First Openly Gay Cadets Graduate from Air Force Academy

By Julie Bolcer

Originally published on Advocate.com May 24 2012 10:51 AM ET

The first openly gay cadets graduated Wednesday from the U.S. Air Force Academy, eight months after the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy took effect. 

ABC News reports on the graduation in Colorado Springs, Colo., which featured an address by President Barack Obama. According to a report from KMGH-TV, Obama focused his speech on the “new feeling about America” that has been generated around the world during his term. 

"We can say with confidence and pride: The United States is stronger, safer and more respected in the world," he said. "There's a new feeling about America. I see it everywhere I go, from London and Prague, to Tokyo and Seoul, to Rio and Jakarta. There's a new confidence in our leadership."

The speech was the president’s last commencement address of the season, according to KMGH-TV. Graduation ceremonies are scheduled for this Saturday at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where Vice President Joe Biden will be the featured speaker, and at the U.S. Naval Academy on Tuesday.

Trish Heller, leader of the Blue Alliance, an association of LGBT Air Force Academy alumni, told ABC News that gay cadets were happy to blend into the graduating class rather than stand out. She said that her group was aware of at least four openly LGBT members of the class of 2012.

Students and others affiliated with the academy reported a smooth transition since repeal took effect last September.

“The Air Force Academy group – called Spectrum – was officially sanctioned earlier this month and had about 30 members from across all classes, the organizers said,” according to ABC News. “The Air Force Academy’s administration has also allowed the Blue Alliance to have a more high-profile role on campus. The group flew rainbow flags during a tailgate party before a home football game in November, Heller said, and hosted a dinner attended by the dean of faculty, Gen. Dana Born. In February, the group participated in a campus leadership symposium, she said.”

Watch the report.