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Navy rape survivor's message to bullied gay kids

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Jose Antonio Rodriguez is a U.S. Navy veteran who was discharged under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' after his sexual orientation was discovered following being drugged, kidnapped, and brutally raped. Rodriguez has since become an outspoken advocate for repeal of the antiquated law.

Rodriguez is so disturbed by reports of recent suicides of gay teens because of school bullying that he sends this personal message to all LGBT youth:

I know it may be tough to be a young gay person. I know it's hard to have to hide your true essence and live a happy childhood and be who you really are. I understand it's hard to have to hide in front of family and friends as you grow up to be the man or woman God brought into this world. I ask you to keep faith and not give in to all the bullying and harassment.

I was once in the closet, just like you, and felt the pain and mental anguish of hiding who I really was until my 28th birthday last year. I was raped by a group of men in June 2008 while I was still in the Navy. My fellow sailors then perceived me to be gay, and harassed me because of the rape at the hands of other men. They were right - I was a gay man, yet I did not deserve to be treated in a hateful manner. But I stood strong and I am winning the battle now. I ask you to do the same.

I understand how you feel, but I beg you to please not give up. Please stand strong and DEMAND EQUALITY. You are all God's childern and he loves us all!! You are beautiful to everyone. We are not different. We are just a little more special, because God made us special, with love, and with love to give. You are beautiful in my eyes and everyone's eyes. LIVE WITH PRIDE AND LIVE IN YOUR TRUE ESSENCE! I love you all, so please don't give up. You are the ones coming up in the world and we need a strong generation for years to come. You are not weak. So please, be patient and stand up with pride and fight for your equality!


US NAVY Gay Veteran
Jose A. Rodriguez

Look for an exclusive interview with Rodriguez coming soon to this column!

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  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    Way to Stand Up For Our Youth

  • Anonymous 1 year ago

    He got kicked out not because he's gay, he got kicked out because he did drugs. Popped 3 times on piss test. He won't tell you the real reason, but that's the truth. Nobody cared if you're gay in the Navy.