Former Fort Drum Soldier Claims He Was Harassed For Being GayPosted: Updated:
A former soldier is claiming he was harassed for being gay while stationed at Fort Drum.
In an article he wrote for the New York Times Magazine, Necko Fanning describes the abuse he allegedly suffered while serving with the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry.
He describes finding death threats shoved under his door, as well as sticky notes calling him a "faggot" and "queer fag."
His article is entitled "I Thought I Could Serve as an Openly Gay Man in the Army. Then Came the Death Threats."
Fanning says he joined the Army in 2011, a few months before the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gays in the military was repealed that September.
He says he stopped concealing his sexuality after the repeal.
"I openly used the word 'boyfriend' when describing my partner," he wrote, "never worrying that any of my superiors or classmates cared."
He writes that the death threats began his second week at Fort Drum.
"I didn't know if they were warranted for investigation or if it was a bigger deal than I was making it at the time," Fanning said in an interview with 7 News.
He said notes being slipped under the door weren't the only messages the openly gay solider received.
"People had urinated during the winter time on my car and spelled out profanities," he said.
Fanning says that the notes stopped but the feeling that he was being treated differently than straight soldiers continued.
He says his unit's Sexual Harassment Assault Response and Prevention non-commissioned officer approached him after a male on male sexual assault occurred - implying he might commit a similar offense. Fanning says he was also told by a supervisor not to bring a date to a military ball.
"There were definitely times were I felt like leadership had especially failed to take into consideration the differences and the sensibilities of having a gay solider," he said.
In December of 2014, Fanning left Fort Drum and the military. He says one of the reasons he left was because he wasn't able to form strong connections with the people he served with.
"It can really change the life of a solider simply for a superior to say that they support LGBT soldiers and they are proud to have LGBT soldiers as part of their unit or part of their command chain," he said.
Fanning described joining an on-post support group of people who'd been similarly harassed.
Fanning adds he doesn't believe that this behavior is isolated to Fort Drum, but that the treatment of LGBT soldiers is a problem on installations across the country.
In a statement, Fort Drum spokesperson Major Harold Huff said, "The behavior the author describes violates both Army regulation and Army values and should be met with zero tolerance. We have worked in the years since the author's service to better convey that if a Soldier is met with intolerance, he or she has multiple avenues for assistance and support from the Chain of Command."