In 2002, Brett Jones was a distinguished and decorated Navy SEAL, having served two tours of duty overseas, when one little sentiment caused his world to collapse around him. An accidental “I love you” to his boyfriend drowned the gay Navy SEAL’s career, and Jones faced down harsh treatment from the Navy when word had gotten out about Jones’ sexual orientation.
Jones was a closeted Special Operations member and living under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that had governed the United States military until it was repealed in September 2011. He’d lied to his Navy SEAL brothers about who he was going out with and he also lied to Mike about what he did for a living. Unfortunately, it was a woman in his boyfriend’s office who had heard the brief exchange between Jones and his boyfriend and reported it up the military chain of command. The report launched a full-scale investigation into Jones’ conduct and compromised his hard-won security clearance, which had been yanked from him in the wake of the investigation.
Even though the accidental “I love you” cost the closeted gay Navy SEAL his career, Jones says he is grateful for the support that he received from the Navy SEALs he worked with. He notes that although there were some who whispered about him behind his back, the majority of fellow Special Operations soldiers he worked with were quite supportive. He also admits that he felt he did not have much of a choice but to keep up a front, even though he disliked lying.
While Navy spokesman Greg Raelson would not comment about the treatment Jones says he received, he did say that Jones “served his country honorably.” The Navy would not comment beyond that.
When the investigation began, Jones sought the help of OutServe-SLDN, an organization established in 1993 to defend the rights of LGBT soldiers. OutServe-SLDN reached out to a Washington, DC lobbyist and within two weeks, the Navy dropped the investigation. Now married with a husband and a son, Jones says he was inspired by Kristi Beck, who served as “Chris” for 20 years in the Navy. Beck’s book, Warrior Princess, came out in June 2013 and chronicled her journey as she transitioned from man to woman. Jones says that it was Beck’s courage in coming out as a transsexual woman that led to him becoming a great husband and father, and he has no regrets about what he went through.
SOFREP.com, which styles itself as a “special operations forces situation report” online, covered Jones’ disclosure Feb. 10, and Editor-in-Chief Brandon Webb expressed his pride at having served with Jones. Webb had been a BUD/S 215 classmate with Jones, and notes that there was no way anyone could have known that Jones was gay. He also says his friend’s sexual orientation does not matter in the slightest.
Jones notes that it was because of the support that those with the Navy SEALs offered him that he was able to proudly come out. He says he now realizes that one of the greatest gifts anyone can offer is their diversity, and that when he was younger, he used to pray to love women, but came to realize that his being gay was, in fact, something to be proud of.
An accidental “I love you” that drowned the gay Navy SEALs career has left him with no regrets. Jones says that while the investigation he’d had to endure was “damn humiliating”, he feels good about being one of the first members of the elite team to have ever come out in such a public way. According to OutServe-SLDN, new calls for assistance are received by their office daily.
By Christina St-Jean