marine Core as a gay teenager.


  1. Good luck! What did make you decide to join though?

  2. Actually, since sending the story in about a month and a half ago, I decided against joining.

    The main reason why I had wanted to join was simply to prove to everyone that I was fully capable. When people look at me, they definitely don’t think that I can handle something so difficult. I’m not sure if I could’ve, but I wanted to find out for myself instead of allowing everyone to judge me.

    I have realized since then that even though I may never know whether or not I’d be capable, I do know that I’ll be able to make a difference in society without fighting for its freedom. I know that with my intelligence, I should be allowing others to fight and develop physically, while I am making a difference through influencing others in my community to make as strong of an impact as I hope I am making.

    As a small update, I’ve been accepted to two colleges already–Loras and North Central–and I’ve applied to Marquette and Augustana. My dream, though, is to go to Grinnell College and pursue a career in either education or journalism, neither of which I would be doing if I HAD gone into the military.

  3. Ryan,

    Best to you wherever life takes you.

  4. Best of luck wherever you go, Ryan! We need intelligent people in our communities, our schools, and our military- you will find a place that values you. Sounds like you’re going to do great wherever. (I went to a school similar to Grinnell and loved it!) And bless that staff sargeant for not bringing up your orientation. There are good people everywhere.

  5. Pingback: LGBT veterans and DADT: True stories from I’m from Driftwood | Bent Alaska

Comments are closed