"I was asked by an investigator at one point if I was gay, and I lied," said Sue Fulton in an interview with NBC Out. "I carried that with me for years. When it came time for the 'don't ask, don't tell' fight, that's one of the reasons I worked so hard. To redeem myself."
After being honorably discharged from the military at the rank of Captain, Fulton dedicated her life to advocating for marginalized people in the military. She was instrumental in overturning "don't ask, don't tell," and today works with an organization called SPART*A, an LGBTQ military group that fights for the rights of transgender people in military services.
She graduated from West Point in 1980, the first class to include women, and sits on the Board of Visitors there today. She and her wife, Penny, were also the first same-sex couple to get married at the Cadet Chapel at West Point.
"A group of people that is diverse in gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and religion, that group will be more creative problem solvers," Fulton said. "That's what we need from our military."
Fun Fact: "I once played a one-woman concert at Mother Theresa’s 'Mother House' in Calcutta, at the invitation of the sisters. I was volunteering for a month, and playing guitar for them in my free time."
Pride Means: "To me, Pride is about coming out. Our rights were won when enough of us had the courage to tell our families, friends, co-workers, and fellow churchgoers that, 'Yep...I’m gay.' Or bisexual, or transgender, or queer. But Pride, like coming out, will always be more than a celebration. It will also be a recommitment to standing up for each other, and never going back to the bad ol’ days."
Sue Fulton was nominated for NBC Out's #Pride30 list by U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who said, "Sue is a great American and has been a trailblazer in so many ways. Sue was one of the first women to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point ... and she was instrumental in the fight to end the discriminatory policy of 'don't ask, don't tell.'"