A memoir from the U.S. Army soldier booed at the Republican presidential primary debate of 2011 for asking about upholding the rights of gay and lesbian soldiers.
Snyder-Hill (formerly Steve Hill) is a gay man who was deployed twice to Iraq: first, as a 20-year-old member of the active Army in 1991, when the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was in full swing; and 20 years later, as a reservist when DADT was just getting repealed. In his relentlessly forthright memoir, the Ohio native sifts through the long, emotionally arduous journey to that moment in 2011 when he allowed his identity to be used publicly in his question to Rick Santorum, knowing the “fallout” that surely would follow among his Army peers and superiors and even risking his benefits and retirement. Ultimately, however, the author decided that he could not continue to lie about such a significant part of his identity. He writes poignantly of that “darkness” inside him that he did not understand while growing up in his small Ohio town. Not able to connect romantically with girls—though he knew that his parents expected it of him—Snyder-Hill was severely closeted throughout his teens, often undergoing torments of self-loathing without understanding why. At the end of his first deployment in Iraq, nearly hit by friendly fire, he swore to himself that if he lived, he would start living life for himself. At Ohio State University, he gradually came out to friends and family. Redeployment as a reservist meant having to hide again, especially the fact of his love and marriage to partner Josh Snyder. The author effectively underscores the damage and suspicions that DADT caused and reveals the heartening and often surprisingly support he received from all directions.
How one man’s resolve gave courage to others and how he turned his public outing into an important surge of activism.