Being openly gay in the military today is not an issue. That’s what the keynote speaker at this year’s West Hollywood Veterans Day observance reported.
“Being gay in the military served as a branch of trust between me and my team,” explained Lt. Shawn Horvath of the U.S. Navy. “When I shared that very private part of my life, it served as a moment of connection.”
A Filipino-American from a small town in Florida who graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis in 2015, Lt. Horvath credits his positive experience to the fact he started at the Naval Academy just as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was ending. Thus, he didn’t experience the discrimination of that anti-gay policy.
However, he reported he has had conversations with many older LGBT veterans who lived with the constant fear of being outed and then ousted under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
“Those veterans who came before me demonstrated such strength and determination in the face of adversity. I want to thank them so wholeheartedly for their struggle and fight because without their experiences, I don’t think I’d be who I am today,” said Lt. Horvath who has served on the USS Blue Ridge and the USS Shiloh.
He credits working with the wide range of people from all walks of life who join the military with teaching him about the human condition. He also believes the military experience can be summed up in a single word – opportunities.
“The military has given me on not only the opportunity to serve but also the opportunity to find out who I am. It has helped shape my outlook on the possibilities of life and also has allowed me to improve the lives of those brave sailors and marines I’ve served beside,” said the 27 year old who is now the assistant chief diversity officer at the Naval Academy.
Lt. Shawn Horvath is the first cousin of West Hollywood’s Mayor Lindsey Horvath (their fathers are brothers). Even though there is an 11 year difference in their ages, the two cousins have been close, especially after he came out to her.
In her introduction, Mayor Horvath explained why she suggested her cousin to the city staff putting together the Veterans Day observance.
“I just thought his story might be something that would be really impactful for our community this year; for people who might be considering a career in military service or just trying to understand military service,” said Mayor Horvath. “I know that Shawn’s experience is extraordinary.”
This year’s Veterans Day observance was held online due to the coronavirus-mandated social distancing requirements. The entire 20-minute observance was pre-recorded and debuted on the WeHo TV YouTube channel at 11 a.m. today. In addition to Lt. Horvath’s comments, numerous elected officials also offer their greetings.
Watch the full video below. The introduction of Lt. Horvath starts at the 12:45 mark.