Marine Recruiters Visit Gay Center in Oklahoma
Marines Hit the Ground Running in Seeking Recruits at Gay Center - NYTimes.com
By ELISABETH BUMILLER
Published: September 20, 2011
TULSA, Okla. — Master Sgt. Anthony Henry, a top Marine recruiting trainer for the southwestern United States, pulled up to Tulsa’s biggest gay community center on Tuesday morning and left his Chevy where he could make a fast getaway. ‘I have an exit strategy,’ he said. ‘I know where my choke points are, I’ve strategically parked my car right on the curbside, I have an out.’
‘My take is, if they can make it through our boot camp, which is the toughest boot camp in the world, then they ought to have the opportunity to wear the uniform.’ — Master Sgt. Anthony Henry
But as it happened, one of the strangest days in the history of the United States Marine Corps unfolded without the protests and insults that Sergeant Henry had feared. Sergeant Henry, who had been invited to set up a recruiting booth on the first day of the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center in downtown Tulsa, instead spent it in quiet conversation with a trickle of gay women who came in to ask about joining the Marines.
‘It’s your business and you don’t have to share it,’ Sergeant Henry told Ariel Pratt, 20, who asked whether she would face discrimination in the military as a lesbian serving openly. ‘But you’re also free to be at the mall with your girlfriend.’
Ms. Pratt, 20, asked Sergeant Henry what he liked about the Marines.
‘It’s like a little family,’ he said. ‘We get mad at each other, we joke with each other, but we don’t let anybody else make fun of us.’
‘That’s pretty cool,’ she said.