Two Apache helicopter pilots are believed to be the first same-sex, active-duty military couple to get married at West Point military academy.
Capt. Daniel Hall, 30, and Capt. Vincent Franchino, 26, were married in the chapel at the New York academy on Jan. 13, the New York Times reports. The couple first met in 2009 while “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was in effect.
“We couldn’t tell the truth for fear of what would happen to us,” Franchino told the Times. “So we put it in our minds that we were never going to say we were gay.”
“It’s really frustrating when two people have feelings for each other but are not allowed to act on them,” Hall added. “We were serving under a policy that was telling all of us — perfectly capable soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines — to lie about ourselves.”
However, friends could see that something was there between Franchino and Hall when they first met. At the time, Franchino was a freshman and hall was a senior.
“You could tell that there was this chemistry, this unspoken communication between them,” said Capt. Owen Waits, a close friend of both men, adding, “You knew that there was this whole aspect of their feelings and personalities that were being suppressed.”
Once the policy was repealed in 2011, Hall and Franchino were able to be more open with their sexuality, which led to their first date in 2012. However, the couple weren’t immune to homophobia.
“We’ve experienced everything from people feeling awkward around us to being called faggots while holding hands and walking down the street, stuff like that,” Franchino said.
The couple briefly split when Hall was deployed to South Korea.
“At the time, there was just too much pressure involved, we were both very nervous about the long-distance thing,” Franchino said, “so we both thought it was best to just step away.”
After dating other people they got back together, and have gotten used to their relationship being periodically long distance.
“We’ve just grown accustomed to being apart at times,” said Captain Franchino, “It’s a part of who we are, a part of what we do, so we simply accept it.”
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