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Army head: I never thought my career was possible as an openly gay man

Nick Duffy June 5, 2016

The openly gay head of the US Army has said he was saddened to learn as a young man that he couldn’t serve.

Obama nominee Eric Fanning became the United States Secretary of the Army last month, making history as the first out man to head a military branch.

The appointment came less than five years on from ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ – which had banned openly gay people from serving in the military altogether.

Speaking to Today, Fanning said he had considered serving as a young man only to come up against the law.

He said: “I grew up in a military family. I have two uncles that went to West Point.

“And it was absolutely something that I considered, but wasn’t allowed to serve and so chose another route.”

He added that working in the Whte House in the 1990s had convinced him that there was no chance he would be accepted.

He said: “I was first in this building in the Clinton administration as a 24-year-old junior aide and I ended up leaving, because I didn’t see that there was a future for me as an openly gay man, and so to be able to come back in this job is beyond what I had ever imagined.”

Fanning added: “I feel responsibility as secretary of the Army, not just because of the historical nature of the appointment because I’m gay.

“[But] I embrace it, because it’s so important to so many people, I realize. And it’s something I didn’t have 25 years ago.”

“It is the best job that I have ever had — and an incredible honor.”

Fanning has been out, loud and proud in his first few weeks in office, thanking his partner in his official address before tweeting Beyoncé to promise to ‘#Slay’ after months of making #LEMONADE.

More: Army, Barack Obama, chief, eric fanning, head, obama, secretary, US, US, White House

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