Student who had to drop out of West Point celebrates repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
By Kathleen Megan
The Hartford Courant
HARTFORD, Conn. — With the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” effective Tuesday morning, Katherine Miller said she woke up and “I felt a little bit lighter. It just felt like the world was a better place today.”
Miller was a top cadet who left West Point a year ago to enter Yale University because, as a lesbian, she could no longer live with the military requirement that she hide her sexual orientation.
“First I started lying because I thought that was the way to handle it,” Miller reflected a year ago on her experience at the academy. “The lies started spiraling to the point where I didn’t even know who I was.”
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Now a Yale senior slated to graduate in May as a political science major, Miller, 21, said “it feels amazing” to think that she will be able to re-enter the military and be honest about her sexual identity.
When President Barack Obama signed legislation repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” in December, Miller reapplied to West Point, but she was turned down in April because at that point, it was unclear exactly when the policy would be lifted.
That was disappointing she said, but she plans to start officer candidate school after Yale, which she said, is “an equally good way to get into the military” as graduating from West Point.
Of her experience at Yale, she said, “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s been a whole other experience — a little bit of a shock.”
At Yale, she said, the freedom to be herself and speak her mind — “that’s been wonderful.”
“It felt great having a political voice,” Miller said. “I wasn’t silent anymore. I could say what was on my mind.”
Miller did a lot of public speaking, appearing on television shows with Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews and Anderson Cooper. Her story was on the front page of The New York Times and she accompanied Lady Gaga to MTV’s Video Music Awards last year.
Also, while at Yale, Miller said she got to see “an actual functioning LBGT (lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender) community whereas at West Point it’s very much hidden and secret … We all felt that sense of shame being part of a counterculture.”
At Yale, she’s also learned more about being a feminist, she said. “That was kind of a derogatory term at West Point. At West Point, it was synonymous with being a man-hater. … At Yale, everyone had a sense of respect and regard for women.”
The military has improved some, Miller said, “but Yale is a much better model. It’s much further progressed than West Point in terms of gender relationships.”
Miller acknowledged that in some ways it will be hard to go back into the military. She won’t be able to speak out so publically, to talk to the media.
But, she said, the repeal means that she will be able to be who she is: a lesbian who wants to serve her country.
“There will be a sense of honor and distinct pride,” she said, “in putting the uniform on again and just being Lt. Miller.”
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