A US Air Force Cadet is speaking out in the wake of the revelations that the US Air Force Academy has a gay conversion therapy advocate overseeing its counseling program, and a subsequent press release from the USAFA about how "happy" the gay cadets are there.
Earlier this week, Americablog broke the story that Dr. Mike Rosebush, an advocate of "gay conversion therapy" with deep ties to organizations like NARTH, Exodus, and other "ex-gay" groups, was overseeing the cadet counseling at the USAFA.
Following those revelations the USAFA issued a press release:
Regarding the allegations saying the Air Force’s Academy not being a welcoming place for LGBQ cadets, The Academy Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson (pictured), along with the Commandant of Cadets, Brig. Gen. Gregory Lengyel, and the Dean of the Faculty, Brig. Gen. Andrew Armacost, and Dr. Hans Mueh (Brig. Gen, ret.) Athletic Director recently met with Spectrum, the Academy’s affinity group for LGBQ cadets.
In that forum, the cadets expressed to Academy leaders that they are proud to be in the Air Force and do not feel like the Air Force Academy culture inhibits them in any way. Rather, they expressed their concerns about the media reports and how those reports may affect the decision of young Americans to attempt to come to the Academy.
One attendee at the forum was Air Force Capt. Michelle L. Reinstatler, an Instructor, Department of English and Fine Arts, and the Officer in Charge of Spectrum.
“During the forum with leadership, the cadets of Spectrum expressed multiple times that the Academy is a safe and validating place to be LGBQ,” Capt. Reinstatler said. ”Several cadets have told me they are frustrated with the articles disparaging USAFA; these articles do not take into account the extensive support our LGBQ cadets have received from Academy leadership or the reality of the Academy’s inclusive environment.”
The press release has inspired an unidentified gay cadet to send a letter to Mikey Weinstein, the founder and head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a group dedicated to maintaining the separation of church and state in the United States military.
Here it is, via the Huff Post:
I am writing this to you today as a client of the MRFF. I happen to be gay. Please keep all of my information confidential as you always do.
I happen to not be out and have no intention of ever being out while I attend USAFA. I am a current cadet at the United States Air Force Academy. I am a Christian. I am also an athlete on one of USAFA's most publicized NCAA intercollegiate teams here. I have been a client of the MRFF for a while now. It's the only help we have and it's a great source of security for me and other gay cadets. So thank you always for that.
I saw USAFA's self serving press release today about how "happy" all the gay cadets are here. How nice of all of the powers that be to meet with the Spectrum Club all of the sudden now that they're in the shits with the media and getting jacked up everywhere for hiring Rosebush. Of course to be in Spectrum you have to out yourself. If I and the many other cadets I know who are LGB came out it would be devastating for our cadet and future Air Force careers. I could never stay on my intercollegiate team. Being LGB here is like not being an "all in" Christian. You're finished.
What a crock that press release is. What a crock the academy leaders are for keeping Rosebush here. Anyways, I don't have time to elaborate. Mikey you know how bad it is because we tell you and you have seen it. Those of us who are LGB live in the worst fear of being outted at any moment and suffering for it. Maybe Rosebush can magically make us all "ungay"? Do you know how it makes us feel to know that our school has a man like that here? And how many other Rosebushes are here? If people can't see it now they never will. Having USAFA keep a person like Rosebush on staff at CCLD here shames all of us. He believes we made a choice to be LGB. He believes us to be "sick" with that gay disease. He believes we are sinning and will go to hell if we don't repent through Jesus and "choose" to be straight. And he has a "counseling" plan to make us all straight? Doesn't anyone of the highger ups here know how that makes us feel? It takes away our dignity as human beings. It takes away everything of value.
MIkey, I have to go study. Have finals. Hope this helps explain how so many of us feel destroyed now. Thank you and the MRFF for calling on the Air Force to fire Rosebush. As if that will ever happen.
The HuffPost's Lila Shapiro also spoke with Edith Disler, the director of LGBT affiars to the MRFF and a former faculty member at the academy, about the press release:
"Do you really think they're going to have an open and engaging conversation? I don't think so."
Disler is gay, which was not publicly known when she taught at the academy because she retired in 2009 before the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. "They've made gestures," she said, of the academy's attempts to obey the new law. "It's a big deal that they have an LGBTQ affinity group, and I'm glad there are some that feel they can attend it, but I think the overarching power structure is unchanged. The power structure is that people are silent."