Queer Places:
Arlington National Cemetery Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA, Plot Sec 60 Site 8558

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ed/Major_Alan_G._Roger_at_Same-Sex_Wedding_Ceremony.jpgAlan Greg Rogers (September 21, 1967 – January 27, 2008) was an ordained pastor, a U.S. Army Major and Intelligence Officer, a civil rights activist in the gay, lesbian and bisexual military community and the first known gay combat fatality of Operation Iraqi Freedom.[1][2][3] The subsequent coverage of his death in the media sparked a debate over the effect of the military's "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" (DADT) policy and what information should be included in the biography of a gay military person killed in action.

At the age of 3, Rogers was adopted by George and Genny Rogers and was their only child. In 1977, the Rogers family moved from New York City to Hampton, Florida, near Gainesville. Rogers attended Hampton Elementary School, and ultimately graduated from Bradford County High School in Starke, Florida, in 1985. Rogers joined Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Lincoln City, Florida, and was ordained a pastor as a young man. While in high school, Rogers was commander of the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program and elected by his classmates as the "most intellectual."[4]

After high school, Rogers joined the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program at the University of Florida and then accepted a commission in the United States Army upon graduation with a Bachelor of Arts degree in religion in 1995. Rogers later completed a Master of Arts degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix through distance learning.[4] Rogers's father, George, died of a heart attack in 2000, and his mother, Genny, died of kidney-related problems two weeks later. Rogers preached at his mother's funeral.[4]

In 2001, Rogers commanded a military intelligence company based out of Waegwan, South Korea. During his tenure as company commander, Rogers emphasized unit morale and cohesiveness, often organizing company wide get togethers and functions.

In 2004, Rogers moved to Washington, D.C. and, in 2005, earned a Master of Public Policy degree from Georgetown University. Only 25 Army officers were accepted into the program.[4] Rogers's thesis adviser was Mark Nadel, who described Rogers as "an officer with leadership qualities that made him think, 'This is a guy I'm going to hear from in 10 years, and he's going to be a general.'"[5] Rogers's thesis examined how the US military’s DADT policy affected recruitment and retention for military officers.[6] In recognition of his achievements at Georgetown, Rogers gained an internship at the Pentagon serving the deputy secretary of defense, Gordon R. England.[4]

Beginning in October 2004, Rogers served as Treasurer of the Washington, D.C. chapter of the American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER).[6] On January 16, 2005, Rogers received an award from the organization for his service at a ceremony held at Dupont Grill. Rogers also attended events supporting the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), which works to end the DADT policy.[7]

Rogers expressed his opinion on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy in his Master's thesis, written in 2005 shortly before he was deployed to Iraq and reportedly killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) while on foot patrol: "Today’s current policy on gays in the military seems to rest on many faulty assumptions – namely that homosexuals will jeopardize unit cohesiveness. My research has been unable to justify that position and has found that the opposite is more true. Denying service members the right to serve freely and openly violates basic dignity and respect of the human experience and puts our national security at risk."[8]

In June 2006, Rogers provided the opening prayer for a same-sex wedding ceremony. Rogers reportedly expressed "an intensely deep loneliness that stemmed from his inability to have both a [same-sex] relationship ... and the military career he also loved so much."[9]

In July 2007, Rogers was deployed to Iraq. Friends organized a send-off party in his honor on July 14, 2007, held at the Fabulous Bed & Breakfast in Northwest Washington, D.C.

Rogers's commanding officer in Iraq was Col. Thomas Fernandez.[5] Rogers communicated via e-mail with many of his friends during his deployment, and two of his friends from AVER received e-mail from Rogers the day before he died.[6]

According to an Army report, Rogers was killed by an improvised explosive device while on foot patrol in Baghdad, on January 27, 2008.[10] On January 30, 2008, friends of Rogers established the Alan G. Rogers Memorial Scholarship Fund.

A funeral service was held for Rogers at Ebenezer Baptist Church on February 8, 2008.[11] In honor of Rogers, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist ordered the Florida and U.S. flags be flown at half-staff at the Bradford County Courthouse, Hampton City Hall and the Florida State Capitol.[4] Family members later expressed that "we really didn't know about [Rogers being gay] until after his death. "[12] Rogers' beneficiary from Florida later stated that he knew Rogers was gay, but felt it had "no more relevance than I'm straight."[12]

Rogers was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on March 14, 2008, in Section 60, at Gravesite 8558.[13] About 200 people attended the service, including Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, Army Lt. Gen. John F. Kimmons, active duty military, both enlisted and officers, Rogers's friends and family from Florida, and Rogers's friends in northern Virginia, and Washington, D.C.[14] Also in attendance were a dozen or more gay active duty military personnel.[15]

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  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_G._Rogers