QUEER VOICES
12/12/2013 03:09 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

How Being A Marine Helped Me Learn To Live As A Gay Man (VIDEO)

Being in the military before the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was tortuous for many lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans forced to hide their true identity. But for Elegance Bratton, hiding his sexuality was liberating in a way he couldn't have imagined.

Bratton joined HuffPost Live's Ricky Camilleri to discuss his documentary "Pier Kids: The Life," which explores the stories of LGBT youth who have been driven to homelessness because of their sexuality. During the conversation, Bratton explained how joining the Marines made him absolutely sure he was gay.

"The funny thing about being in the Marines, for me, it actually helped me learn to live as a gay man because having to hide my sexuality actually made me have to admit that's what it was," he said.

Bratton explained that he was kicked out of his home as a teenager for expressing a same-sex attraction, which led him to bottle up his feelings and refuse to acknowledge them -- until he became a Marine. He explained:

"A large part of my time as a homeless person was in rebellion against my sexuality because my sexuality caused this terrible thing to happen. It wasn't until I was in the Marine Corps and I had to actually say to myself, 'This is something that I have to hide, that means it's actually there.' It was either I learn to accept myself in this hostile 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' environment, or I don't and even more damage would have been done to me."

Catch the full conversation about "Pier Kids: The Life" at HuffPost Live HERE.

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