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OutServe Magazine | October 20, 2013

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Uniting One Year After Repeal

Uniting One Year After Repeal
Joseph White

OutServe’s Missouri Chapter Organizes

By Joseph D. White
A year after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), a small group from the Missouri OutServe chapter gathered near Fort Leonard Wood to discuss one of the first attempts among all OutServe chapters to formulate and implement a formal constitution at the local level.

Their goal for organizing under such a construct is to better establish the group’s leadership and find ways to attract and keep group members.

The chapter has a lot of challenges ahead with cultivating new members who are willing to participate. “Fear of being outed is a definite reality, and that does play a role in the lack of participation in the group,” said Jessica, a chapter member. “I completely understand and respect those who are still in the closet or just not completely comfortable with serving openly in the military, whether it is for personal or professional reasons. I just hope that those people will realize that OutServe is not only about celebrating the LGBT military community, but it is also about supporting those military members who are still trying to find their way and build that confidence. We are here to support each other no matter what.”

Some feel that for those still in the closet, OutServe leadership, particularly at the local level, should help quell the fear of being bullied for being different. “I think that part of the problem has to do with lack of networking,” Jessica said. “From my experience so far, finding people who want to join the group has been a challenge because there isn’t much common ground. Most of the current members in the group are spread out over the state of Missouri, and that brings another problem, which is lack of exposure.”

The Missouri chapter’s constitution attempts to accomplish the following goals:

• To serve as a common voice and vision for the chapter leaders and members;

• To flesh out duties of the chapter leader, the co-lead and the members;

• To set rules on the protection of the privacy and security of each member.

To foster camaraderie under their fresh new charter, the Missouri chapter organized a day trip to Meramec Caverns in Stanton, Mo. The group toured the cave, its beauty and splendor created millions of years ago with hundreds of stalactites and stalagmites.

“I thought that visiting the caverns was a great way to spend the day with some of the OutServe Missouri family,” Jessica said. “I found the tour to be unexpectedly crowded, but the view was awesome. My favorite part of the day was the boat ride; it was very relaxing, and our boat guide was amazing. I think that the overall experience of the trip gave us a sense of camaraderie as well as a step in the right direction for future OutServe Missouri events.”

The experience also served as a history lesson for the group, who learned how archeologists concluded the cave was shelter for Native Americans. Later, after being discovered by miners, the cave was used for extracting saltpeter for gunpowder. Saltpeter was rumored as an anti-aphrodisiac used by the military during basic training, but its supposed property of reducing sexual rowdiness was later debunked.

As a military ropes course fosters confidence, some of the members tried the zip line. “I was not in the mood to zip line, so I took pictures and guarded the personal belongings,” Jessica said. “But the scene was entertaining to watch. I got some good laughs out of it. I do plan to get on the zip line the next time I visit the cavern.”

Said Nichole, another chapter member and the adrenaline junkie of the group: “I think it brought us together a lot.”

After a scenic boat ride on the Meramec River, the chapter members packed back into their truck and called it a night, debating the challenges of growing their membership on the way home.