The Chicago Chapter of the American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER) hosted the annual Veterans Day dinner with gay veterans and friends at Ann Sathers on Belmont Nov. 11. Speakers were two active duty sailors, members of Gay, Lesbian and Supporting Sailors (GLASS), the Great Lakes Naval Base organization of openly gay military. The GLASS model began at Great Lakes has been duplicated on other military bases.
Hospital Corpsman Third Class Brian Ruiz and Hospital Corpsman Third Class Richard Dumbrique spoke about life in the military post-Don't Ask, Don't Tell. While some of their fellow sailors remain unwelcoming, said Corpsman Dumbrique, most have no problem serving with openly gay sailors. And if someone has a problem, said Dumbrique, it is not a threat to the gay sailors and they can live with it. "One of my shipmates asked if I was gay. I just said yes and asked if he wanted to cuddle. He said no, so I went to sleep." Ruiz spoke of the sacrifices that all military members make and the added burdens of serving in the military while being closeted, thanking the gay veterans for their work in overturning the law that supported the military's anti-gay policy. Photo by Tracy Baim.
AVER honored both speakers with the presentation of the Happy Warrior award. Also honored for their long term service and participation were AVER members Ed Zasadil, US Army WWII Veteran (pictured), Larry Simpson and Al Treb. Photo by Tracy Baim.