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 Knights Out

West Point
LGBT Alumni
Come Out

WEST POINT LGBT ALUMNI GROUP OFFERS SUPPORT TO ALMA MATER
Organizers offer partnership with the nation’s oldest military academy as the end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” quickly approaches.

WEST POINT, NY – A courageous group of America’s best and brightest are once again answering their call to duty, honor, and country: by coming out of the closet.

“Knights Out,” an association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) West Point Alumni and their supporters emerged from anonymity today to support thousands of LGBT Soldiers currently serving in the armed forces, and to educate the current military leadership on the importance of accepting and honoring the sacrifices and selfless service of their LGBT soldiers and officers. 

As congress approaches the decision to allow LGBT military personnel to serve openly, the group is prepared to serve as a critical support and advocacy group for the full acceptance of gay service members, particularly at West Point.

By publicly outing themselves, the 37 members of Knights Out ended once and for all the anonymity that has obscured from full view their service to the nation as West Point graduates.  Knights Out seeks to reduce the stigma associated with sexual diversity by providing an open forum for discussion between out LGBT West Point graduates and their fellow alumni.  Knights Out is well-positioned to help West Point maintain its status as the world’s premier leadership institution by swiftly and effectively adapting to the end of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which Knights Out believes is both imminent and inevitable.   

Colonel (Retired) Stewart Bornhoft, West Point class of 1969 and Vietnam combat veteran, welcomed the formation of Knights Out: “All West Pointers, regardless of their own sexual orientation, will soon be charged with leading soldiers who freely acknowledge their diverse orientations.  Just as we set the example for the successful integration of the races and genders, we will have that same responsibility when our nation joins the family of 26 other militaries that have implemented the freedom to serve openly.  When open service is enacted, the words of the Cadet Prayer - ‘…never to be content with a half truth when the whole truth can be won’ – will once again be our guidepost.”

On the 207th anniversary of the founding of West Point, it is fitting that Knights Out brings over 275 combined years of Active Duty service of their LGBT members to assist West Point and the AOG.  The organization takes its name after West Point’s mascot, the Black Knight, a selfless warrior whose identity must be hidden but emerges to save the day nonetheless.

Knights Out is led by a board of LGBT West Point graduates and their supporters. The group includes combat veterans and leaders in their local communities.  All are also members of the Service Academy Gay and Lesbian Alumni (SAGALA) network, with over 340 members, a number which includes some Active Duty combat commanders currently in Iraq and Afghanistan.  SAGALA protects member identities because of the current discriminatory policy.

Under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, gay and lesbian service members are allowed to serve in the United States armed forces, but are not permitted to tell coworkers their sexual orientation, living a secret life in exchange for the opportunity to serve. Because West Point cadets live by the Honor Code, that they “will not lie, cheat or steal, nor tolerate those who do,” LGBT cadets and graduates are frequently forced to compromise their integrity. This policy undermines the Army Values of Honor, Integrity, and Respect, resulting in the premature resignation of many talented service members and West Point graduates.  

 For additional information see the Knights out Fact Sheet
and visit the Knights Out website
:
www.knightsout.org

  2009  Gay Military Signal