President Obama yesterday named Brenda S. Fulton, a retired Army Captain who is also a lesbian, to the Board of Visitors of the United States Military Academy at West Point, making her the first openly LGBT person to serve there.
Fulton’s military career began in 1980, when she was one of the first women to graduate from West Point, and led her to a five-year stint in Germany. She eventually became a captain and left with an honorable discharge.
After leaving the service, Fulton realized she’s a lesbian and began campaigning against homophobia in the military, eventually co-founding Knights Out, a group for LGBT West Point graduates, as well as OutServe, an organization that represents service members who cannot reveal their sexual identity.
Remarking on her new appointment, Fulton said she hopes “it [will] symbolize to all people gay and straight that anti-gay bias in the military is a thing of the past.”
“I would hope it would tell them that if you’re willing to serve your country and you’re qualified, other factors don’t matter,” she said. “I see my role as in some sense helping West Point send that message — that we respect all people equally. That’s part of our values, that’s part of our code.”
Photo credit: JoAnn Santangelo’s “Proud to Serve”