A new video by Emily Geraghty for NBC tells the story of Jamie Adams, a third-generation military vet and the first Park Ranger for the Stonewall National Monument in New York City. Adams was in the military during “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which meant that she could not live openly as a queer woman during her time in the Coast Guard.
In the video, Adams talks about how lonely she felt during her time in the military because of the isolation that comes with not being able to be out or even to talk about what she was struggling with. After being discharged from the military for a medical condition, Adams worked in a position where she would meet with new military recruits. Part of that job was providing them with information about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“It broke my heart because for some of them, I just would want to say ‘really think hard about this,'” Adams says in the video. “But really at that time… I was really still coming to terms with who I was.”
When Adams joined the Park Service, she was still largely in the closet, but she had been in the Service for less than a year when she found out that Stonewall might become a national monument. This encouraged her to start being more open, and she sent a note to the Park Service superintendent for New York City saying that she was very enthusiastic about the Stonewall project and position.
The Stonewall Inn is the site of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, which marked a shift in the struggle for gay rights, is now officially a national monument, and Adams works as the Park Ranger for the site, keeping the area ready for visitors and making sure that those who visit know the story of Stonewall.
“It’s not uncommon to share tears with visitors,” she says. In the video, one person tells Adams that she has just come out, and Adams welcomes her to the park saying, “You did? Well, welcome. This is really exciting, I’m really glad that you’re here visiting. … What a special time.”
“If I met someone who also served under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ and was in the closet because of it, I think we would just look at each other and say, ‘Can you believe we’ve gotten here?'” Adams says in the video. “Because I still kind of can’t believe it.”