I first began considering the Army ROTC in high school when I realized there was no way I could afford to pay full tuition towards my college education. I figured that the ROTC would provide me good training, job placement afterwards, while I wouldn’t have to worry about paying for college.
After my transition from Michelle Valiant to Michael Valiant in 2008, my former “friends”(if I can even call them that in hindsight), shunned me, but my family remained supportive of my decision. Though you wouldn’t be able to tell just by looking at me or talking to me that I was at one point Michelle Valiant and not the man you see today, I do feel that my future friends do deserve to know about my past. Without knowing a person’s past, it is impossible to truly be their friend.
When I joined the ROTC at Rutgers in Fall 2010, I realized that I would have to, for the most part, tone down my LGBT activism that I couldn’t join college groups such as biGlaru and others. Even though, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed in the same year I began my ROTC program at Rutgers University, I could see that there was some animosity towards Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Americans in the armed services. Considering that I was in a testosterone filled zone where words like, “fag” and “homo” were thrown around all the time, at first, I feared telling my new friends about my background.