President Barack Obama has named Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton to the Board of Visitors of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, making her the first openly gay or lesbian person to serve there.
Fulton is an army veteran who graduated from West Point in 1980, part of the first class to include women. She is the executive director and co-founder of Knights Out, an organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered West Point graduates and their supporters, and a founding member of OutServe, which represents actively-serving LGBT military personnel who cannot reveal their sexual identity.
“I would hope it would symbolize to all people gay and straight that anti-gay bias in the military is a thing of the past,” Fulton told the Wall Street Journal about her new appointment. “I would hope it would tell them that if you’re willing to serve your country and you’re qualified, other factors don’t matter,” she said. “I see my role as in some sense helping West point send that message -- that we respect all people equally. That’s part of our values, that’s part of our code.”
Fulton told the Journal that she realized she was a lesbian while serving in the Army in Germany after graduating from West Point, but she did not come out until 1993, after she had finished her military service and while campaigning to repeal the “don't ask, don't tell” policy.