Greer began his service academy career by entering West Point with the class of 1974. It had been a life-long dream, and he looked forward to the opportunity. In November of Plebe year the dream turned into a nightmare, after he committed an honor offense by telling a lie about when he had last shined his shoes. Even though he turned himself in for this minor infraction, he was forced to resign after an honor court hearing, and he returned home to Tennessee. His congressman then nominated him to the Naval Academy, where he was appointed with the class of 1975.
The Naval Academy experience was one of great challenge, hard work, and a heavy academic load. Friendships he made there have lasted a lifetime. Who Greer is now, what he does, and how he does it were molded into him at USNA. While there, he learned who he was in more ways than one. This included his sexual orientation. By the end of 2nd Class year, he was going to gay bars in Washington, DC with friends from town. He managed to keep that part of his life secret, and following graduation, he attended Surface Warfare Officer School before meeting his first ship.
His Navy career was a short lived one. An enlisted man, who had heard he was gay, turned Greer in, and he was forced to resign from the Navy in 1978 after serving on USS BORDELON (DD 881) and USS CLEVELAND (LPD 7). Although he received an honorable discharge, the experience was so humiliating, it left him scarred for many years. He attended graduate school for a short time followed by employment at Ford Motor Company. By 1980, however, he began a new job working for a defense firm as an engineer on the POSEIDON and TRIDENT Submarine systems, both SSBN and SSGN and has now been doing it for 35 years. As the saying goes, you can take the kid out of the Navy, but you can’t take the Navy out of the kid. For most of those years, he was actually working daily on the boats, in locations such as Groton, Connecticut, for 15 years, Holy Loch, Scotland for a year and Bremerton, Washington, for 2 years. He recently transferred from his home plant in Sunnyvale, CA,. where he was located for 10 years, and is now working on the submarines again in Bremerton.
Due to the difficulty in obtaining a Secret Clearance required for his job, he came out at work almost immediately after starting with the company. By 1984, as a field engineer, he was selected to be transferred to the American Submarine Base in Holy Loch, Scotland. While there, he went through an interview process with the NIS, and the issue of his orientation came up. Because they rediscovered in this interview that he was gay, they told his company, which immediately transferred him back to the states. He subsequently discovered he had nearly been fired by upper management because of his orientation. Fortunately, his supervisor saved his job by threatening to quit if they terminated him. He still had to work twice as hard to prove himself as a worthy employee again.
Since his career was so adversely affected because of that event, he could only pray that a supportive atmosphere for LGBT people would ever exist. When his company was acquired by another major defense contractor in 1996, he was hopeful that one day this might happen. Therefore, the most affirming moment in his life occurred when he discovered a supporting organization had formed. He was only happy to be involved with starting a chapter of that employee resource group in Sunnyvale. Since being involved and knowing the company cares, he feels much more confident in his job and in how he relates to people,. He has continued being involved first as vice chairman, then chairman and finally secretary of the resource group for the sector. He has attended Out and Equal Workplace Associates Summits for the last seven years and was awarded Trailblazer Outie Award in 2014. Hopefully someday all LGBT employees in companies everywhere will have employee resource groups, which will support them as his does.
His partner, Ben and he were together for 32 years before finally being married in 2013. They live in Bremerton in a view home full of old paintings, which he collects, language books, which Ben collects, and mementos of years gone by. He is constantly indulging in his painting collecting hobby by roving through EBay, other auctions and antique shops. He plays bridge and Texas Hold-em; Ben and he walk a lot together, and they enjoy the company of their friends. In the last few years he has reconnected with many classmates from both West Point and Annapolis. From his West Point days, he has reconnected with his Plebe Summer and academic roommates and friends, who, although straight, found Greer on the USNA Out web site. When they see each other, they laugh about the old days and talk of friends they knew and about where life has taken them. From Annapolis days, all of his friends from 35th Company, both grads and non grads, stay in almost daily contact. Because of them, and because of the USNA Out members, he has reconnected with the past and is on the road to healing and to a better understanding of what it’s like to be a gay graduate of a service academy.
Greer is a member of the USNA Alumni Association.
Please feel free to contact Greer here at USNA Out.