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Staff Sgt. Eric Fidelis Alva, U.S. Marines.

Eric was the first Marine seriously injured in the Iraq War who went on to be a key figure in the fight to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding gay and lesbian service in the U.S. armed forces.

On March 21, 2003, he was in charge of 11 Marines in a supply unit when he stepped on a land mine and lost his right leg. Alva, a native of San Antonio, Texas, grew up in a military family. He graduated from high school in 1989.

He joined the United States Marine Corps in 1990 at the age of 19 when he already knew he was gay and the U.S. military excluded all gays and lesbians from service, open or not.

He served for 13 years, including postings in Okinawa and Somalia. For much of his career, he was out to his fellow Marines.

"This heroic figure is at the forefront of the LGBT rights movement"

On July 23, 2008, Alva testified about DADT before a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee. He said: "Unit cohesion is essential. What my experience proves, they are wrong about how to achieve it. My being gay and even many of my colleagues knowing about it didn’t damage unit cohesion. They put their lives in my hands, and when I was injured, they risked their lives to save mine." He described intimate living conditions while stationed in Somalia. He also reported conversations with military personnel from other countries in which they uniformly expressed surprise that "our Nation is so further behind others when we seem to be the forefront of trying to be the example.

When asked by news interviewer Paula Zahn: "Were you ever attracted to a "soldier" in the field?" Alva replied: "I never took my personal life to work."

Major General Christopher Cortez (left), commends Staff Sergeant Eric Alva on July 13, 2003, calling him "a credit to the Corps

Quotes

  • "I come from a family of servicemen. My dad, Fidelis, is a Vietnam vet. My grandfather, also named Fidelis, was a World War II and Korean War veteran. I was named after them. My middle name is Fidelis. Fidelis means faithful."

  • "We're losing probably thousands of men and women that are skilled at certain types of jobs, from air traffic controllers to linguists, because of this broken policy."

  • Responding to a question about whether being in the closet affected him: "On a professional level, no, because I knew I had a job to do. On a personal level, in some ways, yes, because it was hard for me to live sometimes knowing that I was alone or that I couldn't be open about who I wanted to date."

Eric will share how his struggles changed HISTORY!!!! ...

When: Tuesday, October 27, 2015 @ 7-8:30 p.m.

Where: Discovery Green is located at: 1500 McKinney- Houston, Texas 77010

Presented with support from Lambda Legal, the Victory Fund, ACLU of Texas, Houston Unites and OutSmart Magazine.

#EricAlva #LGBT #Military #Fidelis

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