Entertainment :: Books

Closets, Combat and Coming Out

by JC Alvarez
Wednesday Apr 2, 2014
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With our LGBT now moving at the speed of light, it’s never been more important to capture the stories that will shape generations to come. With every bit of telling, we are able to create a snapshot and glimpse into the commonalities that make us all more alike and less different from one another. Recent social changes that have led to the growing demand for marriage equality across the United States, same-sex parenting and adoption rights, and even how our service men and women live their lives openly while defending our freedoms, are impacting young people and encouraging them to live their lives out loud!

Rob Smith’s story is chronicled in his memoir "Closets, Combat and Coming Out: Coming of Age as a Gay Man in the ’Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ Army." Smith takes the reader behind the lines and into the trenches, detailing his struggles and insecurities as a young man serving in a military that may not have wanted him in the first place. In detail, Smith reveals his desperate move to improve his life. Feeling that he has little to save him from becoming another statistic, he enlists in the Army.

He leaves behind what little he had in Ohio and, from the minute he steps off the bus and into basic training, his trials begin. Fort Benning, Georgia -┬áthe pride of military might. Here is the basis from which "real men" are made. For Rob Smith it becomes a life challenge. From being made to feel that he is worthless and unable to keep up with the rest of the new troops, the bullying is almost immediate. It’s a reminder to him that he is "different" from the rest of the soldiers.

Facing the adversity, Smith steps up to the plate pushing himself physically and mentally to fit in and become what the Army wants him to become. It isn’t an experience without its pitfalls. It’s a difficult challenge for him to make friends and being honest about who he really is becomes a struggle. After all, why should Smith have to lie that he’s attracted to other men? Well, during that time that Rob Smith served, he could be discharged and "being gay" in that man’s army could get him fired from serving.

With little hope of believing a successful life outside of the Army, which was his ticket to college, Smith details the double life he had to lead while moving up the chain of command. From having to lie about his being gay, to fearing being discovered, to contemplating suicide, Rob Smith lays his life experience out on the line, as a young man battling himself and the expectation placed on him to perform as a soldier. It’s a tale about compromise, and what someone must give up for the sake of living. But is living a lie truly living at all?

Smith does not hold back and his story could be anyone’s, but fortunately with his sharing this piece of his history, he has made it possible to look at one person’s moment in time, that is now forever changed. Here is a lesson learned, where you can truly choose to become all that you can be, and especially be true to yourself.

Closets, Combat and Coming Out Coming Of Age as a Gay Man In the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" Army
is available as a paperback and on digital for $12.99

Buy it now from Amazon!

Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".

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