WASHINGTON BLADE The death of a gay soldier in Iraq is drawing renewed attention to how the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy — and the mainstream media — help ensure that gays stay in the closet, even in death.
Maj. Alan Rogers, 40, a gay intelligence officer who served on a military transition team that trained Iraqi soldiers, died Jan. 27 in Baghdad from wounds caused by an improvised explosive device that detonated near him while he was conducting a patrol on his Humvee. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on March 14.
For sacrificing his life in the line of duty, the Army posthumously awarded Rogers a Purple Heart and a second Bronze Star.
Rogers, a D.C. resident since about 2004, entered the Army in 1990 and served in the first Persian Gulf War and was on a second tour of duty in Iraq when he died.
Mainstream media coverage of Rogers’ death coincided with the grim milestone of 4,000 U.S. service members killed in Iraq and the five-year anniversary of the invasion. But the media reports about Rogers’ death omitted any mention of his sexual orientation. The Washington Post, National Public Radio and the Gainesville Sun, the local newspaper in his hometown of Hampton, Fla., made no mention of his sexual orientation or his involvement with a group that works to overturn “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”