Mike Almy only came out to his parents after he became a leading activist pushing repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. ''I always feared my mom's reaction," he says. "I didn't want to see her cry or be depressed." In fact, his mother did almost cry when she heard him on NPR. ''She was so proud of me for doing the interview and for the work I've done on repeal,'' he says. ''[And both his parents, even his retired Air Force colonel father] wished I had told them sooner, wished they had been there for me.''
If only more parents were so supportive. If only the DADT repeal act had been passed sooner than late last year. Almy, who was discharged five years ago under DADT after 13 years of stellar service in the Air Force, hopes to return to active duty or the reserves. But despite a ''tremendous year,'' in which he met and mingled with the likes of Lady Gaga, Kathy Griffin, Rachel Maddow and Senators Lieberman and Levin on the way to President Obama signing DADT's repeal implementation into law, ''nothing is going to ever fully repair that damage or restore my career.''
Still, DADT repeal calls for a celebration. ''It's one more step toward full equality for all of us,'' confirms Almy.
The Gay Men's Chorus will serenade Almy and other LGBT servicemembers next Saturday, Feb. 12. ''We're going to share stories about gays in the military dating back to the Civil War, [and] songs that relate throughout our country's history,'' says artistic director Jeff Buhrman of the USO-style show Let's Hear It For The Boys. Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) will be honored with the chorus's 2011 Harmony Award for its support of LGBT soldiers. And several chorus members who have served will share their stories as well as sing.
As for Almy? He says he'll just speak about his story, adding that he sings ''only in the shower, and in the car.''
The Gay Men's Chorus of Washington performs Saturday, Feb. 12, at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. at The Church of the Epiphany, 1317 G St. NW. Tickets are $35. Call 202-293-1548 or visit gmcw.org.