Staff Writer Jax Gay
Last weekend West Point played host to the military academy’s first same-sex wedding featuring two active-duty officers. Captain Daniel Hall and Captain Vincent Franchino were wed in Cadet Chapel in a ceremony officiated by a Unitarian Universalist minister.
The two met at the academy in 2009, when Hall was a senior and Franchino was a freshman, and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was still a year away from being repealed.
“We’ve experienced everything from people feeling awkward around us to being called faggots while holding hands and walking down the street, stuff like that,” Franchino told The New York Times. “But despite what we’ve been through, nothing was worse than having served during the ‘ Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ years.”
Through those years he and Hall had to keep their sexuality—and their relationship—secret.
“We couldn’t tell the truth for fear of what would happen to us,” Franchino says. “So we put it in our minds that we were never going to say we were gay. We were never going to get made fun of, and we were certainly never going to get kicked out of the Army.”
The two, who are now both Apache helicopter pilots, learned about each other through mutual friends, Hall recalls, but even thought their was a mutual attraction “we couldn’t say or do anything about it.”
“It’s really frustrating when two people have feelings for each other but are not allowed to act on them,” he tells the Times. “We were serving under a policy that was telling all of us—perfectly capable soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines—to lie about ourselves.”
Sue Fulton and Penny Gnesin became the first same-sex couple married in Cadet Chapel (above) in 2012. A year later, Larry and Daniel Lennox-Choate became the first gay-male couple—and the first where both were former cadets.
“Breaking the glass ceiling doesn’t matter unless others follow behind—that is true progress,” wrote Larry Lennox-Choate on Facebook. “We’re running out of firsts and that’s a beautiful thing.”