Reichen Lehmkuhl: Don’t ask, don’t tell failed me

Reality star Reichen Lehmkuhl is perhaps best known as Lance Bass of N’Sync fames better half,  or winning a $1 million on the adventure reality show “The Amazing Race.”

Private pain has surfaced in Lehmkuhl’s released statements detailing Air Force peer abuse while he was a captain living with his sexual preference a secret.

Lehmkuhl had dreams of being in the Air Force since he was a child.

“It was a childhood dream to fly, and then it came more of an adult dream to not just fly but to … [go to] the Air Force Academy and to be an officer, to be a leader in the U.S. Air Force,” he told ABC News.

By the time Lehmkuhl entered the Air Force Academy, he knew who he was, and who he liked, and was adept at keeping the lid on his sexuality.

People magazine reports: “And I remember the panic that came over me at that moment realizing, ‘What am I going to do? Am I going to be able to change this? How can I admit this?’ ” he said.

“And it was all happening just within me, all internal ’cause I couldn’t talk to anybody about it,” he said.

The landmark 1993 “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy prohibited military personnel to question fellow soldiers about their sexual orientation, but it was a game of smoke and mirrors for Lehmkuhl, virtually no protection was given.

“There was definitely an institutionalized acceptance of people being homophobic and telling gay jokes and making homophobic remarks — really, really mean homophobic remarks to the point of, ‘Kill gay people,’ ” he said in an interview with People.

Lehmkuhl”s sexual orientation rumors became a tipping point for his peers to act in violent sexual abuse against him.

“A bag was put over my head,” he said. “I was stripped of my clothes. I was forced to do things sexually with two other male cadets.”

“That’s when you start having suicidal thoughts, and that’s when you start saying, ‘Oh my God. I am so stuck in this situation. I can’t go to anyone,’ ” he said in the People magazine interview.

 

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