The OutHeroes Project: Nicole Galvin

In Honor of Nicole Galvin

by Michelle Benecke, Esq.

After three years at West Point, Nicole Galvan was looking forward to graduating from the academy the following year and being commissioned as an Army officer. Instead of joining the long grey line, however, she joined the long line of women who were lesbian baited and forced to leave under DADT.

In February 1996, just after Galvan’s 21st brithday, she was questioned by her commander, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Turner, about her relationship with another cadet: “Are you friends, pen pals or lovers?” When she replied “friends,” he was not satisfied and continued his diatribe in which he mentioned homosexuality several times. Galvan later heard from another cadet who was an eye witness to this incident that LTC Turner had questioned the other cadet and and asked her to speculate on Galvan’s sexual orientation.

Galvan approached some faculty members who helped her write a memo explaining the harassment. When the memo reached top West Point officers, LTC Turner retaliated by calling Galvan back in for questioning and ordering his subordinates to seize her personal journal. Galvan had started keeping the journal on the advice of a West Point grief counselor in the wake of her mother’s death. A witch hunt ensued against every woman (but none of the men) mentioned in the journal.

Galvan’s father tried to intervene with West Point officials including the Commandant, General Graves, but he was rebuffed and forced to step down as President of the West Point Parents Club of Northern California.

After a hearing panel recommended her separation, Galvan decided it was best to leave. However, she contacted Servicemembers Legal Defense Network to cut off the witch hunt against other women and, after leaving, spoke publicly about her ordeal because she did not want what happened to her to happen to anyone else.

Galvan returned home to California and finished college at California State University at Hayward. Today, she works as a personal trainer and fitness Bootcamp instructor with START and is about to enter the Fire Academy to become a firefighter. She and her partner of seven years, Elana, have a three year-old daughter, Zoe, and live in Laguna Beach, CA.

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